For several years, the Coppell Police Department has been helping women reaffirm their right to defend themselves and giving them the tools they need to do something when faced with an attacker through its Women’s Self-Defense class. While the class is usually reserved for high school aged women preparing for college, Coppell PD recently extended the offering for the first time to Coppell ISD teachers and staff to provide a refresher on the dos and don’ts of personal safety.
About 25 women attended the two-day class taught by School Resource Officer Dustin Mayfield-Walter in December during Coppell ISD’s winter break. The idea to offer the class to staff came out of Civilian Response to Active Shooter Events (CRASE) training, which has been or will be taught in every school in Coppell ISD. CRASE training involves elements of self-defense making the Women’s Self-Defense class a timely follow up.
“The Women’s Self-Defense class is provided as a service to the community,” Mayfield-Walter said. “Regardless of where they live – in Coppell or outside the city limits — Coppell ISD teachers and staff are an important part of our community.”
Designed to be a memorable, effective, and fun experience, the class combines mental and physical aspects of personal safety. Activities include learning and practicing vocal distraction methods and strikes to certain parts of the body as well as the opportunity to hear stories from local women who have experienced assault.
The class first teaches participants how to be a tough target including paying attention to their surroundings, staying off their phones, and encouraging them to not only be vocal, but loud when there’s a threat. Some of the most important tactics involve attracting attention to yourself by yelling distraction words, such as ‘fire,’ and keeping the assailant at a distance.
A person in protective gear, called a RedMan suit, also comes in giving participants a chance to perform strikes, run through scenarios, and practice what they’ve learned. Mayfield-Walter said the point is not to fight the attacker, but to get away from them and avoid becoming a victim.
“You could see the confidence grow,” Mayfield-Walter said about observing the class. “The second day went smoother because everybody was more comfortable with what they had learned and how to apply it.”
The Coppell Police Department plans to offer the Women’s Self Defense class to Coppell ISD staff and teachers again soon, most likely during another district break.
Please visit the Coppell Police Department's webpage for more information about services and programs.