The world can be a dangerous place for women, and Sgt. Rebecca Tolbert, a police officer at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, is trying to make them safer.
“We live in a world where women are more independent, self-sufficient and empowered, but the violence and crime in the world is more prevalent and increasing. We now own our responsibility to defend ourselves,” said Tolbert, who has been on the UTC police force for 23 years.
Toward that goal, she is teaching a free course on Rape Aggression Defense (R.A.D.) from Tuesday through Thursday, March 21-23. Tolbert said the program is designed to teach the basic skills to defend against physical threats, including abduction.
“We address risks and situational awareness of your environment—work, home and social—and your options of defense if needed,” she said.
R.A.D. is an internationally recognized alliance of teachers who train women on self-defense techniques. It is the largest program endorsed by the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators. Its self-defense philosophies have been taught at more than 3,500 colleges, universities, city, county and state police departments nationwide.
“R.A.D. is important because it helps women to realize their power, strength and confidence to physically defend themselves,” Tolbert said. “It teaches them that it’s OK to be aggressive and confident in their responsibility and commitment to defend against violence directed at them.”
The class uses real-world violence scenarios to teach defensive techniques, said Tolbert, who has taught R.A.D. classes at UTC for 16 years and now is the lead instructor for R.A.D., R.A.D. for Kids and Advanced R.A.D.
UTC Police Chief Robert Ratchford said Tolbert is dedicated to keeping people safe.
“Becky has always been passionate about her service to the community as a police officer,” he said. “Crime prevention, communication and keeping the public informed on how people can take care of themselves has always been a driving force.
“She is not only a knowledgeable, excellent presenter and trainer, she also has a genuine care and concern for the public that she serves.”
In her career as a police officer, Tolbert said she has been involved in incidents—especially in social settings with drugs or alcohol present—that could have turned out differently if the woman had known R.A.D. techniques
“My experience is that it does give them more confidence to use the learned basic techniques to defend themselves when attacked,” she said. “It gives them options to fight back.”
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What: Rape Aggression Defense training
When: 6-8 p.m. March 21-23
Where: Challenger STEM Learning Center Room 148, 755 Mocs Alumni Drive, across from the UTC Police Department.
How much: Free
To register: Email Marion Perkins at firstname.lastname@example.org no later than noon on March 21