CLEVELAND – In recent years, attention on law enforcement and how they execute their roles has been under the microscope, and now proper police training is all the more critical.
Last week law enforcement officers from departments across Liberty County embarked on the Cleveland Civic Center for a specialized self-defense training course.
“What we are teaching them is self- defense and defensive tactics. How to protect themselves against attacks, whether its punches, pushes and how to use multiple officers to control a combative subject to take them to the ground, control them and get them handcuffed basically,” said course instructor Robert Mendiola.
Mendiola is a retired Sergeant with the San Jose Police Department, with 30 years of experience in law enforcement and now serves as an instructor with The Koga Institute.
Their mission is to educate and train law enforcement officers with the tools necessary to perform their jobs safely and in a humane manner that is expected of them, especially by today’s measures.
“ It’s the Koga method. It’s based on the martial arts Aikido and jiu- jitsu,” he said.
Mendiola believes that training is necessary because it elevates the abilities of law enforcement to perform their work at a higher standard.
“Officers have a tendency to go to the tools that they have, but then they don’t have any hands-on skills to be able to control the subject once they use the utilized tools such as a taser,” he said.
Mendiola believes these training techniques enhance safety for the officer and the suspect when appropriately utilized. “Our primary concern is not just the safety of the officer, but the safety of the subject we’re dealing with. As you know, punching and kicking don’t really have a place in police work. We resort to those things because we have no other skills,” he said.
The training program was provided with funding from the LCSO and District Attorney’s offices.
“I am incredibly thankful to have a sheriff that is willing to work with my office to help make sure that law enforcement in Liberty County are safer and better prepared for the perils that await them on the job,” said District Attorney Jennifer Bergman.
The course was an intensive weeklong program and included hands- on training, a lecture on the Koga Method, as well as written and physical performance testing on the final day. Students that passed the course were provided a certificate allowing them to instruct the Koga Method.
“Both agencies worked for months to coordinate and host this defense tactics instructor course here in Liberty County and look forward to the attendees to be able to teach the skills they learned to our local law enforcement personnel,” said Bergman.
Liberty County Constable Pct. 6 Zack Harkness took part in the training and felt the training was essential for local law enforcement to perform their duties better.
“I think it’s important for the Liberty County residents to know their law enforcement members are getting training, and the DA and SO are working together to make that happen,” said Harkness.