LUDLOW, Ky. — Ludlow Police Chief Scott Smith said most law enforcement mistakes can be boiled down to a lack of training. He’s on a mission to change that.
Smith opened a gym where he offers free martial arts classes to officers in disciplines like Brazilian jiu-jitsu. He said those are the skills that officers need to ensure they can control suspects without shooting them.
“If you’re going to the range twice a year, then you probably should be training combatives twice a year,” he said.
Officers are trained at the academy to keep a safe distance between suspects and themselves, but things rarely work out that way in the real world, according to Smith.
“Most officers never discharge their duty weapon, but what you do on a regular basis as a street officer or SWAT is you put your hands on people,” he said. “You cannot affect arrest without touching them.”
Smith said he first took a Brazilian jiu-jitsu class in 1996, when he was in the Army. He’s been doing it ever since.
“Jiu-jitsu is the fundamentals of defense, self-defense and getting out of bad situations,” he said.
SWAT officer Michael Brock said he’s had to use some of the moves to capture suspects in Kenton County.
“I put him in an arm bar, he immediately started to comply and the situation was done,” Brock said.
Smith said he hopes the state will add his class to their list of approved training.
“This and working out – every officer should be doing it,” he said.
In the meantime, more officers keep joining, hoping to make Kentucky safer one arm bar at a time. Kelly Foreman at the Department of Criminal Justice Training said it has come to their attention that officers do need refresher courses in hand-to-hand training, so they have begun to offer more regularly as of this year.
Andy Gonzalez is a coach at Aces Jiu Jitsu Club. He has earned his purple belt under Professor Mikal Abdullah. Follow Andy on Twitter at @GoGoGonzilla
Andy lives in Austin, Texas with his wife Amanda and their 3 beautiful children. Andy is also the father of a Marine who is honorably serving in the United States Marine Corps.