Victory before victim
SILVERTHORNE – The best weapon Officer Jim Donahue can give the students in his victim prevention class is not pepper spray, a gun or some martial arts moves. No, the best weapon for victim prevention is the mind of a survivor.
Donahue, a Silverthorne police officer, began a three-week victim prevention class last week. Through education, Donahue hopes to provide men and women with the skills and confidence to make themselves less likely targets of crime. The curriculum covers topics including physical defense, the mind of a criminal, discussions of issues such as weapons and laws, as well as brainstorming ideas to make homes and neighborhoods safer.
The free class continues from 6-9 p.m. Thursday and Sept. 12 at the Silverthorne Recreation Center on Rainbow Drive.
“We first started the class last year after the woman was assaulted on the trail in Breckenridge,” said Donahue, also a defensive tactics instructor for the Federal Bureau of Investigation and student of pressure point control techniques. “We realized there was a deficit of this kind of information out there to keep people out of those situations.
“We wanted to give people the power to stop a problem before it took a hold of the area.”
Fellow Silverthorne officers Rusty Lashley, Amy Papile and Community Service Officer Anne McNelly assist Donahue by demonstrating physical defense and helping students brainstorm ideas. Donahue emphasized that the mind is the most powerful tool at the students’ disposal. The officers also are helpful in explaining laws and the students’ rights.
“You can bench press 400 pounds and still become a victim,” he said.
The students – including men and women, 20-somethings and 50-somethings, and even a married couple – quickly took Donahue’s advice. In a few minutes, the group produced more than 20 ideas on how to keep their homes safe when away on vacation.
The class members had real concerns, too. Some described scary situations such as an ex-husband breaking into the home, a spooky stranger nearby in an empty movie theater and fears about hiking or jogging alone.
“I’m a little concerned,” Tonya Wallerich said. “You hear stories about this kind of thing all the time. It happens everywhere, even in Summit County.”
Other students were more curious than concerned.
“I feel very comfortable at home or when I’m out doing things,” Diane Salamon said. “I just wanted to be informed and support the police department. I think they do a great job.”
Donahue mixes up the class by leading discussions, getting students to participate in role playing, group brainstorming and question-and-answer sessions. The instructors stress they want to cover the topics the class wants to know more about.
“We hope they use us,” Donahue said. “This is the part where we’re here to serve.”
For more information about victim prevention training, call the Silverthorne Police Department at (970) 262-7320.
Reid Williams can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 237 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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