By Shawn Kirkpatrick
Female Lee County sheriff deputies, along with Opelika, Auburn and Monroeville police officers, honed their survival skills at a female firearm and defensive tactics training course last week.
The course, hosted by Safariland, with the backing of Sheriff Jay Jones, teaches female officers shooting and gun-battle skills, as well as defensive tactics to use in life-threatening situations.
The program is only available to female officers and is only taught by women. Dorcia Meador, lead course instructor, said she doesn’t teach anything differently to the woman than the men, it’s how she teaches.
“We learn totally different from men. We want more details. We want to know why we do it that way. Where-as a guy is more task-oriented, just give me the basics and let me go at it. Women want to know, why do I grip the gun this way- because of the recoil or the size of my hand, tell me why.”
Sgt. Jessica Daley has been a deputy in the Lee County Sheriff’s Department for 15 years. After going through the training in another state, she asked the instructors to teach the course in Lee County.
This is the third year the program has been offered to female officers in the county. “I’ve learned confidence in my shooting and how to handle stress,” Daley said. “Stress is a large factor in our job. We run laps and do ‘burpees’ and then have to fight someone. We learn how to handle that and calm ourselves and think it through and win. No matter how long the fight drags on, just win-that is the ultimate goal.”
Meador and her team teach defensive tactics that are specific to a woman’s body shape and where her strength comes from. “There is a difference between men and women. It’s just science and a fact that men are 30% stronger than women physically,” Meador said. “Most of a woman’s power comes from her center of gravity. Our strength is in our hips and legs. We teach tactical moves (using lower body) to use to overpower a man.”
Opelika Police Officer and School Resource Officer Shayna Hodges said she has learned new tactical moves during the course.
“When you are in the field, things don’t happen by the book. You have to be prepared for anything. There are tactical ways to get the upper hand on anyone who is coming at you,” Hodges said. “They put us through the ringer here. They taught us to be calm and figure out what your next move is while defending yourself in a stressful situation and be three steps ahead.”
Meador said that the course gives women a sense of confidence and knowledge needed to excel at their job.
“We like to empower and inspire the women to know they can do it. To say, I got this, watch how well I do this. We tell them the criminals are training, so you should be training.”
Training is what it takes Daley said to stay mentally prepared and confident while in the field.
“We are seeing the bad guys going after the female officers. They want to see if they can take us. They think we aren’t prepared and we are easy targets. That’s why we do this. They think we are southern bells and so polite and that we can’t handle ourselves. And what it boils down to is we can handle ourselves.”