Sgt. Jason Hurley is one of two MTSU Police Department officers certified to instruct next month’s Rape Aggression Defense Systems, or RAD, course.
A Murfreesboro, Tennessee, native, Hurley chose to become a certified RAD instructor after serving victims of sexual assault and abuse during his almost decade-long tenure on the campus police force.
“I feel a personal responsibility to provide the knowledge and experience that I have to help survivors overcome their fear, depression and anxiety,” Hurley said. “When I see those faces turn to happiness, joy, confidence and empowerment and see their self-respect regained, nothing is more rewarding to me.”
The RAD course teaches realistic self-defense tactics and techniques to women, providing risk awareness, reduction, recognition and avoidance education along with hands-on physical defense instruction and practice.
The latest course consists of twice-weekly training sessions over a three-week period. It starts Tuesday, July 5, and ends Thursday, July 21, and will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Participants should commit to attending all of the sessions to receive complete training, organizers said.
The free course is open to female MTSU students, faculty and staff and members of the community age 13 and older. Those interested can register via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or through the MTSU Police RAD website, www.mtsu.edu/police/RAD.php.
The university began offering the RAD course to the campus and surrounding community in 2003 and has trained hundreds of women with its practical safety techniques.
No previous background or experience in physical training is required to attend.
Hurley said the campus continues to provide the course without cost to further the police department’s priority of keeping the community safe.
“(It) provides our community with the tools and knowledge that will help them create a safer future for themselves,” he said.
Master Patrol Officer Katelynn Erskine was inspired to become RAD-certified after completing the course when she first joined the force in 2018.
“I saw how much the women in the class grew in both skill and confidence, and I wanted to be a part of that,” Erskine said.
The officer also is a sexual assault survivor.
“Our campus community is filled with young women getting out into the world by themselves for the first time…. It is a great chance for them to branch out and explore, but, unfortunately, a college campus can also provide an opportunity for crime,” she said.
“If something we teach these women can help prevent that for them in the future or helps them heal from a previous situation, that means everything to me.”
Improve your safety now
For those unable to attend this summer’s RAD course, Hurley and Erskine offered advice for improving personal safety right now. Both encouraged everyone to be aware of their surroundings.
“If something doesn’t look or feel right, avoid the situation and call someone for help,” Hurley said. “Never leave a drink unattended or accept a free drink from a stranger. Always order your own drink and take it with you. Never be afraid to call the police if you need help. … Our priority is to serve the community, and we are here to help.”
“Park in well-lit areas,” Erskine added. “Avoid distractions while out walking, like looking at your phone. I also want to encourage students who observe suspicious activity, notice streetlights out, or any other safety hazard to call 911 or the police non-emergency number — 615-898-2424 — and report it.”
— Stephanie Barrette (Stephanie.Barrette@mtsu.edu)