Gahanna residents are learning how to defend themselves physically, thanks to the Gahanna Division of Police answering their requests for classes.

Gahanna police Lt. Matt Kissel said the classes began after he had been giving talks for several years as requested by businesses.

"It was lecture only and was offered to businesses, churches and small organizations," he said.

"In that class, I kept getting requests for true self-defense tactics. Last year, we chose to add a self-defense class in response to the requests and made it open to the public."

Interest has continued to increase, with the past two classes being full or nearly full, Kissel said.

Gahanna police offer four self-defense classes a year. All are open to those at least 18 years old, and two of the four are exclusively for women.

"In the class we discuss situational awareness, how to address personal space, criminal behavior that we can identify, how criminals choose a victim, how not to be chosen and then what we can do if we are chosen as a victim," Kissel said. "About half the class is lecture and the rest is (interactive) learning, how to control our space and physically defend ourselves with easy-to-learn techniques."

Carrin Wester, Gahanna communications manager, said residents should register online for the classes through parks and recreation -- at gahanna.gov -- by April 1.

Self-defense classes for women are scheduled June 20 and Oct. 17. A self-defense class for anyone 18 years old or older is scheduled Sept. 12.

An active-shooter training tentatively is scheduled April 18 and Oct 3.

"The course offerings are part of our ongoing community outreach efforts that include the Citizen Police Academy, Coffee with a Cop series and other events," said Jeffrey Spence, Gahanna police chief.

Jeffrey Lawless, deputy police chief, said the department advertises the classes on social media as soon as they are open or are available for registration.

He said all courses are free and last from 9 a.m. to noon Saturdays.

Kissel said students should leave the self-defense class with a better understanding of personal space, situational awareness, tactics to control their personal space, some ways to identify a person with ill intent and some simple moves that could be used in the event they are grabbed or attacked. He said the police department would hold an off-to-college seminar for women who will attend their first year of college or return to college.

"In this class, we will cover some specific things that can be done on campuses, some resources available and dorm life," he said. "This will be scheduled for the end of summer before they go off to school."

Kissel has been trained specifically in teaching women's self-defense seminars.

"I train in a self-defense system on my own time and have been involved in teaching for many years," he said.

"I also typically have one of our female officers to assist and help answer questions (in self-defense classes). All of them have been training in a self-defense system and continue to train outside on their own time."

Residents can follow the Gahanna Division of Police at facebook.com/GahannaPD and Twitter @GahannaPD for posts and updates.

mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekMarla