Sheriff recommends best weapon

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 30, 2010

NATCHEZ — Adams County Sheriff Chuck Mayfield let a classroom of 28 women in on his secret to self-defense Thursday night.

He said the strongest weapon against an attacker is not a kick to the groin — although it’s certainly a runner up.

“Your most powerful body part is your mind,” Mayfield said.

At the ACSO sponsored workshop, Ladies Beware — Increasing Self Defense Options for Women Thursday night, Mayfield told the women in attendance that awareness, preparation and a “tough” mind is the best weapon to have in a dangerous situation.

The primary goal is to avoid danger in the first place, Mayfield said.

He said psychologists have conducted jailhouse interviews on criminals to determine what traits they look for, and the number one trait is distraction.

He said looking at phones, digging in purses, looking at the sky or even walking in a staggering, distracted manner are giveaway signals that can mark women as prime victims.

“Walk deliberately,” Mayfield said about how women should walk to their cars or into their homes at night.

If someone looks suspicious, use your eyes and body language let the person know you see him or her.

“But you don’t have to make eye contact like you’re challenging them,” Mayfield said.

He added that women should never be scared to walk back to a store and ask a security guard to walk them to their car or to call the sheriff’s office to send a deputy.

“That’s what they’re there for. They’ll probably get to feel big, anyway,” Mayfield said.

In a situation where a robber attempts to steal a woman’s purse, wallet or car keys, Mayfield said the best thing to do is throw the item they want on the ground. When the robber leans down to pick it up, run away and scream.

“Nothing in that purse is worth your life,” Mayfield said.

“I’m not trying to say be a good victim, but you have to pick your battles.”

He said if the robber has a weapon, run in a “serpentine” direction to avoid possibly getting shot.

One woman asked what to do if a man has a knife to her neck and wants her to go with him.

Mayfield said when the situation escalates to where the decision is between fighting back and getting in a car with an attacker, fighting back is the answer.

“Once you get in the car, it’s over,” Mayfield said.

However, once inside an attacker’s car, or if the attacker is inside the car of a victim, the victim should try to crash the car into a pole, another car, or “preferably a cop car.”

“Two things attackers hate are light and noise,” Mayfield said.

Mayfield demonstrated the best way to loosen the grip of an attacker from a victim’s neck.

Deputy Ben Long grabbed the sheriff around the neck, and Mayfield collapsed his knees and slumped down.

“Just go limp,” Mayfield said.

He said going limp will pull on the attacker’s arm and allow the victim to roll out of their grip.

If everything else fails, a punch or kick to the groin should help get the job done, Mayfield said.

The idea is to get out of harm as fast as possible, he said.

He also addressed scenarios wherein women are stranded in their cars without cell phone service.

He said if someone offers to help, lock the doors, crack the window to speak, do not tell the stranger you do not have a cell phone and ask him or her to alert the next service station or call law enforcement as a backup plan.

Mayfield said many of the tips he gave are based on common sense, but it is crucial to make a plan ahead of time because danger can cloud the brain.

“(In times of danger,) you get tunnel vision, you’re not thinking clearly, and your adrenaline is running. You need to have mental toughness and mental preparation. That is the most important thing in a confrontation,” Mayfield said.

A second class in the workshop series is set for 8 to 11 a.m. Saturday and will focus on firearm safety and familiarization.