Law enforcement, women’s group team up for police encounter class
By WVUA 23 News Reporter Maria Grenyo
Encounters with law enforcement are rarely happy occasions, and one local women’s group is giving its members the tools to ensure they stay safe when it does happen.
Soroptimist International of Tuscaloosa hosted its first event since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic Monday night, titled Surviving the Encounter and Basic Self Defense. Their goal? Showing women how they can protect themselves and their rights during police encounters.
“We are an organization that promotes the dreams of women and girls,” said organization Co-President Caroline Williams. “We hope to be able to present some important information for women and girls about any of the encounters they may have with any law enforcement officers.”
The event emphasized the importance of being respectful to law enforcement, but also the necessity for officers to calmly handle every incident from routine traffic stops to life-threatening situations.
Local law enforcement member Antonio Bostic said he wants the police and community to come to a mutual understanding and respect.
“We want to bridge the gap between law enforcement and the community,” he said.
Bostic said he wanted women to leave the event knowing their Fourth Amendment rights — the right to remain silent — and what to do if they are stopped by police, so the women and officers can remain safe in every situation.
“We try to encompass everybody,” he said. “The whole goal is everybody goes home safely.”
Bostic said he advises women to pull over in a brightly lit area, turn on the inside car lights, roll down a window enough to speak to an officer and avoid making any quick movements.
“We just want to talk to them about using common sense when you come into contact with law enforcement,” Bostic said.
You can learn more about Soroptimist International of Tuscaloosa right here.