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Citizens learn safety strategies

The Chesapeake Police Department recently held a nationally renowned seminar that showed Western Branch citizens and others how to prepare for worst case scenarios.

Chesapeake Police Officer and Crime Prevention Specialist Dupree Foster held “Refuse To Be A Victim” at Russell Memorial Library on Friday with help from Scott Sampson, National Rifle Association certified instructor.

The NRA program is not a firearms-related course but instead focuses on raising awareness for crime prevention methods that are simple and practical.

“We give them a lot of options and things to think about so they can mentally prepare,” Foster said. “Whether they’re going to run or going to fight, they need to consider their options. The worst thing you could do is just freeze and not do anything at all.”

The free program drew an audience of 26 individuals, Foster said. Each of them received a 64-page student handbook for the three-hour program to help them develop their own personal safety strategies.

The audience included residents of Suffolk, Norfolk, Virginia Beach and even North Carolina, plus officers affiliated with Hampton Roads Regional Crime Prevention Association.

“We never stop learning,” said Norfolk’s Officer Eddie Rodriguez. “We’re all about constantly training and learning different ideas, concepts, techniques or what have you. A lot of it’s the same, but there may be something different that we can learn from.”

Citizens were encouraged to have at least half a tank of gas when traveling on the road and to consider your options if someone attempts to steal your car or harm you.

“Is it just me in the vehicle, or are my kids in the back seat?” Sampson said. “Think, pre-plan and try to think what your actions are going to be.”

Many of the travel tips were about common sense, trusting your instincts and being aware of possible dangers. One of those dangers could simply be giving someone the benefit of the doubt.

“My husband recommended I take this course because I’m generally somebody that will talk to strangers and give out too much information,” said Chesapeake resident Jennifer Rice, 56. “It’s nice to want to help somebody out, but you need to look after your own safety.”

Rice learned that many strike plates for door locks were held to door frames by just half-inch screws, when three-inches is the ideal length screw length for home security.

“I’m definitely going to check on that when I get home,” she said.

Chesapeake resident Katheryn Bull, 45, sat and took notes in her handbook with her daughter Annalee, 14. Bull said the information was especially useful for this time of year when people are desperate for money.

“I would recommend it to anybody,’ she said. “My husband is into all of this, which is why we have so many of these things in place, but I know there’s a lot of people out there that don’t think that way.”

Foster said this was his first public presentation of the seminar in Chesapeake after several private presentations. He expects to hold more based on feedback from Friday’s participants.

“I had a friend that wanted to come, but it was filled up,” Rice said. “It’d be nice to see a larger location utilized.”