Police officers in Mesa, Arizona, will now receive jiu-jitsu training to have more tools at their disposal when using force.
According to NBC 12, the Mesa Police Department is embracing jiu-jitsu in the hope that the training will guide officers to use less force in physical interactions with members of the community, thereby leading to safer, less deadly outcomes.
Chad Lyman, a Nevada police officer and trainer/owner at Code 4 Concepts, is working with the Mesa Police Department to implement the training.
“We call it police jiu-jitsu,” Lyman said of the unique use-of-force training involving subject control, combat instruction, and physical defense.
“We do the traditional jiu-jitsu control holds, we also defend against strikes, defend against weapons systems and also work on retaining our weapons systems,” Lyman said.
Mesa Assistant Chief Dan Butler said the department has been looking into adopting the Brazilian martial art for more than a year.
“It’s really about safety,” Butler said, citing last year’s protests against police brutality as paving the way for introducing such reforms.
“That allowed for public support of programs like this. What it allows us to do is use lesser amounts of force,” Butler said.
Other departments that have adopted jiu-jitsu training, such as the Marietta Police Department in Georgia, have led the way by example. Post-training, their department reported a 23% drop in Taser use, a 48% reduction in injuries to officers using force and a 53% reduction in injuries to those being arrested.
Butler also said that the department has teamed up with the University of Texas to track officers involved in the training and gather data on their use-of-force, in order to measure the impact of the new training.
Butler said that more well-rounded training ultimately leads to more confidence – and confidence is key to using appropriate force.
“We know when we have a competent police officer. They’re more confident. When you’re more confident you’re more likely to use a more appropriate level of force,” he said.
Lyman credited the training with giving him the ability to think and act in intense situations with more composure.
“I was able to respond appropriately depending on what my suspect was doing. I was able to use a reasonable amount of force in a controlled manner,” Lyman said
Ultimately, Lyman said that jiu-jitsu gives more options for officers on the streets instead of resorting to higher levels of force.
The Mesa Police Department is expected to complete its jiu-jitsu training for all 800 sworn officers by the end of 2022. Advanced training will also be available for officers who wish to continue learning the martial art.
Butler plans to work with local gyms to allow officers to train outside of work hours to receive training credits.