Police offer defense classes to Snoqualmie, North Bend women

The defense classes have been offered since 2012 using the nationally-recognized RAD program.

The Snoqualmie Police Department has hosted self defense classes for local women since 2012 when the program first began, and Cpl. Nigel Draveling has been teaching the program since the start.

The department aims to offer about five courses every year, consisting of four classes per course that teach attendees using the nationally-recognized Rape Aggression Defense system. The course culminates into an aerosol defense class where participants learn how to use pepper spray against an aggressor.

“It’s a women only self-defense class,” Draveling said. “Defense, awareness, recognition and avoidance — if you can learn how to do that, then you’re already 90 percent of the way.”

The course is open to women of any fitness level and attendees must attend each class in the course. Draveling is leading the final course of 2018 this week, but Snoqualmie and North Bend residents can expect another class at the end of January and early February 2019.

Students specifically learn strategies against assaults, including hands-on methods, crime prevention, risk reduction and avoidance.

Draveling says the methods are effective at helping his self defense students recognize potential aggressors and therefor they are more confident in avoiding them.

“Empowerment is probably the biggest feedback we get,” Draveling said.

The sense of empowerment and confidence can help participants with prevention, Draveling added.

There are some secrets Draveling tries to keep regarding the exact methodology they teach to the women, but one thing they use to throw off potential aggressors is simply throwing them off with confidence.

“You can recognize that there are problems out there,” Draveling said. “You’re walking down the road and you see some stranger who is acting weird or whatever, do you drop your head, keep walking by that person and hope that something doesn’t happen, or do you pick your head up, look like you’re confident in yourself and go to the other side of the street.”

Draveling has been at the Snoqualmie Police Department for about 20 years and, according to him, the two biggest requests from residents are for women’s self defense courses and firearm training.

Retired officer Dave Bond also is teaching this week’s class and has been helping develop the course with Draveling since it began.

“Dave Bond used to be with Normandy Park. He’s one of my original mentors,” Draveling said. “[He] came here and held [a course] for us… after that we got some really good reviews, went and got certified in 2013 and have been teaching it ever since.”

Draveling added that he enjoys teaching people how to defend themselves, and he hopes the women who attend his classes continue to feel empowered when they leave.

The classes are typically capped at about 16 attendees per course. However returning women can add to the class size without overwhelming the instructors because they already know the material.

This week’s class filled its 16 spots with an additional six returning women.

“That’s what’s pretty neat about the RAD program, it is lifetime return and practice for free anywhere in the world,” Draveling said.

Classes are usually held in North Bend and Snoqualmie and are only open to residents of those cities. Locals can contact Draveling at ndraveling@ci.snoqualmie.wa.us for more information.

“The class is excellent and we’re just going to keep pushing forward with it and hopefully keep adding stuff in the future,” Draveling said.