Georgia cops use Brazilian jiujitsu to help subdue resisting suspects

If you resist arrest or attack a police officer in Marietta, beware. They're being trained to throw you to the ground.

While police use of force is in a nationwide spotlight, the Marietta Police Department has incorporated an unusual training method, Brazilian jiujitsu. It focuses more on grappling skills to take down suspects, instead of striking or punching them. The department contends that using more grappling techniques should reduce the need for officers to resort to punching a person who is resisting arrest.

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The department now requires its new cadets to receive comprehensive Brazilian jiujitsu training. Cadets will have to attend at least one training session per week from the time they are hired until they go through the academy and complete field training. Department spokesman Chuck McPhilamy said this could take about five months.

McPhilamy said he’s unaware if there are other departments incorporating the training into their routines.

“We are not doing it to be trend setters, but we have a goal to use the least amount of force possible,” he said.

Seven Marietta police cadets graduated Sept. 27 from the Georgia Public Safety Training Center with the training. McPhilamy said the participating cadets reported they were more prepared to take on the traditional hands-on defensive tactics training provided by the academy and felt more confident in their ability to do the job.

“We’ve been pleasantly surprised on all fronts,” he said.

The training is part of the department’s plan to better equip officers to handle their duties “with the least amount of injuries,” McPhilamy said. Two years ago, the department implemented crisis intervention training to teach officers verbal skills to de-escalate people in crisis. McPhilamy said Brazilian jiujitsu is the next step in moving away from traditional “hard-hand” techniques.

“This is another amazing tool that we are giving our officers in an attempt to make them the most equipped, smartest, most professional group of individuals,” he said.

The Marietta Police Department is partnering with Borges BJJ and Fitness on Canton Road in Marietta for the training. McPhilamy said SWAT officers have been taking jiujitsu training for a few years at the gym. After the unit saw a reduction in use-of-force incidents, the SWAT commander approached senior staff members and proposed adding jiujitsu training to new cadet requirements.

Marietta police are using asset forfeiture funds to pay for the training sessions. McPhilamy said the initiative could expand to current officers if the department can afford it.

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