Tiverton Police Launch Martial Arts Pilot Program
TIVERTON, RI — Tiverton police are getting a new kind of training, after the department launched a pilot program in July to train officers in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
Tiverton Police Chief Patrick Jones said six officers are participating in the new program — the first of its kind in Rhode Island — at Danny Savery BJJ & Martial Arts Academy, which has locations in Bristol and Somerset, MA.
The pilot program started with Lt. Bryan Palagi, himself a 12-year Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioner who trained with Savery, a former Tiverton police officer and owner of the martial arts academy, according to Jones.
The chief said many of the hand-to-hand combat and restraint techniques taught during the 10-week use of force program at the Rhode Island Municipal Police Academy are based in BJJ.
But after graduation, many police officers get very little hand-to-hand training, making it difficult to retain their skills.
"The physical techniques and skills you learn in the Academy are perishable, so it can be difficult to remain proficient in those skills without training regularly," Palagi said.
Each of the six Tiverton officers receive 4-8 hours of hand-to-hand training and practice per month, much more than the average training time — a few hours per year.
Brazilian jiu-jitsu focuses on control and restraint rather than striking, according to the department.
Jones said the practice could therefore help police officers stop a physically combative interaction in a way that puts both parties at lower risk of injury, and may help decrease the department's overall use of force.
Savery said regular practice of physical techniques may also help officers adjust to high-adrenaline situations.
The department will evaluate the program after a few months by comparing use of force data, number of officer injuries, and number of suspects' injuries between officers in the program and those who are not.