It’s up to you to stay safe out there

By Stephanie Holinka

Photography By Randy Montoya

Friday, July 20, 2018

Trish Hoffman demonstrates a self defense move

GOTCHA NOW — Trish Hoffman shows some defensive moves to Sandia business operations intern Trey Patterson during her discussion of personal safety and property security, sponsored by Employee Health Services.

To stay safe, observe and assess your surroundings wherever you are, and take personal responsibility for yourself and others, retired Albuquerque Police Department public information officer Trish Hoffman told a Sandia crowd at a recent talk hosted by Employee Health Services.

“I get asked to talk about personal safety and self-defense. What I can tell you is that Albuquerque is a violent city,” Hoffman said. “But the key to personal safety and self-defense everywhere is being responsible for your personal safety.”

Hoffman retired from APD in December after 23 years as a public information officer, as well as filling positions in Internal Affairs and the Aviation Division. With more than 10 active certifications and specialty trainings in leadership, self-defense, defensive tactics and crisis intervention, Hoffman now trains women to take back power through Women Against Crime self-defense programs.

Hoffman urged attendees always to be aware of their surroundings. Though she’s retired from the police, she said she observes and assesses every situation in the same way she did then.

“When I was working, I could call for back-up. Now, there’s just me,” she said. “But everyone has a story. Where you come from, what’s happened to you, sets the stage for what you feel about personal safety.”

Hoffman said people often set up for interactions by the way they walk.

“If I am distracted, versus if I’m walking into the room confident, it changes how I’m perceived. It’s always better not to be the path of least resistance,” Hoffman said.

People have to train themselves to stay safe every day, Hoffman said.

“Athletes and martial artists have to train, every day, to be good at what they do. What if, every day, you pay attention to what’s around you when you do things like go to the ATM, when you are getting gas, etcetera,” Hoffman said. “Another thing to think about is learning a few key moves you can use.”

“If I am distracted, versus if I’m walking into the room confident, it changes how I’m perceived. It’s always better not to be the path of least resistance,” Hoffman said.

Hoffman suggests people carry purses, backpacks or briefcases on the non-dominant side, to keep the dominant hand free for defense.

“The first option to consider in a dangerous situation is always to run and scream,” Hoffman said. “The more distance you can make between you an attacker, the more time you have to assess the situation and decide what to do.”

Hoffman encouraged people to assess quickly when an attacker confronts them, then decide how to respond based on the type of threat the attacker represents.

“Anything in your purse and wallet can be replaced. But when you are personally threatened, such as when someone tries to take you to another location, that’s the time to respond,” she said.

Robbers prefer to take the path of least resistance, just like potential victims.

Lighting, sensors, alarm systems and a dog can deter burglars and make a home less attractive to them. Leaving attractive things in a car, especially visible garage door openers or documents with personal information, can be an invitation to thieves.

People bear the primary responsibility for their personal safety and the security of their property. Police response can feel like it takes a very long time. Hoffman encourages people to work with law enforcement to keep people safe.

“Law enforcement can’t do their job without the community, and the community can’t be safe without law enforcement. We have to work together. If something’s going on that isn’t right, pay attention to it, and follow through,” Hoffman said.