BY ART BUKOWSKI
TRAVERSE CITY — It's never a bad idea to brush up on self-defense skills, law enforcement officials said.
The Garfield Township Parks & Recreation Commission will join the Grand Traverse Metro Fire and Grand Traverse sheriff's departments to host a free self-defense and awareness workshop on Saturday.
The class is free. It will be held at Metro station 12 at 2025 N. East Silver Lake Road in Silver Lake Park and run from 3 to 5 p.m. No advance registration is necessary.
Sheriff's Sgt. Preston Taylor will present at the class. Attendees won't be masters of physical self-defense after two hours, but they're expected to gain skills to respond quickly and effectively in a threatening situation.
"The people that come to class are not going to have to be fighting one-on-one with Sgt. Taylor," said Alisa Kroupa, a Garfield parks commissioner. "This is basically about being aware of your surroundings and how to not be caught off-guard."
Taylor is highly trained in self-defense, Kroupa said, and his police experience should come in handy.
"I think it's very useful for people to hear from someone who's exposed to dangerous and hazardous situations on a daily basis," Grand Traverse Undersheriff Nate Alger said.
Taylor said the class will feature lectures about awareness and rape prevention, along with demonstrations on basic physical techniques that will help people get away from assailants.
The recent assault of a woman as she walked along the Boardman Lake Trail served as a catalyst for the class, Kroupa said.
"Obviously, we all know that bad things happen at anytime to anyone, but the recent incident ... sort of hit home," she said. "It really bothered me to see that people were all of a sudden afraid to walk on our trails or in our parks."
David Michael Walter, 42, of Kingsley, is charged with attempted unlawful imprisonment and assault or assault and battery after the Sept. 16 incident.
Authorities believe Walter grabbed a woman and tried to drag her into the woods as she walked along the trail. She was able to fight free, run away and call police.
More information can be obtained from Kroupa at firstname.lastname@example.org.