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Memphis Police Learning Hand-To-Hand Combat

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(Memphis) The Memphis Police Department is taking proactive measures to help prevent officer-involved shootings.

Officer-involved shootings increased so much last year, that this year the department changed its refresher course for officers.

The Memphis Police Department says it not only added training to teach officers when and when not to shoot, but added hand-to-hand combat training. It's called Krav Maga, an Israeli self-defense technique.

“It’s entirely practical self-defense,” said Melissa Norwood, an instructor with Mid-South Krav Maga. “I may have only one strike on the street, only one opportunity to defend myself.”

“They are trying to teach them techniques on how to subdue individuals and not necessarily elevate the level of force,” said Mike Williams, the president of the Memphis Police Association.

Williams says the refresher course for officers this year is going to be different.

“I don`t think it’s because of any one particular shooting but because officers are being involved in numerous shootings," he said.

Williams says criminals have been more aggressive than in year's past: pointing guns at officers and resisting arrest.

That's why the department increased its yearly in-service training for officers from five to six days, doubling time in simulated scenarios where shooting a suspect may or may not be necessary.

The department also added a day of Krav Maga so officers have more confidence on the street.

“You have a very young department so you want to make sure that they have all of the tools necessary to be able to make the right decisions,” said Williams.

It's all in hopes officers can disarm suspects, get them into custody, without having to make any life or death decisions.