UFC bantamweight contender Jimmie Rivera has opened up on his program that teaches police officers self-defence.

In 2020, America was rocked by the death of George Floyd – an unarmed black man who died due to “asphyxiation from sustained pressure” caused by police officer Derek Chauvin resting his knee on Floyd’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds.

The murder which was caught on camera triggered global protests in support of the Black Live Matter movement. Some called for police forces to be defunded. Other said officers need more training to stop things like this happening in the future.

During his time in the COVID-19 induced lockdown, Rivera has linked up with Elmwood Park, police chief Michael Foligno to create a mandatory program that focuses on teaching police officers self-defense and de-escalation tactics.

“One of the biggest things that I think I have to say I started,” Rivera said to Ryan Jarrell of LowKickMMA.” Me and the police chief of the town where our headquarters are at. We started a program where officers have to train with me three times a month, mandated.

“I’m teaching them an hour of jiu-jitsu and a half-hour of boxing, offence and defence,” Rivera explained. “A lot of officers they go to the academy for six months and they only do a week or two of defensive tactics…and that’s it. Either they continue doing it when they graduate or they don’t. That’s a huge thing because officers are out there to protect victims. They’re out there and have to restrain suspects. They’re out there and they have to make sure they go home at night.

“So, what I want to do and what I’ve been doing the police chief and I have started a program to basically teach officers how to defend themselves without resorting to their OC spray, tasers, or gun.”

“I mean obviously if you show up and someone has a gun, you don’t bring a knife to a gun fight,” Rivera continued. “A lot of it has to do with learning how to defend themselves. If they have to grab someone or if someone grabs them. If someone is on top of a victim. And be able to hold someone down without doing submissions and locks – learn how to use your body. It’s a big thing.

Rivera explained that the initiative was a reaction to George Floyd’s death.

“You see from the George Floyd case. What the officer did was wrong and me and the chief agree that there are better ways to handle the situation,” Rivera said. “Unfortunately, these cops are trained in the law. They’re trained how to shoot, and they are trained how to use a taser and trained how to use OC spray. But they are not trained enough in close range self defence and jujitsu and they need more of that training, so they are confident when they go out there.”

“It’s not right away hands-on, that’s the last resort,” Rivera concluded. “Right away, de-escalation, verbal judo, using your words. But if you are not confident that in those words and you are not confident you can defend yourself then those words don’t come across strong.”

Rivera is set to face fellow bantamweight contender Pedro Munhoz at UFC 258 on February 13.

Do you think Jimmie Rivera will find success with his program?

A lifelong fight fan from Liverpool, England who has been covering mixed martial arts (MMA) and boxing for several years. Follow @JordanEllisUK on Twitter for all the latest fight news, views, interviews and live event coverage.