WASHINGTON COUNTY, Tenn. (WJHL) — When it comes to reducing your risk of becoming a victim of a crime, first and foremost Washington County, Tennessee Chief Deputy John Rose said victims are never to blame. However, there are ways he said people can help reduce their risks.

Rose likes to use driving as an analogy for how to keep one’s self safe.

“You’re looking at the other vehicles,” Rose said. “How much distance do I have between that vehicle and my vehicle? So if they do something crazy, I can slam the brakes on without hitting them.”

In the same way, Rose said people should trust their intuition when out and about whether in their car or on foot.

“If I see something suspicious, create distance,” said Rose. “If somebody’s on the street, and they look suspicious to you, don’t talk yourself out of it, listen to that little voice inside, cross the street. That distance of the street gives you time to react if they do something.”

He also recommended keeping car doors locked both when driving and parked to create a longer reaction time.

While it depends on a case by case, Rose said to try to avoid going to another location with the person and never risk one’s life for property.

“If all they want is my property, they can have it all day long,” said Rose. “If they want my life or to hurt me, I want to fight with everything I have.”

While the Washington County Sheriff’s Office doesn’t currently offer self-defense courses, there are opportunities within the community.

James Smith is the chief instructor at Johnson City Martial Arts Academy. Smith said one of the reasons adults take martial arts is for self-defense.

“I can’t promise everyone that they’re going to be a great fighter,” said Smith. “But I can least promise that you’ll have a higher probability of de-escalating the fight, de-escalating the attack, to be able to make it to tomorrow.”

However, Smith said martial arts offers more than the ability to fight back, it helps people take charge.

“When you walk people in here that have no confidence who feel kind of beaten, then they walk out chin up, they’re actually ready to take on the world,” said Smith. “I have some students that are just leading their groups now and becoming successful management because they have that inner confidence.”

Additional advice from Rose, if someone does try to harm you don’t be afraid to yell out and draw attention to the situation.

Rose said if you are the victim of a crime and get away try to remember as many details about the suspect and their vehicle if possible and head to a nearby business and ask for help.

“Things like tag numbers, vehicle descriptions, general descriptions of the person’s clothing,” Rose said. “Then if you think about it, probably the safest places to run to are stores. Somebody’s in there conducting business. The chances of you going in there and being harmed again are very unlikely. Go there, ask them for their help, ask them to call 911, and then stay inside somewhere.”