She lived in captivity for 18 years and bore two children by her abductor. But Jaycee Dugard was rescued in 2009 after two campus police in California noticed something not right about a man with two young girls
Dugard visited Lake Charles recently to help provide police training and to visit with some McNeese criminal justice students.
Dugard's long captivity is stunning, along with the numerous failures by law enforcement and parole officers who might have rescued her sooner. Yet Dugard uses her story for good.
Her Lake Charles visit was for her foundation's Law Enforcement Officer training.program.
"It's just a way for me to share my story and hopefully, it makes a difference in the lives of these officers because they have such a hard job, and I really want them to know that my story is not about blaming them for anything that can happen, but turning it into something that can do some good," Dugard said.
The training involves horses, in part because the exercise requires sensitivity to the animals and how they react - depending on how they're approached.
"Everybody's different and every horse is different. And every person is different and just being able to see the cues on a horse and know, 'Oh, maybe I need to hang back a little bit or maybe it's time for me to approach,' just noticing those cues and horses really help with that," said Dugard.
Dugard's therapist, Dr. Rebecca Bailey, said Jaycee has an amazing heart, spirit, and desire to give back.
"I think it would be hard put to find a lot of folks that would do that, to say, 'You know what, I'm going to give back.' This is what I want to do. When you meet Jaycee, you can't help but be reinvigorated with hope and opportunity," she said.
And she said the training program serves law enforcement and those who have suffered a trauma.
"Not only does it allow for better police work, it's also more compassionate service and really, we like to think it makes you feel a little bit better about yourself, because a lot of these guys and gals are dealing with the difficult situations all the time without a whole lot of positive reinforcement back," said Bailey.
McNeese University Professor Steve Thompson arranged for the training for some local officers.
"As a retired state trooper, I understand what happens - the job gets tough. And sometimes you either get complacent or might lose part of your compassion.This is just an opportunity to remind ourselves and public safety practitioners why we chose to do the job we do and the outcomes they can have because Jaycee was found by two observant police officers. She was finally rescued when someone saw something wrong and actually did something about it," said Thompson.
And he said criminal justice students were also incredibly inspired.
"I keep getting feedback from them since it happened - texts, emails and phone calls and things like, 'Life changing, renewed commitment, excellence' and so forth - ready to tackle the problems of the world," he said.
For Dugard, helping to make the world a better, safer place is a positive way to deal with what she went through.
"I'm glad to be able to share my story and to move on and to have what happened to me make a difference, because it was so horrible on me and my family," she said.
Dugard was kidnapped in 1991 while walking to a school bus stop. She resurfaced in 2009 after her abductor's strange behavior led to her rescue.
Dugard's JAYC ("Just Ask Yourself to Care")"Foundation website has more information about her work and police training. J
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