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Police investigator and “Survivor” winner holds survivor strategy program for walkers, joggers

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KWWL) — A winner of the hit show “Survivor,” who also doubles as an Iowa police officer, is empowering people with survivor strategies on outdoor trials.

Sara Lacina knows first-hand what it takes to survive, from her training as a Cedar Rapids Police investigator to a winner of Season 25 of the television show, “Survivor.”

In a free event to the public hosted by the police department, Lacina shared her skills and knowledge in order to empower others in taking control of their personal safety.

“The tips that I get in my everyday life and my activities outside of work have definitely prepared me for being more aware of my surroundings and how to survive,” Lacina said.

A group of 80 people showed up to listen to Lacina, who shared tips like how to be more observant and aware, like advising people to not wear noise-canceling headphones.

“In the event that an attack could happen to you, how can you be prepared for it and how to keep yourself safe and then also how to recognize potential threats or predators or things like that, so that you can find ways to either deter them or completely avoid them,” she said.

Lacina also talked about how important observation skills are. Honing in on her experience as a police officer, she recommended people take mental notes of people while out, such as clothing, height, weight, build and visible tattoos.

The event comes several months after Cedar Rapids woman, April Mead was harassed by four teens which later resulted in charges against all four.

During the event, Mead stood up to share her frightening experience.

“I did feel like I was endangered, but I didn’t know quite what to do,” Mead told the room.

Reflecting, Mead also spoke about what she would do differently.

“I did have my phone with me. It took me too long, I think, to call for help,” she told them.

Mead also said the ordeal taught her to be more observant and aware. She also added it’s important that others, who may not experience anything on a trail directly but witness something unusual, speak up.

The hope was to make more people feel comfortable taking to the trails.

“I, myself, have been a victim of not being safe running in an area just feeling uncomfortable and that’s not a good feeling. I hope that when people walk away from this that they can feel confident and safe,” Lacina said.

Lacina also talked about how it’s important to walk or run with confidence. She said to keep your head up and make eye contact with potential attackers to show them that you see them, and that you’re not an easy target.

Always keep your phone with, Lacina said, and if you feel like your life is endangered, call 911.

The Cedar Rapids Police Department said the event was in no way to suggest the city is unsafe. They have few incidents reported to them about problems on trails but they recognize that some cases, like harassment, may go unreported.

They always encourage people to call them whether it was something you experienced or witnessed. It may help others, too.