Earlier today I had an opportunity to be an observer at the very first Oakland County Tactical Training Consortium’s small squad tactics practice exercise held at the CREST center. This was the culmination of a year’s worth of training–700 officers in total –in Mobile Field Force tactics which is essentially readiness for a violent civil disorder event. There are all kinds of situations that can cause an event that would require the team: people “celebrating” a sports victory, political protesters, economic protestors, labor disputes, all sorts of things. Here in Auburn Hills we have trained in this type of preparedness for more than 10 years. I am a believer in being ready for any reasonable potentiality and civil disorder is one of those things that is low-frequency/high risk, which means that it doesn’t happen very often but when it does, there is a very high price for failure–for the community and the agency. So to deal with the fact that we are not faced with these events very often, we must train and train. The beauty of this kind of cooperative effort is that when our people train together they can react together. This type of event is very likely to need a large force of people to contain, in today’s exercise there were 50 officers and command officers involved. No single agency can produce a large enough force to get the job done–we have to work together.
The training and equipment were purchased by federal grant dollars–your tax dollars at work. Our goal in this type of event is to prevent or limit injury to people or property using the least amount of force necessary. That is much more likely to happen, in my opinion, if the officers are well-trained and well-disciplined in this type of highly emotional and challenging situation. The goal is always to get the people to disperse without further action. If you study this type of event you’ll find a whole range of instances where they went good and not so good–examples are the G8 Summits held around the world. One in Seattle about 10 years ago went disastrously wrong and others have been done very successfully.
We are part of the leadership of the group through Deputy Director Jim Manning who is the group’s secretary and Deputy Director Thom Hardesty and Lt. Cas Miarka who volunteered to be the command officers for the exercise; Officers Bryan Eftink and Matt Halligan who are instructors and were participants today.
I heard the group’s leader, Chief Gary Mayer from Troy talk to the team about how he hoped that this training would never be used–but that he was glad we were ready if called upon.
I couldn’t agree more.