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Double duty - August 10, 2009
By: Jim Smith

Motor through Grayling most any time and you’ll find a military presence on display. Along with Army National Guard Units from Michigan, Ohio and Indiana, Camp Grayling hosts active and reserve components of the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard on its 147,000 acre training grounds. In addition, units of the Canadian Armed Forces train at Camp Grayling along with visiting armed forces from Latvia, United Kingdom, Hungary and Serbia.

What many folks don’t realize is that Camp Grayling does not just cater to military agencies. In order to fully utilize its facilities, the Camp also partners with more than 130 law enforcement agencies from all over Michigan.

The inter-agency cooperation began in late 1990’s, when Camp Commander Colonel Gary McConnell and his Provost Marshall, Nelson J. Cannon, former Sheriff of Kalkaska County, realized law enforcement agencies from across Northern Michigan could benefit from the training resources available at Camp Grayling. The pair also knew that the facilities could provide un-matched opportunities for specialized SWAT Team training, urban assault tactics training, live-fire training opportunities and other interior situations unavailable anywhere else in this part of the country.

So McConnell and Nelson organized the “Northern Michigan Law Enforcement Training Group” under authority of the “Urban Cooperation Act of 1961” and, in 2001, the group was approved by then Governor John Engler.

With police agency members paying membership fees of $125 to $250 per department, based on their number of officers, the Northern Michigan Law Enforcement Training Group is self-supporting. Food and lodging are made available on the base for as little as $25 for three full meals each day, $5 per day training fee and from $5 to $25 per day for lodging, (bring your own sleeping bag to full maid service). Training sessions run three to five days depending the covered subject matter and trainees have access to all ranges and facilities that are appropriate to the weaponry and skills being taught. Each department sets its own curriculum, which may include such diverse offerings as radar school, sniping, explosives, gas and urban assault. There is even a special 700-foot by 1,400-foot parking surface jointly developed by the Guard and the Training Group and used for specialized driver training.

The availability of this unique and comprehensive training facility has become well known among law enforcement agencies nation-wide. The facilities are utilized for highly specialized sniper training and has been used several times for K-9 training by agencies from as far away as Missouri and Arkansas.

Currently the Group is being run by Kelly Foy, training coordinator, with the help of an assistant and  both paid are paid for out of the earnings of the organization. Law enforcement agencies interested in learning more about the training opportunities available through the Group or becoming a member may reach Foy at (989) 344-1427.

– Photos by SSG Jim Downen, staff photographer, Michigan National Guard.

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