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NEWS | May 17, 2016

Army Reserve MPs go to state penitentiary

By Sgt. Audrey Hayes 303rd Military Police Company

JACKSON, Mich. - Sounds of rattles and clanks echoed through the Michigan State Prison as handcuffs restrained the wrists of Soldiers from the 303rd Military Police Company in Jackson, Michigan. This time, force was being used on them.

 "Do not look at me! Hands above your shoulders! I said, hands above your shoulders!" yelled a slender Officer Tori Vandermoere, as she applied cuffs to a meaty male MP who was belly-down on the ground. "It doesn't matter if it's a guy who is twice your size, or of it's a small girl, the gooseneck tactic along with the knee in shoulder will work on anyone," she informed the company's 1st Platoon.

 This is the third platoon from the company who has come to the Charles Egeler Corrections facility to receive training on detainee operations. The visit went beyond the standard military training. The event was led by instructors who teach new recruits inmate control for the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC).

 The idea for the training was initiated by 1st Lt. Christopher Jordan, platoon leader for 3rd platoon from Fowlerville, Michigan, who is also an employee with MDOC. He wanted to help his Soldiers gain out-of-the-box, but applicable training.

"I wanted to see if we could get some familiarization of how we could function in a corrections facility, since we are preparing for the possible mission to Guantanamo Bay," said Jordan.

 He initiated coordination between the correctional facility and the unit. From there, he was able to get in contact with Kevin Lindsey, the deputy warren of the correctional facility to work out a schedule. 

"We are familiarizing them with searches, use of force policy, restraining, proper escort techniques, and cell extraction," said Sgt. Christopher Schweikert, a human resources developer and institutional training officer with the correction facility from Jackson, Michigan.

 One of the MPs with the 303rd MP Co., Pfc. Chitranjan Greer-Travis from Adrain, Michigan, was a former corrections officer for the MDOC and is certified in cell extraction.

"The training that we got here was actually the best training that I've had as a civilian or military member," said Greer-Travis. "They utilized the red man suit [padded outer wear, which keeps the trainer protected from the training cell rush team] and with the possible mission coming up, taking people who have never worked in a prison setting, were given the opportunity to see what real cell extraction is like."

When prisoners will not comply to be restrained, this is when the cell-extraction team assembles comes in to play.

 The stomps of the cell extraction team pounded on the tile floor and then came to a dead silence when they reached cell 5. The instructor who dawned the red man suit was on the other side of the door. After the team failed to gain compliance from the "detainee," the team lined up on the cell door to prepare to breach the room.

 "For instance, you say, 'Prisoner Jones, 293428, Back up to the slot to be restrained,'" said Greer-Travis. "And he'll say, 'No. Get away from me.' And then you say, 'Okay, prisoner Jones, 293428, back up to the slot to be retrained or else we'll use force against you.' And if they don't, if they don't cuff up, then after following policy procedures, we'll have to go in and get him."

The team in front of cell 5 had a hard time making it through the cell door. As it turns out, Officer Vandermoere, the slender female, was the one in the red suit.

"What did I tell y'all? This is why we're doing this," she said. "The scrawniest little princess can turn into the biggest (expletive), and you won't have no idea what hit you."

 "I've been doing this for 21 years," said Sgt. Martin McCallum, a corrections officer supervisor from Lansing, Michigan. "Being able to control a situation is imperative. Prisoners will do what they can to throw you off, and we want (Soldiers) to stay focused, have the ability to stay in control, keep their temper and stay professional."

Cameron Maciejewski, a cadet senior reservist in the simultaneous membership program from Troy, Michigan, has not been through the MP qualification course yet.

 "This training gave me real-life practical exercises," he said. "The most challenging part was learning to move as a squad, but even with that, the training taught me a lot about how prisons operate and what to expect."

 The instructors who trained the 303rd not only came in on their day off, but were eager to teach and in a way, give back to their country.

 "They kicked my butt for a good hour, and when I came out we were high-fiving. It was like a team," said McCallum. "Hopefully, when they deploy over there, someone will think, 'Sgt. McCallum told me this.' They would probably say, 'Remember when I threw Sgt. McCallum on that bed?' Because they did, and man, they got me."