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Mock Prison Riot - After action report

The Michigan Department of Corrections Emergency Response Team attends the Mock Prison Riot every year.

We compile a team of as many as forty Emergency Response Team members from 27 teams throughout the state, with each team sending one or two members to participate in the events of the conference. The 2007 attendance was somewhat smaller due to budgetary issues in the state. The Department was unable to financially support the conference this year and all attendees provided their own funding.

Our team’s goal was to participate in the events in an effort to learn and develop tactics and training to improve our current programs. We also participate in the skills competition to evaluate our levels of fitness and proficiency.

Capt Richard McCall, commnder of the Michigan Department of Corrections Team shares his account:

Team members from across the states departed Sunday May 6 and arrived in Moundsville, West  Virginia as late as the morning of May 7 2007. Team member assembled at the Former State Prison in West Virginia with all of the Issued disturbance control Equipment.

Mon. May 7 2007 1430hrs:
Approximately 12 prisoners have taken over the chow hall in the former State Prison of West Virginia. 28 members of the Michigan Emergency Response Team along with 8 members of the Saginaw Co. (MI) response team are equipped with shields, pepper ball launcher, shotguns, rifles, Riot batons, helmets, protective masks, chemical agents and flexible restraints.

The team marched to the East door of the chow hall. Capt. McCall gave orders to the volatile prisoners instructing the prisoners to surrender or force will be used against them. The prisoners refused, two distraction devices were deployed and the team charged the doors.

Four of the prisoners used table as shields and barricaded themselves in the right hand corner of the chow hall. The team focused half of their forces on the group barricaded and the remainder of the team held the rest of the rioting prisoners at bay with the use of baton and pepper ball launchers.

The prisoners were given direction that failure to comply with orders to give themselves up would result in the use of deadly force. The four barricaded prisoners, after being contaminated with chemical agents, lay on the floor and surrendered to the team.

The team reconvened in the center of the chow hall and marched forward pushing the remainder of the prisoners in to the back wall. The prisoners were forced in to compliance, restrained and escorted out of the chow hall.

Tues. May 8 2007 1430 hrs:
Approximately 10 prisoners have taken over J Block in the Former West Virginia prison. 28 member of the Michigan Department of Corrections, along with 8 member of the Saginaw County Sheriff’s Response team are equipped with riot shield, shotguns, rifles, handguns, three pepper ball launchers and a hydro-dispenser prepared to take the unit back.

The team marched in to J block using two distraction devices to create a diversion for their entry. Once inside, the unit three member of the tactical team assaulted the first gallery providing lethal and less lethal coverage for the remainder of the team assaulting the main floor. The Shield squad pushed the prisoner to the back of the unit, and most of them returning to their cell as they were pushed back.

One of the prisoners was armed and had to be restrained in his cell. A five person extraction team was within the initial assault and addressed that prisoner.       

Wed. May 9 0830 hrs:
8 prisoners had taken over J Block and the Saginaw CO Response team had assembled to respond. 8 member of the Michigan Department of Corrections ERT arrived to assist. Saginaw CO team member formed the Shield, Extraction, and Less Lethal teams. Michigan members dressed in as Restraint team members and Lethal Force coverage.

The team marched in and entered on the North end of the unit pushing prisoner back in to their cells as they progressed. The last prisoner to comply was armed with a knife. Several pepper ball rounds were deployed and the prisoner retreated to his cell. The extraction team was assembled at the door and was able to restrain the prisoner.

Many of the Michigan Emergency Response Team had to return to regular duties after the Scenario’s were completed. However 14 of our member stayed in West Virginia to compete in the skills competition.

This group included 7 female members who collectively formed an all-female team to compete. This is the third year or female team member have assembled to compete on a more challenging level. It is an excellent opportunity to develop team work both with the female team and in the entire team.

Thurs. May 10 0900 hrs:
Two Michigan Department of Corrections team members, Scott Grinnell and Pete Jennett, participated in the first of the skills events, the Super Swat Cop.

This event included the competition “Disassembling the Duty Pistol” — Competitors have to run out of the South gate and around the outer perimeter of the prison, re-enter the South gate, proceeding through each of the obstacles on the obstacle course, fire three rounds from an FX carbine, and the return to the shoot house to re-assemble the duty handgun and fire five rounds on target.

Thurs. May 10 1300 hrs:
“Mouse Trap” — A five-person team running approximately 80 yards and through many obstacles to enter the building have to proceed to the upper level where two less-lethal rounds were fired on a threat target in the main hall way. Once that threat was cleared, two team members had to neutralize two more threat targets in different rooms. Two other team members had to crawl through tunnels to find the “hostage” dummy and rescue it to a safe area. The entire area has booby traps (distraction devices with fishing line tied to the pull pin) throughout the building.  All team members had to run with all the equipment back to the starting line to finish the event. 

Fri. May 11 0900 hrs:

“The Bullseye” — Five team members fire 12 rounds each from their duty handgun at targets set fifteen yards away. On the start signal, each team member fires all twelve rounds and the time stops when the last team member is done. Targets are scored and the top and bottom score are divided by the time for the team score.

Fri. May 11 1100 hrs:
“Hostage rescue scenario” — This involved a five-person team running approximately 100 yards to a vehicle to retrieve equipment and then breaching their way in to a building against defending booby traps and hostile targets in the attempt to rescue the hostage and get the team, hostage, and equipment to a safe area, and then returning to the vehicle to finish the event.

Fri. May 11 1300 hrs:
“The Obstacle Course” — A five-person team running through 13 obstacles, including Jacob Ladder, rope climb, the attic, uneven bars, rope wall, A-frame, balance beam, cargo net, tube, snake pit rock pit, horizontal rope.

Fri. May 11 1830 hrs:
At the Awards Banquet, steak and baked potatoes were served while the award-winners were recognized.

The team was able to test new equipment on the three days of scenarios. We tested Fox laboratories’ hydro-sprayer. This was a valuable tool as it created enough force to deter advancing prisoners. This piece of equipment can transition in to a chemical agent dispenser as well being very beneficial to outside or yard disturbances.

We also tested the Disturbance Resolution Suits from Red Man. These suits provide mobility and protection that is very crucial to the tactical teams. We will be providing documentation to our department in an attempt to expand our use of this equipment.
Our team also tested the Shield-Technologies shield design in two of our three scenarios. This new design was an excellent adaptation to the common designs out now. It provides better protection for team member and more comfort for the extended time frames this type of equipment can be deployed for.      

During the time we participated we were in the process of a test and evaluation of equipment we had just purchased/designed for our team. Our department has our own textile division and collectively we had designed a new Tactical Vest from the ideas we have learned in the past and developed a vest to be tested during the week. Very minor alterations were suggested but production should be online soon.

The skills competition is always a very good opportunity to test our physical skills and abilities under stressful situation. Michigan team was 5th overall this year. It was our best standing yet, and we will continue to learn and improve.

Each of the scenarios gives us an opportunity to tests our tactical planning and training content. Each year we learn what our weak and strong points are.

This is my fourth year participating as the commander or team leader of the Michigan team in the Mock Riot program, and I look forward to the opportunity to learn and grow each year.

I spend weeks watching the video and looking at the picture in an attempt to develop tactical planning and the need for the improvement of safety and effectiveness for the team. Our team has no other venue to practice on this level. For these types of deployments, this practice is crucial. Our practice of participating in the Mock Riots has become an invaluable tool in team and member development.

We will continue to evaluate this year’s event until we can be tested on what we learned this year at next year's competition.

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