Oakland County deputies visit military training facility to practice emergency situations

Simulated city at Camp Grayling helps deputies train for emergencies

SWAT Training
SWAT Training

OAKLAND COUNTY, Mich. – The Local 4 Defenders took an exclusive look at a military training facility in Northern Michigan where Oakland County deputies practice emergency situations.

Camp Grayling is a military training facility that covers around 147,000 acres. It has state-of-the-art ranges, support facilities and a simulated city.

At first glance, the simulated city looks like any small town.

“Over here, this is a mocked up police station,” Oakland County Capt. Christopher Wundrach said. “You have an embassy over here. You have some small stores, a convenience center over here, a hotel in the background. They have a church. They have an apartment building. They have a school, and this is all to train military personnel.”

Many police departments visit the simulated city to improve and refresh their skills.

“There are so many different scenarios we might face,” Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard said. “It could be a hostage. It could be somebody wounded in the front yard. It could be some kind of barricaded gunman with somebody pinned in the basement.”

Deputies spend five days training at the facility. They go over what they do right and wrong during simulations.

In one situation deputies entered a building as if it was a hostage situation. They moved from room to room and floor to floor.

“They actually begin to meld better,” Bouchard said. “They begin to work better. They begin to recognize ... and anticipate each other’s moves. That’s all kind of a -- almost a ballet that they have to know, ‘You’re going here and I’m going here and I’m going to cover this.’"

It didn’t take long for the hostage to be saved and brought out of the building. But the exercise wasn’t over. The hostage situation was moved to other locations and deputies practiced again.

“They have to improvise immediately because you don’t know if the person is hiding in a closet, they’re underneath a desk at the front,” Bouchard said. “You don’t know where they are.”

Lt. Larry Perry gave Local 4 an up-close look at the armored vehicle they call “the bear.”

“This is the camera,” Perry said. “It fits into the ram.”

Twenty suited-up deputies can fit in the interior, which is nearly six feet tall.

“If we wanted to take it and put it in a building and drive the vehicle up, punch it through the side wall, flip a switch on the dash, deploy gas, tear gas, anything you need to do,” Berry said.

Other scenarios included victims being injured or shot. Members of the SWAT team arrived to save the person, but there was a gunman waiting. In one scenario, a woman had been shot and was lying injured on the ground. A gunman was inside shooting at oncoming deputies who tried to save her. A smoke grenade was set off.

“That smoke is to give cover so when they get out to take that wounded woman, there’s not a clear visual for the shooter to her or to see the rescuers,” Bouchard said.

The armored vehicle strategically pulled up between the shooter and the victim, and she was rescued.

“We hope and pray it never happens here,” Bouchard said. “But preparation is really the most important thing.”

Bouchard said police are trying to build a training center in Oakland County so deputies could train more and not be pulled away from their job to go up north.

Deputies said they use ultimate training munitions, not live ammunition. The marking cartridge allows them to use their real weapons system to shoot back.

About the Authors:

Karen Drew is the anchor of Local 4 News First at 4, weekdays at 4 p.m. She is also an award-winning investigative reporter and part of the Local 4 Defenders team.

Derick is a Senior Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.