Michigan National Guard provides law enforcement support in Kenosha, Wisconsin

Soldiers from the 177th Military Police Brigade receive a briefing after returning from Kenosha, Wisconsin where they responded to civil unrest Sept. 3, 2020, at Fort Custer, Mich. Nearly 300 Michigan National Guard military policemen traveled to Kenosha to provide law enforcement support to the Wisconsin National Guard and local law enforcement agencies. (U.S. Air National Guard photos by Senior Airman Tristan D. Viglianco)

Story by Senior Airman Tristan D. Viglianco

Michigan National Guard

Both bordering Lake Michigan, Wisconsin and Michigan have a long history of mutual cooperation and strong ties as Midwestern states. So, when Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers requested support for law enforcement in Kenosha and the surrounding areas, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer answered, authorizing the use of two companies of Michigan National Guardsmen and women in Wisconsin.

“We were sent there to augment and assist the Wisconsin National Guard with response to the civil disturbances in Kenosha,” said Maj. Jared Van Dop, 210th Military Police Battalion executive officer. “We did some critical site security and we were a stand by quick-reaction force to [support local law enforcement if requested].”

Nearly 300 Michigan National Guard military policemen, from the 46th Military Police Company, in Corunna and the 1775th Military Police Company in Pontiac, both under the 177th Military Police Brigade, traveled to Wisconsin for the mission. From Aug. 29 to Sept. 2, the unit stayed in Milwaukee where they were able to provide support to Kenosha and surrounding communities.

“People have a right to peacefully protest, but at the same time the citizens have a right to be protected,” said Van Dop. “Essentially, we were there to make sure any protests or demonstrations remained peaceful. It was good to see that with the influx of additional law enforcement agencies and the National Guard, the area quickly stabilized.”

The MPs worked closely with the Kenosha Police Department, Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department, and various other police departments from neighboring communities.

According to Sgt. 1st Class Prescott Ingraham, 210th MP Bn. logistics NCO and an officer in the Montcalm County Sheriff’s office, the manpower provided by the National Guard was essential.

“When our units were out they were always accompanied by local law enforcement,” said Van Dop, emphasizing the Guard’s role as a supporting agency to local authorities. “We always want the local law enforcement to be the face of the operation on the ground.”

While in Wisconsin, the Soldiers were under the command of Wisconsin’s Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Paul E. Knapp.

“We are tremendously grateful for the support we received from our National Guard brothers and sisters from Michigan during our state’s time of need,” Maj. Gen. Paul Knapp, Wisconsin’s Adjutant General, said. “Michigan troops, along with those who answered the call from Arizona and Alabama, conducted themselves in an extremely professional manner and greatly enhanced our ability to assist civil authorities in preserving public safety in Kenosha. The Wisconsin and Michigan National Guard have a long history of partnership dating back more than a century to the 32nd “Red Arrow” Division, when our troops fought side-by-side on the battlefields of France in World War I and through the jungles of New Guinea and the Philippines during World War II, and that partnership clearly remains strong today.”

In addition to the Michigan units, National Guardsmen from Arizona and Alabama also assisted in the effort. According to Van Dop, the Arizona Guardsmen were attached to the Michigan units and were known as Task Force Wolverine.

“Working with the Wisconsin Guard was fantastic,” said Ingraham. “Whatever we needed they were able to get it to us. It was seamless and they were really helpful.”

The longstanding relationship between Michigan and Wisconsin resulted in mission success and helped ensure the safety of Kenosha residents. Additionally, every member of Task Force Wolverine was tested for COVID-19 before being released from orders; results for all 280+ personnel returned negative, proof that the protective measures implemented during the mission, such as masks and social distancing, was effective.

“The success of this mission is proof that the men and women of the Michigan National Guard are well trained, equipped, and able to swiftly respond to assist our neighbors and civil authorities when called upon,” said Maj. Gen. Paul Rogers, Adjutant General and Director of the Michigan Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. “We are proud to have been able to step up and support the citizens of Wisconsin to ensure public safety and their First Amendment rights to peaceful assembly.”

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