By Maj. John Gilchrist (Leonard Wood)July 21, 2016
Fort Leonard Wood's U.S. Army Military Police Corps Regiment's latest in a series of leader development programs focused on lessons learned from last year's Baltimore protests.
Brig. Gen. Kevin Vereen, MP Corps Regiment chief and U.S. Army Military Police School commandant, hosted the quarterly LPD that took place in Lincoln Hall Auditorium July 8. Maj. Gen. Kent Savre, Maneuver Support Center of Excellence and Fort Leonard Wood commanding general, attended along with USAMPS, 14th Military Police Brigade and MSCoE leaders.
"The focus of the LDP sessions is to collaborate with local law-enforcement agencies to further promote the professionalism of our law enforcement personnel, while also exemplifying the Total Army Concept," Vereen said.
Col. Melissa Hyatt, Baltimore Police Department chief of patrol, opened the session describing the events leading to the deployment of their police department and the timeline of events that took place in April of last year.
The protests began after the Baltimore police department arrested Baltimore resident Freddie Gray who died four days later allegedly from injuries sustained while being transported in a police vehicle.
Protests after his arrest and subsequent death turned violent. Civil unrest continued with at least 20 police officers injured, at least 250 people arrested, 285 to 350 businesses damaged, 150 vehicle fires, 60 structure fires and looting. Thousands of police and Maryland National Guard troops deployed when a state of emergency was declared in the city limits of Baltimore.
According to Hyatt, lessons learned from the police department's response led to a "bottom-up" review of proposed changes in planning and tactics.
She said key observations were the need for planning and coordination to occur immediately and simultaneously, the need for proper equipment and training in the quantities of the equipment to support the police force.
Hyatt also told the audience of the importance of having a media engagement plan, messaging and having incident command systems embedded in all operations with clear lines of command.
Lastly, Hyatt mentioned the importance of understanding how to incorporate and integrate other law enforcement capabilities, assets and personnel, as well as planning for support from state and or federal agencies to sustain operations over long periods of time.
One of those federal agencies was the Maryland National Guard. According to Col. Drew Sullins, Maryland National Guard, the unit was activated to conduct defense support to civil authorities, due to the civil unrest in Baltimore.
"Our mission was to alert, mobilize and deploy forces in the joint operations area in order to assist civil authorities with the protection of life and property, the restoration and maintenance of peace and order and to ensure public safety," Sullins said.
Sullins talked in detail about the challenges of alerting, mobilizing and deploying 3,000 Army and Air National Guard service members. Additionally, Sullins highlighted lessons learned across training, logistics and interoperability focal areas bringing to the forefront the complexities of such a mission involving the integration of various policing and security organizations.
"It is important, and we will maintain professional ties with the Baltimore Police Department and the Maryland National Guard," Vereen said.
An LDP, presented by the Boston Police Department on its response to the Boston Marathon Bombing, is planned by USAMPS in the coming months.
(Editor's note: Information for this article provided by Maj. John Gilchrist, USAMPS Directorate of Training and Education operations officer.)