State Police open house for 100 years at Calumet Post

Graham Jaehnig/Daily Mining Gazette A group of children looks at some of the equipment of the Michigan State Police emergency support team during Friday’s MSP open house in Calumet on Friday.

CALUMET — The Michigan State Police is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, and the Calumet Post joined the celebration on Friday with an open house.

“We’re holding the open house here so we have the community come in and celebrate with us,” said Lt. Randy Danison. “Have the people come in, and we can get to know the people in the community.”

In spite of local urban legend, the State Police were not an outgrowth of the Michigan militia as a result of the Copper Country strike of 1913. According to the MSP website, the Michigan Department of State Police began as a temporary, wartime emergency force for the purpose of domestic security during World War I. On April 19, 1917, Gov. Albert Sleeper created the Michigan State Troops Permanent Force, (also known as the Michigan State Constabulary).

In addition to that information, Danison added another detail not mentioned on the website.

“The MSP started off over in Bessemer,” he said.

Col. Roy C. Vandercook was the first commanding officer, and the new force consisted of five troops of mounted, dismounted and motorized units, totaling 300 men.

Today, the MSP is much larger, and far more extensive. The department consists of a modern-day force of law enforcement professionals, using the latest up-to-date training and technology to protect the citizens of Michigan. What was once a cavalry of 300 men now has evolved into one of the leading police agencies of the United States. Just a bit of that was represented at the Calumet Post open house.

“There is equipment here from the Marquette forensic laboratory,” Danison said. “We have our K-9 team here, our emergency support team, and we had our commercial vehicle enforcement division team is here also. The emergency support team is basically are S.W.A.T-type of people.”

Danison the said the turnout for the open house, which ran from 11 a.m to 2 p.m. was excellent.

On March 26, 1919, Public Act 26 reorganized the Constabulary as the permanent, peace-time Michigan State Police. Michigan adopted a new Constitution in 1963, authorizing up to 20 departments. Public Act 380 of 1965 reorganized the Michigan Department of State Police as one of these departments. The director holds the rank of colonel and is appointed by the governor.