A day at the post

By GARRETT NEESE

gneese@mininggazette.com

CALUMET TOWNSHIP – From robots to drug-sniffing dogs, the Michigan State Police got to show off several facets of its operation to the public at a four-hour open house at the Calumet post Wednesday afternoon.

Visitors could look at a variety of tasks carried out by the MSP at Calumet and other posts, including the dive team, bomb squad, K-9 unit, and emergency support team. Kids could also try a driving simulator or look at a 1991 Chevrolet Camaro.

“It’s put on so the public can see the services the police provide,” said Lt. Randal Danison, commander of the Calumet post. “It also gives them the chance to visit with the officers.”

Carrie Meneguzzo of Ahmeek brought her son Carter, 3. He drove on a simulated course, earning congratulations from Geno Basanese, a community service trooper with the Iron Mountain post.

“He’s a big fan of policemen, and he plays policeman all the time, with his police cat and police dog,” she said.

Trooper Steve Laux demonstrated basic exercises with the post’s K-9 dog, such as retrieving a set of keys, in front of a big crowd.

There are several commands, such as “down” or “find it”; Laux also offered positive reinforcement at the end of each task with a “Good boy!” But almost all their communication is non-verbal.

“Even though I say stuff to him, I pretty much don’t have to say anything anymore,” he said. “He knows what I want.”

Trooper Matt Peters showed off some of the robotic devices used in responding to crisis situations, such as a robot with adjustable treads that also allow it to scale stairs. If necessary, he said, it can also be used to bring materials inside.

“This could be our eyes and ears in a house,” he said.

William Myers, 8, of Tamarack City, called the robot his favorite part of the open house.

“It’s pretty cool,” he said.

About an hour in, Danison said the open house had been popular.

“We’ve had quite a few visitors,” he said. “We had a bus-full of kids from B-H-K (Child Development). It seems like the driving simulator’s a big hit. A lot of people like taking photos of that vintage Camaro out there.”