Ask Trooper Rob: Governor declares MSP history month

Published 10:18 pm Wednesday, April 18, 2012

On April 17, 1917, Governor Albert Sleeper, signed into law, the Culver Military Bill to provide for wartime defense.

Act 53 directed the governor to form a War Preparedness Board of top state officials to administer home defense measures in the absence of the State Military Board and to form emergency units of Michigan State Troops to assist civil authorities with law enforcement and riot suppression in the absence of the National Guard.

This board had recently appointed Major Roy C. Vandercook as the secretary to the board and directed him to organize and lead the Michigan State Troops.

Recalled to active service with the new rank of Colonel, Vandercook issued General Order No. 1 on April 19, 1917, officially organizing the Michigan State Troops Permanent Force according to Act 53.

On April 19, 2012, now known as the Michigan State Police, we celebrate our 95th anniversary.
Gov. Snyder has proclaimed April 2012 as Michigan State Police History Month.

On April 12, 1950, about 4 p.m. the East Lansing Post received a call from a lady stating her neighbor, Charles Iler, was “drunk and acting crazy.”

This lady reported Iler had come to her cabin stating that she had a call on his phone for her.

An erratic neighbor

She followed Iler next door and, when she got into the house, he bolted the door. There was no call waiting.

As she attempted to talk him out of his evil intentions, the phone did ring and the lady was able to escape. When her husband returned home, they called the police.

Trooper George Branny, 26, and Trooper John Plants were dispatched to take the complaint.

After interviewing the lady, the troopers went next door to interview Iler. Plants stood to the right of the door and Branny stood to the left of the door and knocked twice, calling for Iler.

When there was no answer, Branny leaned over to look in a window near the door. He was killed instantly by a shotgun blast fired through the window from inside the cabin. Plants, who took cover behind a dump truck parked nearby, shot twice at the window where the blast came from.

Plants ran from door to door until he was allowed entry to make a call for an ambulance and reinforcements. When he made it back to the patrol car, a teenager was calling for assistance on the patrol car radio. Plants covered the only door to the cabin with a shotgun until help arrived.

Tense standoff

A standoff took place with other troops and departments responding. About 5:30 p.m., the police began firing tear gas canisters into the cabin. After a cease fire was called, there was a single shot from inside the cabin.

After entering the bullet riddled cabin, Iler was found dead with a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Plants received the Bravery Award and rose through the ranks, retiring in 1974 with a rank of colonel.

Branny enlisted in the MSP on Aug. 19, 1947, after serving in U.S. Navy during World War II.

He is buried in Lansing and was the 16th MSP trooper to die in the line of duty.