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Topic: More Reznick, Oakley & waterloo nonsense
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

OAKLEY, MI (WNEM) -
The drama continues around one Mid-Michigan police department. Here's a look back at the village of Oakley's slew of problems and lawsuits.


The village of Oakley voted to temporarily disband its police force, but in the wake of that vote officers continue to patrol the streets and enforce laws.
More >

Village receives 100 reserve police officers

How would you feel if you knew that there were dozens of armed officers with badges in hand on patrol throughout Michigan?

These officers didn't necessarily graduate from the police academy. They got their badges simply by donating.

It's a scenario that played out in the Saginaw County community of Oakley with an impact reaching far beyond the small village's borders. It's one of six villages in Saginaw County, barely more than one square mile in size. Not even 300 people live there.

The village of Oakley had a reserve police force of at least 100 officers. That's at least one reserve officer for every three people.

It was one of the town's best kept secrets and so are the names of the reservists, who were given an officer identification.

They were also given an authorization on their concealed pistol license to carry a gun in gun free zones like schools and churches. If they wanted to pay an undisclosed amount of money, they received an official police badge.

TV5 attempted to get the names of Oakley's reservists through the Freedom of Information Act, but were denied stating it was an invasion of an individual's privacy.

Chief Reznick told TV5 they survive solely on donations from reservists and he said it's no different than someone donating to their university.

A judge has backed Chief Reznick's stance that he doesn't have to disclose his little black book of active reservists.

Chief Reznick said he is complying with all laws and regulations required for reserve officer programs.

Back in August, the Oakley Police Department were being investigated by the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards and the Michigan Attorney General's Office.

They checked for violations of state statutes regarding police department operations.

Village shuts down police department

Officials decided to shut down their police department until it got its liability insurance.

The Oakley Board of Trustees voted 5-1 on Sept. 9 to disband the force of about a dozen certified officers. The village has a population of 300 but about 100 reserve officers.

The Michigan Municipal League told Oakley it would lose its insurance coverage earlier this year. The insurance carrier cited lawsuits filed against the village and concerns about the police department as reasons for ending coverage July 1.

Controversy swirled around the police chief Rob Reznick. Some people questioned the way the chief has raised donations that were being used in the village's general fund.

Now, according to the village council, that money was donated by people who signed up to become what they call "reserve officers" for the police department.

Some of Reznick's critics, including members of the village council, expressed concern he was gaining too much power in the village because of the extra money his department provides.

The village secured municipal insurance on July 1, but it doesn't cover the police department.

Board of Trustees President Pro Tem Sue Dingo told another trustee during the meeting that she didn't know how much liability insurance would cost.

Police department continues to operate

Days after disbanding the police force, squad cars were back on the streets.

"If something happens, I at least know I tried," said Oakley Village Trustee Francis Koski.

Village trustees decided to shut down the police service until they got liability insurance. That's why Koski was shocked to hear the police department was up and running again days later.

"There was a policy paid and obtained today. The department is operating 100 percent covered with that policy," said Oakley officer Don Simpson.

Simpson is a part-time officer. He said Oakley Police Chief Rob Reznick was able to purchase insurance and put his department back in service. Koski doesn't think the chief had the right to do this.

"Mr. Reznick, in my eyes, has turned around and, as far as his employment, it's insubordination," Koski said.

Koski questions where the money for the policy came from. He said the $25,000 policy was paid for by reserve officer donations. Officer Simpson wouldn't go so far to confirm that.

"For the village of Oakley, there's a wonderful group of people who, for their own reasons, choose to support the village of Oakley," Simpson said.

The police department was accused of operating illegally.

The lawsuit comes after leaders in the village of Oakley voted to temporarily disband its police force, but in the wake of that vote officers continued to patrol the streets and enforce laws.

"This is the most dysfunctional town I have ever seen," attorney Phil Ellison said.

The small town of Oakley had nearly as many police officers as it did residents. Now it's supposed to have none.

"I am filing a lawsuit because the police department is operating illegally," Ellison said.

He filed the lawsuit in the Saginaw County district court because he said Oakley police officers are breaking the law.

"They do not have the authority to be policing that village," he said.

Village trustees voted to oust the police force after learning they were unable to obtain liability insurance.

According to Ellison, that is why the Oakley Police Department was no longer active.

The small town drama began months ago when it was discovered the police chief was handing out reserve police badges in exchange for donations to the village.

After being sued for not releasing the names of the reserve officers the village lost its insurance.

Chief Robert Resnick said he got his own insurance policy. But Ellison said trustees have no idea where Resnick got the money to pay for it. Also, the village did not vote to reinstate the police and that should make the move illegal in the eyes of the law.

Judge deactivates police department

A Saginaw County judge deactivated the entire village's police department because of the two lawsuits.

It's another development in a saga of alleged corruption and abuse of power by village officials.

The Oakley Police Department has been mired in controversy for months, stemming from accusations over the department's reserve police force.

In the past few months the department was shut down twice and was involved in a half dozen lawsuits involving the village. On Oct. 9 an attorney called for the arrest of the village police chief.

A judge shut down the police department that same day.

Back in July trustees voted to oust the police department after losing its insurance policy, but the board of trustee's President Pro Tem Sue Dingo reactivated the department on her own. That led to Francis Koski, another trustee, to file a lawsuit claiming Dingo was abusing her power.

Most of the lawsuits against the village have stemmed from the unusually larger reserve police force Chief Robert Resnick created.

According to testimony in October, Resnick reached out to reserve officers for donations to buy insurance. He secured a new policy and Dingo reactivated the force.

Resnick was subpoenaed to show up to court on Oct. 9, but he did not show up. That prompted attorney Phil Ellison to ask the judge to issue a bench warrant.

The judge decided not to issue a bench warrant and said Dingo should not have made the decision to reinstate the police without the other board members' approval.

Resnick said he disagrees with the judge's decision and said he will comply with the order.

Village trustee files complaint against stolen equipment

Now Koski has filed a complaint regarding unreturned police equipment.

Koski has requested assistance from various local, state and federal law enforcement agencies for unreturned police equipment that belongs to the Village of Oakley.

Koski has also sought a criminal investigation and charges against all of the inactive Oakley police officers and reserve officers, Attorney Philip Ellison said.

Koski said the officers failed to return all weapons, police-grade bulletproof jackets, police badges and other equipment belonging to the Village of Oakley.

In October the Saginaw County Circuit Court deactivated the Oakley Police Department and ordered all police officers and reserve officers to return their police equipment by Oct. 22. So far none of the officers have returned their equipment, Ellison said.

Koski's complaint directs that the items are stolen since they were not returned by the deadline. Criminal charges may be filed.
Post Thu Oct 23, 2014 8:30 pm 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

Trustee calls Oakley 'grocery store for badges' as wait for reservist names continues

Brad Devereaux | bdeverea@mlive.com

Brad Devereaux | bdeverea@mlive.com By Brad Devereaux | bdeverea@mlive.com
on October 22, 2014 at 11:25 AM, updated October 22, 2014 at 11:26 AM


OAKLEY, MI — For the second time in as many days, the village of Oakley held a special meeting that lasted less than five minutes, as only two voting members of the board came to the meeting hall.

The same thing happened the night before.

President Pro Tem Sue Dingo called the 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 21, meeting to order, asking the crowd to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance.

Dingo announced the purpose of the meeting, to authorize "a declaratory judgment on the FOIA appeal," which would ask a judge to weigh in on a decision the board made last week when it voted 4-2 to release the names of former police officers and reserve officers to The Saginaw News.

The vote came on Oct. 14, when a Saginaw News reporter made an appeal to the board to approve a request for the names of former reservists. The original FOIA request had been denied in a Sept. 24 letter signed by Clerk Cheryl Bolf with the reason stated as "no record exists."

Officials have since acknowledged that the names are documented, but only by Police Chief Robert Reznick.

Meantime, Dingo said she did not know if anyone complied with the village's request that reservists and officers return any village-owned equipment by Oct. 21. Bolf said she had no comment when asked if any equipment had been returned to the village.

With Oakley badges potentially anywhere in the country, Trustee Francis Koski said Oakley is serving as "the grocery store for enhanced gun permits and badges."

"That's just wrong," said Koski, reached by phone after the meeting.

'Anybody's guess'

The village of Oakley, population 290 in southwest Saginaw County, has had no local police protection since Sept. 9, when the board voted to suspend the department because it did not have liability insurance.

The village has drawn scrutiny because it has a reserve force of 100 people in addition to its part-time chief and about a dozen part-time officers. Reservist donations helped buy everyone in Oakley a Christmas ham last year, as well as propping of the village's general fund.

Village leaders have declined to share details about donations. The police department's $39,000 budget is entirely funded by donations, leaders have said.

About two minutes after opening the Tuesday meeting, Dingo said there was no quorum, and the meeting was adorned. The only other elected official to attend was Trustee Richard Shuster.

Trustees Dennis Bitterman, Koski, Norm Wolfe and John Lorencz were not there.

After the meeting, Dingo said she would like to see the issue handled by a new board, which will be elected in November and installed in December. What happens next is "anybody's guess," she said, adding that she plans to ask village attorney Richard Hamilton, who was not present, how to proceed.

Hamilton has not returned several messages left for him by The Saginaw News in the past several days. When asked last week, he said he did not know what the board voted to do Oct. 14.

Attorney Philip Ellison of Hemlock firm Outside Legal Counsel provided a copy of a letter written by his client, Koski, addressed to Dingo, that gives Koski's reasons for missing the meeting.

The letter calls the meeting "an attempt to delay" what the village has already voted on, to become "open and transparent."

"If we are going to be sued, as you suggest, I think we should (err) on the side of transparency and openness," Koski wrote.

Koski's letter states he will not be a part of any unscheduled meeting and states the village should release the names of the reservists.

"If reservists are going to enjoy the benefits of public service, their actions are open to public scrutiny just as we are as trustees for the village," the letter states.

Ellison, who attended the meeting Tuesday, said the latest special meeting was an attempt to avoid doing what the board voted to do and called it "more political two-stepping by a minority group of council."

"They have come up with a rather elaborate plan to avoid doing what the council has already voted to do," Ellison said, "and release the names of the reservists to The Saginaw News for the benefit of everyone, especially the residents of the village of Oakley."

Under state review

After the meeting in an interview with The Saginaw News, Koski said he believes some of the reservists are good people, and he is asking them to turn in their equipment now.

He talked about the desire to give some of them amnesty from future consequences if they were to come forward, but said he is not sure if the village has the authority to do so.

"If this opens into an investigation, either state or federal, why not come forward before any of that would start?" he said. "If I thought for one minute I did something illegal, improper, maybe now I see the walls closing in, if there was some way I could come forward and say it was not my intention to do wrong, I would.

"Give us back our equipment and badges, and we'll go from there," he said. "Let's say an investigation does start, it will probably be an authority doing it. Maybe the best thing would be to come forward before they have to come looking for you."

The Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards and the Michigan Attorney General's Office began an investigation of the village of Oakley in July, several months after a Saginaw News series revealed the village was being dropped from its insurance coverage through the Michigan Municipal League.

Reservists have the ability to apply for enhanced concealed pistol licenses, which would allow them to carry a firearm in public places such as stadiums, churches and schools. It is not known how many, if any, Oakley reservists applied for the licenses.

Koski added that he questions whether Reznick had the authority to promise reservists anonymity.


— Brad Devereaux is a public safety reporter for MLive/The Saginaw News. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and Google+
Post Sun Oct 26, 2014 5:31 pm 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

"Koski added that he questions whether Reznick had the authority to promise reservists anonymity. "

I can't imagine a small town of 290 residents having the liability issues for 100 reservists when they don't even know who they are!
Post Sun Oct 26, 2014 5:36 pm 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

Oakley has restarted their police force, but there is no word on the fate of the reservists.
Post Sun Dec 14, 2014 6:05 pm 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

Kid Rock an Oakley reservist?http://www.mlive.com/news/saginaw/index.ssf/2015/07/millionaires_kid_rock_and_a_de.html
Post Tue Jul 21, 2015 9:19 pm 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

Kid Rock's name is on an application for the Oakley Police Department reserve force among the 1,800-plus documents the village of Oakley revealed in May 2015. Also among the documents are firearms records, police dailies, letters and other documents.

Brad Devereaux | bdeverea@mlive.com

Brad Devereaux | bdeverea@mlive.com By Brad Devereaux | bdeverea@mlive.com
Follow on Twitter
on July 20, 2015 at 5:30 AM, updated July 20, 2015 at 2:11 PM

Small town, big problem
See the players in Oakley's drama over police reservists and lawsuits
Passports, police reports and Kid Rock in 1,834 pages of Oakley police documents
Oakley timeline: Police, reservist complaints started chain reaction
M-1 RAIL's Matthew Cullen donates to Oakley and gets a badge, then sends it back
Locate the applicants who have filed to be Oakley police reservists in Michigan




OAKLEY, MI — The documents read like a "who's who" of Detroit-area movers and shakers.


Katie Karnes | Mlive.com

There are company CEOs and presidents. There are physicians, attorneys and millionaires who make news in Michigan and beyond.

Mixed into the documents is a copy of rock star Kid Rock's passport and the driver's license of former Detroit Lion Jason Fox. Detroit casino developer Michael Malik Sr.'s information is there, too.

Related: Detroit executive sends back his badge

The paperwork is held in the files of the tiny village of Oakley, a one-traffic-light community of 300 in southwest Saginaw County. The documents are applications to join the village's reserve police force.

Membership to the force has its privileges.

Reserve officers have worked on patrol with certified officers, according to Oakley police incident reports. Some Oakley reservists have their own uniforms, village records show. Some reservists have received Oakley Police Department badges and ID cards that name them as officers, village records and reservists themselves acknowledge.

And under Michigan law, a police reservist can seek an enhanced concealed-pistol license to carry their weapon in areas such as schools and bars.

Oakley Police Chief Robert Reznick has said his department is doing nothing wrong in attracting high-profile out-of-towners to serve on the village's reserve force. He's fought to keep the identities of those reservists a secret.

A recent court order compelled disclosure, though, and the documents released by the village show the connection between Reznick's reserve force and dozens of well-heeled Metro Detroiters.

Some of those people have helped fill Oakley's coffers, records show, as tens of thousands in donations have rolled in to fund the police department and other municipal activities in the village.

Van Conway, CEO and president of the consulting firm Conway MacKenzie, is among those who applied to be part of the reserve force. His name is mentioned in news reports in connection with plans to resolve Detroit's bankruptcy and with lavish parties thrown by his firm.



Conway also donated to Oakley, records show. In December 2014, the village got a $1,000 check with his name printed on the check and his signature.

Conway could not be reached for comment. Jason Lewis, a spokesman for Conway, said Conway didn't have anything to say on the matter.

Conway is one of 145 people who submitted applications to become reserve police officers in a village, the newly released documents show.

Some personal information is blacked out. Many applications show the self-reported salaries and photocopies of driver's licenses or passports.

Here's a sampling of the reservist applications provided by the village of Oakley. They show the self-reported profession of the applicants at the time they applied:
•Casino developer Michael Malik Sr.
•Rock Ventures executive Matthew Cullen
•Dr. David Kent, owner of Lifestyle Lift, listing a salary of $10 million
•Adam Speck, a vice president at Quicken Loans
•Robert Ritchie, also known as rock star Kid Rock
•Former Detroit Lion and current NFL player Jason Fox
•Aldi Dasuqi, owner/president of marketing company AHDW Inc. in Pontiac, who lists a "$500k+" salary
•Luciano Delsignore, owner and operator of Southfield Italian restaurant Bacco Ristorante
•Dr. Al Depolo Jr., president of Tri County Urologists in Macomb
•Gordon Follmer, managing director at CPA firm UHV-US, listing a salary "over 500,000"
•John Frank, chairman/owner of Norman's Jewelry and Loan pawn shop in Southfield, listing a $500,000 salary
•Ray Jihad, president of Royal Oak gun shop Target Sports
•Alon Kaufman, Homedics CEO, listing a "$300k+" salary and service in the Israeli military from 1980 to 1983
•Please delete me! owner Marvin Yagoda, who also owns and operates Marvin's Marvelous Mechanical Museum in Farmington Hills

None of the 145 applicants to the reserve force live in Oakley or in surrounding Brady Township.

Cullen, in an interview with The Saginaw News, said he donated to Oakley but has never been there, never had gun training, never patrolled and never met Chief Reznick.

Kid Rock, reservist


Kid Rock Passport

A copy of Kid Rock's passport is attached to a reserve officer application among 1,834 documents about the Oakley Police Department reserve force.

One application comes from Robert James Ritchie, known worldwide as rock star Kid Rock.

The Romeo native is about to break a record for most consecutive sold-out shows performed at DTE Energy Music Theatre, with 10 set for the outdoor venue in Clarkston.


Kid Rock

Robert James Ritchie, AKA Kid Rock, attended school in Romeo, according to an application for the Oakley reserve police force with his name and stage name on it.

Ritchie attended school in Romeo, according to an application for the Oakley reserve police force with his name on it.

His application for the Oakley Police Department reserves lists his address as Clarkston and states he attended school in Romeo for three years, receiving a diploma in 1989.

A copy of his signed passport and now-expired Oakland County concealed pistol license and Michigan driver's license are attached.

There is no date or signature on the application. The only dates found on the documents with Ritchie's name are the expiration date on ID cards: June 2011 on his CPL and January 2012 on his driver's license.

Kid Rock hasn't said anything publicly about his link to Oakley, though then-village President Doug Shindorf told The Saginaw News in April 2014 that Kid Rock was a reservist.

Kid Rock is an avid hunter and gun enthusiast. The rocker recently tweeted a photo of himself shooting a .50-caliber rifle.

Nick Stern, Kid Rock's agent from 7-10 Music, answered a June 3 email from The Saginaw News asking for a comment from his client. He wrote, "What's the story?"

Stern did not reply to a second email seeking information about Kid Rock's connection to the police department in Oakley. Kid Rock could not be reached for comment.

Casino mogul, expert shooting skills

The name of Michael Malik Sr., a casino developer who helped bring gaming tables to Detroit, also appears on an Oakley police reservist application. His business is listed as "MJM Enterprises Development."

Malik was a partner in the entertainment group Detroit Entertainment and played a central part in the development of the casino project that is now called MotorCity Casino, according to Malik's biography on the Barstow Casino and Resort page.

"Presently we are working on casino development in New York, Michigan, California, and Antigua," Malik's application dated February 2009 to Oakley states. "Also own world famous whitetail hunting lodge and animal scent co."

"Excellent shooting skills" is listed on Malik's application, along with boating skills, people skills and political skills and contacts.

An October 2010 "weapons training record worksheet" shows "Mike Malik" scored 212 out of 230 possible points using a Springfield XD-40, qualifying in the "expert" group.

The News was unable to reach Malik Sr. for comment.

A firearms form with the name Michael Malik Jr. shows one "pass" score in July 2011.

Malik Jr. had no comment when The Saginaw News in April asked him about his involvement with the Oakley Police Department.

Several attorneys

One of the half-dozen attorneys who applied to be on the force is Steven Vitale of Troy, who told MLive at an October 2012 village of Oakley meeting regarding a complaint against the police department that he was Chief Reznick's attorney.


Vitale

A copy of an Oakley Police Department identification card for Steven Vitale is included in a box of documents the village of Oakley was court ordered to release in May 2015.

A copy of an identification card for Steven Vitale is included in a box of documents the village of Oakley was court ordered to release in May 2015.

Vitale also filed court papers on behalf of the village in late 2014 when Oakley was sued in Wayne County in a Freedom of Information Act case.

Herschel Fink is another attorney and one-time Oakley reservist. He sent a letter to Oakley's village council warning against the release of reservist information. The letter cited "emotional outbursts at past board meetings" from citizens and the terrorist group ISIS as reasons to withhold the information, saying that reservists could be targeted. The letter was made public in October 2014 after Oakley trustees received a copy of it. Fink testified during a March 4 Shiawassee County Circuit Court hearing that he sent the letter.

Fink testified in court he is a former reservist who hasn't been part of the Oakley reserves for at least two years.

The village did not release an application with Fink's name on it, but submitted his name in Shiawassee County court on a document it said was a list of some reserve officers.

The village released an application for Midland Attorney Scott McFarland. It lists Dr. Al DePolo Jr., a metro Detroit urologist who applied to be an Oakley reserve officer in October 2010, as a reference.

McFarland holds a bachelor's degree in criminal justice administration from Ferris University and graduated from the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law in Detroit, the application states.

The reserve application with McFarland's name is dated Nov. 13, 2012, and marked in handwritten script "approved" on Feb. 4, 2013, bearing the initials R.J.R.

McFarland said in May he had not had any involvement with the department in the past 18 months. He told The Saginaw News in May that he was interviewed by U.S. Department of Treasury agents, who had questions about the Oakley Police Department. He did not elaborate, citing the ongoing investigation.

"My involvement with the Oakley Police Department was nominal," he said. "I have done nothing with the department other than meeting Chief Reznick on a couple occasions."

The application for Thomas L. Stroble of Troy Law Firm The Stroble Law Firm has "last job title" listed as attorney.

The application lists Wayne County Prosecutor's Office under "other jobs" with "moved to private practice" listed as the reason for leaving. Stroble could not be reached for comment.

West Bloomfield attorney Guido Aidenbaum, who testified March 4 about the reserve program, is also listed on a reservist application.

He said he was a reservist in the past when asked at a March 4 hearing in Shiawassee County Circuit Court.

"I was," he said. "I believe the unit has been disbanded, so I'm not currently."

His son, attorney Max Aidenbaum, is listed on a reservist application as well.

A variety of skills

Other names on applications are less known, but many list notable particulars.

The applications describe a wide variety of backgrounds, from one for Milford web developer Russ Vergin, a professor at Macomb Community College dated April 2008, to a June 2011 application for Eye Spy Investigations President and "Licensed PI" Michael Peter Torrice listing "over 11 years with Lake Angelus PD. Many training courses and certificates."

An application Marc Galli of Crystal Lake, Illinois, lists an occupation of selling bulletproof vests, stating he is responsible for "all law enforcement agency sales" through Diamondback Tactical in nine states including Michigan.

Another application is for Scott Long of Columbus, Ohio, listing Vance Law Enforcement Sales as occupation. "Retail + L.E. sales" is listed under type of business.

Others list occupations of diamond appraisal, accounting and owning a gun store.

The most reservists, 21 of them, listed Bloomfield Hills as their place of residence, according to the applications. Others list cities of residence concentrated in metro Detroit and places throughout the Michigan and beyond.

The applications include experience of former servicemen in each of the five branches of the U.S. military - Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines and Navy.

Small town, big problem

Signs in the yards of Oakley residents have asked passing drivers questions about transparency and the reserve force, the chief and village leaders. Many of their questions remain unanswered.

Other citizens have voiced support for Oakley police, saying they are comfortable with the department and want it to continue as is.

Reservists are not regular police officers, but they can work alongside a certified officer in performing law enforcement duties.

Reznick, in previous interviews, characterized the force as a group of professionals who want to do something good for Oakley. While some have never been to Oakley, all are ready to respond in case of an emergency in the village, Reznick has said.

While many donate to the village or police department, a donation is not required, according to the chief.

The reserve force has generated controversy.

The Michigan Municipal League's issues with the Oakley Police Department's reserve force and the number of lawsuits filed against the village and officials led to the agency terminating Oakley's municipal insurance coverage in 2014.




Judge rules Oakley reservist documents public

Judge Matthew Stewart rules in May 2015 that documents about the Oakley Police Department be made public.

The village since purchased new insurance, triggering another lawsuit, and several other residents have sued the village seeking information about the police force and who donates to it. More than a dozen suits have been filed against the village and officials since 2012.

On May 22, Shiawassee County Judge Matthew Stewart ordered that reservist documents should become public, with exceptions for some personal information including personal addresses and phone numbers.

Dennis Bitterman, owner of the Oakley Family Tavern and village trustee, said he wonders if there are other reservist names or information that remain hidden. His wife, Shannon Bitterman, has filed some of the lawsuits in an effort to shed light on Oakley's reserve police force.

"It's a big money trail," Dennis Bitterman said. "I'd hate to see how far it went."

— Brad Devereaux is a public safety reporter for MLive/The Saginaw News. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and Google+
Post Tue Jul 21, 2015 9:29 pm 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

http://www.mlive.com/news/saginaw/index.ssf/2015/07/m-1_rails_matthew_cullen_donat.html

M-1 RAIL's Matthew Cullen donates to Oakley and gets a badge, then sends it back


Brad Devereaux | bdeverea@mlive.com By Brad Devereaux | bdeverea@mlive.com
Follow on Twitter
on July 20, 2015 at 12:00 PM, updated July 20, 2015 at 2:10 PM


OAKLEY, MI — Matthew Cullen is one of Detroit's biggest power brokers.

He's CEO of Detroit's downtown trolley project called M1-RAIL, a top executive at Rock Ventures and leads the holding company that oversees such companies as Quicken Loans and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Until recently, he also was a reserve police officer in the tiny village of Oakley, about 90 miles northwest of his offices at Rock Ventures in Livonia.

Cullen isn't the only wealthy Metro Detroiter who found his way to the Oakley Police Department. Newly released documents show he is one of 145 people, including business owners and CEOs, physicians and attorneys who applied to be a member of Oakley's reserve officer force.

Until now, their names have been kept secret. That rubbed some the wrong way in Oakley, and lawsuits ensued. The village also lost its insurance coverage through the Michigan Municipal League amid the legal challenges.

Cullen says his involvement in Oakley was superficial. He says a $1,000 donation to the village is the extent of his relationship with the village.

Told in February 2015 of the attention being drawn to the small Saginaw County village and its police department, Cullen said he found his Oakley reserve police badge and phoned Steve Stone, the man he knew from the organization.

"Look, man, give me the address to send this back to," Cullen said he told Stone.

Stone, listed as "Reserve Unit Commander Steven Stone" in one of the documents Oakley recently divulged, told The Saginaw News he apologized to Cullen for any problems his involvement with Oakley may have brought him. Stone declined to comment when asked about his own position with the Oakley Police Department.



Cullen said he has sent his badge back to the village.

He is one of several people distancing themselves from the Oakley Police Department after their names were revealed on applications for the reserve force.

Another is Scott McFarland, a Midland attorney and member of the Oakley Police Department reserve force, who said in May two U.S. Department of Treasury agents came to Midland and interviewed him with questions about the Oakley Police Department. McFarland said he's no longer active with the Oakley reserve force.

McFarland declined to comment on specific questions about the Oakley force or what the agents questioned him about, citing the federal investigation, but said he believes the agents were also interviewing other reservists.

Cullen said he got involved with Oakley through Stone and a friend, Tom Vigliotti, whose name also appears on an application for the Oakley Police Department reserve force. They had approached him about the police department in the small village. Cullen said he knew the men through SCUBA diving and didn't talk to anyone else connected to the village of Oakley.

"I don't know what groups or categories these guys fall into, but the guys I know were just some Grosse Pointe buddies that reached out to me, and I said sure, I would support it and get this sticker or badge or whatever, and that was it," Cullen said.

Cullen gave a donation by personal check of about $1,000, he said, and was given a charitable donation slip. He remembers making the check out to the village or police department and did not take any tax benefits from the donation.

Cullen told The Saginaw News and MLive during a May 29 interview that the donation describes the extent of his relationship with the reserve force.

Stone agrees, saying Cullen only donated and, though he was given a badge, he was not expected to respond to Oakley in case of an emergency.

Cullen said he doesn't recall filling out an application, which asks for salary, education, references and more. The application bearing his name lacks a signature and date, though it includes a copy of his driver's license with an April 2011 expiration.

Kiid Rock's name is on an application for the Oakley Police Department reserve force among the 1,800-plus documents the village of Oakley revealed in May 2015. Also among the documents are firearms records, police dailies, letters and other documents.

Brad Devereaux | bdeverea@mlive.com

The University of Michigan, University of Detroit and Harvard Executive Program in Detroit are listed under education. A $500,000 salary at "Rock Ventures" is listed with a description of the job:

"Lead the holding company that oversees various Dan Gilbert business activities. Quicken Loans, Rock Financial, Fathead, Cleveland Cavaliers, etc."


Cullen is also CEO of Detroit's M-1 RAIL Project, a streetcar on a 6.6-mile loop along Woodward Avenue, MLive has reported.

He said he never met Oakley Chief of Police Robert Reznick. The chief has asked The Saginaw News not to contact him for comment.

Cullen said he wasn't motivated to join the Oakley reserve force in an effort to gain access to an enhanced concealed pistol license. Cullen said he does not have a concealed pistol license, a requirement to apply for an enhanced CPL.

"It's all bull (expletive) in my case," he said.

Cullen said he knows little about the reservists in Oakley, although he does know several people who applied for membership to Oakley's reserve officer force.

"Tom Vigliotti and I are friends. I know Steve Stone through Vigliotti," he said. "I know Mike Malik, I know Kid Rock, I know Van Conway and I know Herschel Fink. I have no idea who the other people are or what their motivations were."

— Brad Devereaux is a public safety reporter for MLive/The Saginaw News. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and Google
Post Tue Jul 21, 2015 9:37 pm 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

Many Oakley reserve officer applicants appear on list of village donors




Brad Devereaux | bdeverea@mlive.com By Brad Devereaux | bdeverea@mlive.com
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on July 22, 2015 at 5:30 AM, updated July 22, 2015 at 11:08 AM


OAKLEY, MI – The village of Oakley has accepted tens of thousands of dollars in donations to help fund its police force and other municipal services, village records show.

Many of the benefactors are wealthy Michigan business owners who also applied for membership to Oakley's reserve police force, according to newly released village documents.

Timeline: See how Oakley documents were revealed

Until this spring, the identities of the small village's estimated 150 reservists and who's giving money have remained a secret. The secrecy rubs some Oakley-area residents the wrong way.

Yet many in Oakley, a community of 300 in southwest Saginaw County, support the department and the money it generates.

"No one's been able to show me anything that says it's illegal," said Village President Rich Fish.

A stack of newly released documents, totaling 1,834 pages, was released by the village in May to comply with a judge's order.

Most of the documents are applications for membership to the village's reserve police force. Many names on those applications also appear on a township drafted list of names of people it says gave money to the Oakley Police Department.

One of the new documents — a letter — shows an applicant discussing a donation to the village police fund.

"Upon receiving your approval and appointment to the reserve unit, I will forward a donation, payable to the village of Oakley, in the amount we previously discussed," states a letter that bears the signature of Midland attorney Scott McFarland.

The undated letter is attached to a November 2012 reserve force application, along with a resume, photo, list of references and copies of McFarland's CPL, driver's license and passport. Handwriting on McFarland's application says "approved 02-04-13 (Monday)," with the initials "R.J.R."

McFarland, a member of the Midland Public Schools Board of Education, declined to answer questions about Oakley but said he was not active after joining and is no longer a member of the reserve force.

More recent donations to the village came in February from "a reservist," Fish said. He sent a copies of two checks to The Saginaw News made out to "The City of Oakley." Each check, dated December 2014, was for $1,000 and each had the name "Van Conway" printed at the top. One memo line states "Van Conway" and the other states, "Matt Conway."

Van Conway's name is found on Oakley reservist application and was released by the village in February in response to a FOIA request seeking reservist names.

Van Conway is CEO and president of the consulting firm Conway MacKenzie. His name is mentioned in news reports in connection with plans to resolve Detroit's bankruptcy and with lavish parties thrown by his firm. A spokesman for Conway said he had no comment on the Oakley Police Department.

Ethical issue?

No state law prohibits reserve officers or those applying for such a job from donating to a municipal police department.

But there are ethical issues at stake, according to Frankenmuth Chief of Police Donald Mawer.

"There are a lot of ethical cliffs in this job as it is," Mawer said. "We don't want to mess with that."

Mawer operates a police force that includes about 25 reservists who live in Saginaw County or adjacent counties. Each has completed a training program of 200-plus hours in order to serve, the chief said.

Mawer, who started his career as a reservist himself in Hastings in 1989, said his agency does not take financial donations from reserve officers or any individuals.

"The Frankenmuth Police Department does not accept donations from individuals or any reserve officer," Mawer said. "The department has in the past accepted donations from community groups such as Rotary, Jaycees, Country Street Machines, and Frankenmuth Foundation."

Mawer said those donations are usually for specific projects that need funding, such as medical first-responder equipment and bullet-resistant vests for reservists.

Frankenmuth reservists represent the department, he said.

"We want to hire people based on their merit and skill set," Mawer said. "Whether they have money or don't is not a concern."

In Oakley, some wealthy Michigan residents have sought to join the reserve force, in part due to their ties with Oakley Police Chief Robert Reznick and his associates. Reznick has requested The Saginaw News not contact him for comment.

Reznick previously said many of the Oakley reservists donate money but are not required to do so. He said they do it out of goodwill. He has argued reservists and donors have the right to remain anonymous.

David LaMontaine is president of the Michigan Deputy Sheriff's Association. He said his group has long had issues with "unlicensed people doing police work."

Licensing as a law enforcement officer in Michigan must be approved through the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards (MCOLES), which happens when a candidate meets the two requirements:
1.Compliance with MCOLES minimum selection standards including satisfactory completion of a basic police academy or recognition of prior training and experience.
2.Employment with a law enforcement agency as a law enforcement officer.

Previously licensed police officers in Michigan, or from another state, can apply to be licensed through MCOLES.

LaMontaine is a Monroe County sheriff's deputy and noted he and other certified officers are required to meet training standards. For reservists, there is no uniform system of vetting, training or term to serve, he said.

He said there is an accountability issue when it comes to reservists acting as officers.

"You don't necessarily know where these people came from, you don't necessarily know why they're doing what they're doing," he said.

Philip L. Ellison is an attorney who has repeatedly sued the village on behalf of some Oakley-area residents seeking information about the police force.

He questions whether many of the Oakley reserve officers have helped the village or even visited there.

"The citizens of Oakley must now decide if their critical response team made up of high-net-worth executives from Detroit are really going to assist the residents of Oakley in a time of fire, flood, or emergency, or if the program is nothing more than a fundraising tool to raise secret funds," Ellison said.

McFarland told The Saginaw News in May that he had been interviewed by officials from the U.S. Treasury Department, who he said are questioning Oakley reservists.

Fish, the village president, said the FBI is looking into the village finances. The agency did not confirm or deny an investigation — standard procedure for the FBI.

No charges have been issued by any state or federal agency against the village or its police department.

Links to donations


ID card received check owed

Applications for the Oakley reserve force show notes about police ID cards and checks owed.

Applications for the Oakley reserve force show notes about police ID cards and checks owed.

The words "ID card issued" and "check owed" appear next to the initials "R.J.R." on the bottom of multiple reservist applications.

Village-released documents show that 66 people listed on reservist applications also gave money.


Kid Rock's name is on an application for the Oakley Police Department reserve force among the 1,800-plus documents the village of Oakley revealed in May 2015. Also among the documents are firearms records, police dailies, letters and other documents.

Brad Devereaux | bdeverea@mlive.com



Nicole Bruff is an Oakley-area resident and an outspoken critic of Oakley's police department at village meetings. Bruff says the fact that so many reservists also make donations worries her.

"It waters down the village's ability to see clearly," she said.

Documents show the village also received payments from 41 businesses. The Saginaw News found 19 of them that are owned by or employed people named on Oakley reservist applications.

Court cases mount

Lawsuits involving the village since 2012 number more than a dozen. Oakley was sued a total of four times with suits in Saginaw, Shiawassee and Wayne counties over the non-release of reservist documents. It also was sued to prevent the release of the documents and once for a complaint of police department harassment.

Ellison filed the original lawsuit seeking information about reservists in April 2013 on behalf of Oakley resident and bar owner Shannon Bitterman, after the village denied a FOIA request for information about reservists and donors. Bitterman is the wife of Oakley Trustee Dennis Bitterman.

Saginaw County Circuit Court Judge Robert Kaczmarek ruled on the Bitterman lawsuit in February 2014 that the village could keep the names of active reservists and donors to the police fund secret but had to disclose names of inactive reservists.

Ellison appealed the case, and the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled that donor names had to be disclosed, and asked for further information before ruling on the reservist names issue.

Shannon Bitterman's daughter, Brandi Bitterman, sued the village in Shiawassee County in late 2014, claiming the village failed to respond to a Freedom of Information Act request she sent seeking reservist information.

Because the village did not claim exemptions to the information Bitterman requested by FOIA, Shiawassee County Circuit Judge Matthew Stewart considered a motion by Ellison at a March 4 hearing and ordered the village to release all documents related to the reserve police force.

Shannon Bitterman's case was dismissed at the Court of Appeals in April 2015 after the village released reservist information.

Ellison filed the latest suit in May in Shiawassee County on behalf of Brandi Bitterman, alleging that the village did not send financial documents requested by FOIA by the due date. The village sent the documents, but the case is still in progress.

Read series: Small Town, Big Problem

Ellison said it is important for his clients to access information so they can determine how the village and department operates.

What lies ahead

Fish, the village president, said he believes donations, which Oakley relies on to fund its police department, will dry up moving forward because of the controversy. The future of the force is uncertain, he said.

He sided with the majority in May when the council voted 4 to 3 to bring back the reserve police program it had previously suspended.

"Our police chief has never done anything wrong, and he's a good guy, and he had a great thing going," said Trustee Sue Dingo after the June 10 meeting. "We were a very lucky little town to have him and to have him do what he did for us."

Dingo said she would not blame any reservists for leaving the village but that the village needs the reserve program and the financial support of donors.

"Some people just can't look at something good and take it for something good," she said. "They have to tear it apart and try to find something bad about it. And I really don't believe they ever will."

— Brad Devereaux is a public safety reporter for MLive/The Saginaw News. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and Google+



Holmes Lion


The town of Oakley is one square mile in size. Has less than 290 residents. There is no crime other than Mjive wasting time and space on a wild goose chase. The list of donors is quite diverse and they are not giving their hard earned money to Oakley to ride around and play cop. They give because they want a place to get away from it all if they so choose and not to mention a tax write off. Mlive seems to think something sinister goes on like these guys are the Illuminati of Hooterville. Mjive would have you believe they all ride around in a huge double decker humvee just waiting for someone to do a rolling stop at the only light in town. This story ranks right up there with whether or not squirrels prefer walnuts or acorns for lunch

Snookie


@Holmes Lion You are right that the donors had no intention of being reservists, yet they applied and were accepted anyway. Many might want to just 'get away', but it is doubtful that any to date have even visited Oakley, and have had no intention of doing so. Does Oakley have that five-star hotel that the wealthy ones are used to? If one wants to 'get away' that doesn't cause the huge donation. Just giving money to a small town is admirable, BUT when that 'donation' is used as payment and a badge and expanded CPL are given in return, the admiration is lost. You are also correct that Oakley has little use for that huge Humvee at their only stoplight. It is because of your admission of little crime there, that makes the huge nearly 150-member secret reserve police force not needed at all, yet the numbers are there, which in itself ranks as VERY sinister! Readers have various interests and are drawn to various articles. If you feel the articles regarding Oakley bear no merit, then just don't read them! With your defense in mind, I have the feeling you don't really have to read the articles anyway because you probably are one of the players in this unfolding saga. You might portray yourself as naïve with your post here, but I wonder how you will do with the FBI when they come to question you. For your own best interest, if you are connected to this situation, I would strongly suggest that you review which 'side' you are on, and the personal risk of being against the law.



Snookie

Is being connected to a police department the only way to get an enhanced CPL? I can see why some on this list would feel they might need to carry in areas where just the standard CPL is restricted. Lawyers can defend rather violent people with violent friends. When they fail to win a case, the friends get angry at them. Physicians can't always save their patients, and have been murdered because of that. Some hospitals in Detroit are rather dangerous places! CEOs have added risk due to upset employees. Look at the shootings in theaters, schools, and events such as the Boston Marathon. I can see why some feel the need for added protection. Most who have a CPL don't even talk about it Ever wonder how many nice pistols are in purses at the grocery store? I've questioned some of my female friends, and am amazed at how many carry for their own protection. Many are grandmothers who I would never expect to even touch a gun, yet have a CPL. There are many reasons for some to think they need added protection. Is this idea of buying the reservist position the only avenue for enhanced CPL? I'm not saying what they have done is right, but just wondering if they had other options.



Snookie
66 on the list 'gave' money. Was it the standard $1000? Did the rest just send their personal check to Reznick? I imagine the FBI can find that answer. The smart one was from Midland. He said he did not claim his 'donation' on his taxes. He protected himself in the event this scam would fall apart BUT his letter saying he would pay when he was accepted sort of blew his innocent cover. Legal or not, the council should have stopped this before it started. They accepted money in exchange for additional use of fire arms and badges. It is the council who employs Reznick, and he has placed them in a horrible position. That 'nice guy' has placed the village at risk, and especially those responsible for the decisions (the council). Selling badges certainly can not be within the law. The residents can thank the Bittermans for bringing the attention of all to what some crooked council members are condoning. If some don't have the morals or courage to get rid of your 'bad apple' then I would suggest you recall them and vote for others with some ethics. Do you really want to do business with someone who thinks it is OK to sell enhanced CPL permits and badges? If some of your council members are either that naïve or afraid to do the right thing, they need to be replaced. If you feel they have backed this scam and hid it from the residents because you would disapprove, then they need to be run out of your town along with Reznick.


Bobs

A play by Shakespeare comes to mind: Much ado abou nothing!
LEORAC

@ Bobs,

Much ado about nothing you say? Now that is funny stuff right there!! Oh, I'm sure everything is on the level considering the village spent two years fighting to maintain secrecy of a legitimate reserve team costing them lawsuits, thousands of dollars in court costs and their good standing with their insurance provider. You are hilarious! And of course it makes perfect sense to run a police department that the village cannot afford and depends completely on donations from secret reserves so to operate. Yep, just a bunch of nothing.


Snookie

@LEORAC Awwww, come on! They got their holiday hams didn't they? What a 'feel good' moment for them. Apparently just toss a person a ham, and their brain freezes.


zeliasgrand

A big thumbs up to Chief Mawer in Frankenmuth. He understands the implications of granting reserve badges to people who are untrained and uncontrolled (because they cannot be supervised by the police department). And a big "WTF?" to Dingo and Fish. Your town is licensing a whole BUNCH of people to carry a weapon and therefore to do all sorts of things beyond the village's control. You've already had a significant number of lawsuits filed against you, and allowing Reznick to do this simply increases the village's liability. Reznick is using his authority to trade these reserve badges for money. I'm sure you like the money but do you really want the village to be prostituting itself for these donations? Because that is what is happening. And every one who voted for this policy is pimping out Oakley. Don't pat yourselves on the back for that.


Brad Devereaux | bdeverea@mlive.com

@zeliasgrand We will post (today or tomorrow) a look at some of the other reserve units in Saginaw County. Thanks for commenting.

RetiredEngineer

I wonder how many of the Oakley reservists are aware that their donations made it possible for them to now carry their pistols using their CPL permits into bars, hospitals, schools, etc.


Sandybememe

@RetiredEngineer They knew, that is why they made the "donations" in the first place so that they can a certificate as a reserve police officer and get away with carrying a gun where ever they like.



Gadfly48638

How many paid their gifts in cash?


Snookie

@Gadfly48638 If so, WHOSE pockets got the cash?



Speedy Gonzales

If Resnick hadn't been such an a h probably none of the this would have come out, but he just had to have his little kingdom and harass a few people. Legal or not his practices have been questionable at best.


gadfly48638

@Speedy Gonzales Yes he got the Donald Trump syndrome!


thegreenarcher

Keep digging Brad...only a free press can bring out the facts regarding the events in Oakley.


Gadfly48638

@thegreenarcher Guess that Judge Kaz let Reznick off on professional courtesy.


spyralout

"No one's been able to show me anything that says it's illegal," said Village President Rich Fish.

What a scumbag.



spyralout "scumbag," I'd say more like not very bright and naive.

The reservists could very well use their "police" credentials to bully or influence others in their personal and work-related situations. Why else would they pay $$$ to Reznick.

spyralout

@kidder4 @spyralout As far as I can tell, it's probably only about the ability to conceal carry wherever you want. That and maybe bragging rights. There could be some who're trying to use it for more sinister purposes, but I'm guessing the wealthy donors just want another feather in their social-captial hat to talk about at the country club. In other words, "because they can".

Snookie

@spyralout @kidder4 SURE they talked about it in their social circles. That is how so many were 'recruited'.

pogo_possum

@spyralout @kidder4 What about the not so wealthy donors? One of them owns a towing, wrecker, company. A police badge and an enhanced CPL would make it easier plus safer to repossess vehicles.



Snookie

@pogo_possum @spyralout @kidder4 Makes one wonder if that listed towing company was the SAME one that brought that surplus truck the village didn't know they had? Was that a 'freebie'? Did the same towing company work for Reznick's collection agency on the side? If so, were they paid the standard fee? Barter isn't illegal, but when it involves gun permits, it gets into a very grey area of legality. LOTS of things for the FBI to investigate, and you can BET they are reading this. If WE can connect so many dots, they can connect even more.
Post Thu Jul 23, 2015 7:12 am 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

What I find shocking is no one ha mentioned the similarity of Oakley to the downfall of Former Genesee County Sheriff Joe Wilson. Courtesy Sheriff Badges were issued during fund raisers and in some instances kept the badge holders out of legal trouble. Joe Wilson was forced to resign after an FBI investigation.

Reznick also has a courtesy badge from Pickell in order to facilitate his business of recovering bad debts. Pickell withdrew the badge when he found out Reznick was misusing it and using it in other counties. Reznick has such badges from other counties.

Where is the FBI in investigating these "Badges for sale". Who got the money?
Post Thu Jul 23, 2015 7:43 am 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

The Oakley Police Department Chief Rob Reznick joined patrols Friday, Sept. 12, during the Oakley Bike Run. Some trustees say cops should not operate without council approval.

Brad Devereaux | bdeverea@mlive.com By Brad Devereaux | bdeverea@mlive.com

on October 06, 2016 at 7:00 AM, updated October 06, 2016 at 1:34 PM

Move over police chiefs and local governments, for a new law that puts the state of Michigan in charge of reserve police officers.

Senate Bill 92, presented to the Governor in September and signed Oct. 4, gives the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards (MCOLES) board the authority to create "Minimum standards and procedures for reserve officers."

The new law will go into effect in January, Director David Harvey said.

It could prevent reserve police forces like the one in Oakley, where a village of less than 300 people had a reserve force of about 150.

The village kept the identities of its reserve force secret and would not surrender them to citizens or in response to an MCOLES subpoena until after multiple lawsuits forced the release of reservist documents, including applications bearing the names of wealthy businessmen and Kid Rock.

Millionaires, Kid Rock and a Detroit Lion found in Oakley police reserve applications

Millionaires, Kid Rock and a Detroit Lion found in Oakley police reserve applications

The paperwork is held in the files of the tiny village of Oakley, a one-traffic-light community of 300 in southwest Saginaw County. The documents are applications to join the village's reserve police force.

Once-secret donors, some also found on the list of reservists that the village eventually released, helped Oakley pay the bills.

MCOLES currently doesn't know every department in Michigan that has a reserve force, and isn't required to know the identities of reservists, Harvey said.

"Absolutely, it will help with situations like Oakley and prevent those things from happening in the future," Harvey said, and MCOLES would know who is working as a reserve officer. "Right now, we don't know how many reservists are out there."

With several new MCOLES commissioners, Harvey said they will be educated about setting up standards and look at reserve officer activities at various departments to determine how to create the standards and procedures.

They could include physical standards, hiring standards and training standards, Harvey said.

"The citizen should know the person in the uniform, a reservist or an officer, at least met some kind of minimum training," Harvey said. Another concern is that people out working as reservists could be in harm's way because they lack proper training.

"We can't continue to put people out there in uniform without training," Harvey said.
schuitmaker.jpegState Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker


Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker, R-Antwerp Township, sponsor of the bill, said some reserve forces are outstanding, "but in some cases around the state, we have seen questionable uses of these officers."

She said one community gave "vast" law enforcement powers to untrained individuals, and another hired a large number of reserve officers in a small community.

It will ensure reserve police officers will be held to a high standard across the state, she said.

Michigan has seen a few cases of reserve police forces attracting complaints in recent years.

The controversial reserve police force continues to operate in Oakley.


After a legal battle spanning years and multiple Michigan counties, the village released reserve police officer applications bearing the names of Kid Rock, Michael Malik Sr., and other rich and famous Michiganders.

Kid Rock still hasn't said anything publicly about his link to Oakley and his agent has not responded to multiple questions. Former village President Doug Shindorf told The Saginaw News in April 2014 that Kid Rock was a reservist.

The village of Oakley has given an attorney 145 names it says are of people who applied to be police reservists with the village.

While working as Oakley's police chief, Robert Reznick also got a job in Jackson County's Waterloo Township, where he began to create a reserve force and raised about $100,000 through donations. Residents there later voted down a police protection millage, and the township board voted in February 2015 to shutter the police department.


After a couple of months of seemingly operating in limbo, Waterloo Township's board voted to suspend its police department as of Feb. 1.

In August 2014 in southwest Michigan, Barry Township Police Chief Victor Pierce resigned after several months of public scrutiny over his 34-member reserve force in the community of about 3,300 people, and allegations of police harassment.

Barry Township police chief Victor Pierce announced his resignation in a letter read by his legal representation after his personnel review before the board Thursday evening.

The MSP investigated and found no criminal wrongdoing, but troopers made several recommendations on changes in July 2014 before the chief's resignation.

Other police chiefs and sheriffs have their own set of standards, and some say they strive to be transparent about who is on the force.


Reserve officers are used to fill a variety of roles at the Saginaw County Sheriff's Department and police departments in Chesaning, Frankenmuth and Saginaw.

"I think for the agencies that do a good job of vetting people before they become a reserve officer and do training, it's not going to affect them very much at all," Harvey said. "But we'll have a standard for them to compare themselves to."

The package of bills also provides training for certified police officers "throughout their career," Schuitmaker said. It was part of a 17-bill package that requires MCOLES to produce a public report addressing the topic of fostering public trust in law enforcement.

The bills require licenses instead of certificates for law enforcement officers, has the commission establish rules governing law enforcement officer licensing standards, authorizes the commission to investigate violations of the rules or law and requires officers to inform MCOLES when charged with a particular offense.
Post Sun Oct 09, 2016 2:09 pm 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

Oakley lawsuit tied to police reserves settled

By Terry Camp | Posted: Wed 5:06 PM, Jul 05, 2017 | Updated: Wed 6:31 PM, Jul 05, 2017

OAKLEY (WJRT) - (07/05/17) - A settlement has been reached in a case that played a big part in exposing a small town's police reserve unit.


You might remember how the town of Oakley, with just 300 people, grabbed headlines and lawsuits over its 150 member police reserve unit.

The family that started the legal action to expose that reserve unit has received money - and a lot of it - but they don’t feel like they won.

Dennis and Shannon Bitterman sued the village of Oakley and its police chief in 2014, claiming they and their business were being retaliated against for speaking out - speaking out about how one of its waitresses at the bar they own claimed police chief Rob Reznick was harassing her and because the couple wanted to know the identities of Reznick's police reserve unit.

The lawsuit has been settled for $100,000.

“I don't think it's justice,” Dennis said.

Dennis gets emotional when talking about the last four years.

“It's ruined our business, my daughter doesn't want to do the business no more, we are selling it,” he said.


“This has divided our community and that is the worst price we've paid,” Shannon said.

The Bittermans and others wanted to know who the police reservists were, and when the list was released in 2014, many were surprised most were from the Detroit area, even a former Detroit Lion. Reznick remains the police chief of Oakley, making about $500 a month.

“He no longer comes to our meetings or attends the village functions, he's like a ghost here in Oakley,” Shannon said.

Village president Rich Fish did not want to talk about the settlement on camera, but did confirm that Reznick remains police chief and that he says there are four or five reserve officers.

Shannon says the settlement shows the legal action was justified, but she is still concerned.

“We made some gains, but we are still basically at square one, Chief Reznick is still chief of police and we still have this anonymous, for the most part, reserve team,” she said.

We could not reach Reznick for comment.
Post Sat Oct 07, 2017 10:23 am 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

FLINT NEWS
Feds raid house owned by Oakley police chief

Updated on October 6, 2017 at 7:44 AM Posted on October 5, 2017 at 4:08 PM

Gallery: ATF officers raid home owned by Oakley Police Chief Robert Reznick

By Dominic Adams dadams5@mlive.com
GAINES TWP, MI - Federal agents raided a home owned by the Oakley police chief, who was accused of allowing the rich and famous to join his police ranks.

A home at 5184 Oakhill Drive, which county tax records show is owned by Robert and Carolyn Reznick, was raided Thursday, Oct. 5, by agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

There were around a dozen agents seen before 1 p.m. taking cardboard boxes, firearms and documents from the home and loading them into vehicles.

Ronnie Dahl, spokeswoman with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, confirmed agents were conducting a law enforcement operation at a home on Oakhill, but declined to release further details.

"Because it's an ongoing investigation we cannot comment at this time," Dahl said.

Neighbors Pam and Mark Ziebold said Reznick lives at the Oakhill home, which they have lived across the street from for about a year.

"They seem nice," Pam Ziebold said. "I have never heard anything bad. He's wonderful. He does fireworks. He's just been the coolest. Maybe somebody's out to get him."

MLive could not reach Reznick for comment on Thursday, Oct. 5.

Reznick's leadership of the department came under scrutiny after it was revealed wealthy individuals and celebrities were able to join his police force as reserve officers.


Oakley is a village of less than 300 people and had a reserve police force of about 150.

The village kept the identities of its reserve force secret and would not surrender them to citizens or in response to an MCOLES subpoena until after multiple lawsuits forced the release of reservist documents, including applications bearing the names of wealthy businessmen and celebrities such as Kid Rock.

Some of those found on the list of reservists helped Oakley pay the bills by making donations to the department.

Oakley tavern owners sue village and officials, alleging harassment and retaliation

Special deputy membership to the force has its privileges.

Reserve officers have worked on patrol with certified officers, according to Oakley police incident reports. Some Oakley reservists have their own uniforms, village records show. Some reservists have received Oakley Police Department badges and ID cards that name them as officers, village records and reservists themselves have acknowledged.

And under Michigan law, a police reservist can seek an enhanced concealed-pistol license to carry their weapon in areas such as schools and bars.

Reznick previously said his department is doing nothing wrong in attracting high-profile out-of-towners to serve on the village's reserve force. He's fought to keep the identities of those reservists a secret
A court order compelled disclosure, though, and the documents released by the village show the connection between Reznick's reserve force and dozens of well-heeled Metro Detroiters.

Some of those people have helped fill Oakley's coffers, records show, as tens of thousands in donations have rolled in to fund the police department and other municipal activities in the village.

A state law was passed last year to give state oversight over minimum standards for reserve police forces.

Millionaires, Kid Rock and a Detroit Lion found in Oakley police reserve applications

-MLive Reporter Michael Kranz and Staff Photojournalist Terray Sylvester contributed to this report.
Post Sat Oct 07, 2017 10:37 am 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

Oakley divided after feds raid police chief's home

Updated on October 6, 2017 at 3:02 PM Posted on October 6, 2017 at 3:01 PM

By Dominic Adams dadams5@mlive.com
OAKLEY, MI - Patrick Coe sat on a swing nestled in front of his house along Oakley's Main Street on the morning of Friday, Oct. 6.There were smashed Buckeyes that had fallen from the tree he was sitting under, his loyal dog curled up on the swing next to him.

Coe said he's lived in Oakley "forever" and said he wasn't surprised when he learned that the Gaines Township home of Oakley Police Chief Robert Reznick had been raided on Thursday by agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

There were around a dozen agents seen before 1 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 5 taking cardboard boxes, firearms and documents from the home and loaded them into vehicles.

Reznick has been a polarizing force in the small Saginaw County village. He remained polarizing after this week's raid, with some voicing their support while others questioned his leadership of the police department.

"If you're a crook and you keep it up long enough, you get caught," Coe said about Reznick. "He's never here. I would just like to see him gone. I think he's as dishonest as the day is long."

ATF officials confirmed the raid as part of a law enforcement action but declined to comment further citing an ongoing investigation. Reznick has not been charged with any crimes and could not be reached for comment. He did not answer calls to his cellphone nor to the police station and he didn't answer his door when visited by MLive-The Flint Journal.


Reznick has been the chief in the village of around 300 people since 2007 or 2008, according to Village President Richard Fish.

However, his leadership of the department came under scrutiny after it was revealed wealthy individuals and celebrities were able to join his police force as reserve officers.

Numerous people throughout the village didn't want to discuss the police chief on Friday.

A man and a woman walking along the village's side streets didn't want to give their names to MLive-The Flint Journal but said they've lived in Oakley for 46 years.

"I think most of the people in this town like Mr. Reznick," the woman said. "I was surprised. It's innocent until proven guilty."

"Well, they have their rights," the man added.

Two other people at a home nearby also didn't want to discuss the issue.

On Thursday, the ATF was seen at a home at 5184 Oakhill Drive in Gaines Township, which county tax records show is owned by Robert and Carolyn Reznick.

There were around a dozen agents seen before 1 p.m. taking cardboard boxes, firearms and documents from the home and loading them into vehicles.

Fish said he'd heard that Reznick's home was searched, but didn't know any specifics.

"I really have no comment," Fish said. "The man hasn't been charged with a crime, so I don't want to rush to judgment."

The village trustees are set to host their monthly meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 10, and Fish said the contract for Reznick and other members of the police department was already scheduled to be discussed.

Oakley, despite being a village of fewer than 300 people, had a reserve police force of about 150.

The village kept the identities of its reserve force secret and would not surrender them to citizens or in response to an MCOLES subpoena until after multiple lawsuits forced the release of reservist documents, including applications bearing the names of wealthy businessmen and celebrities such as Kid Rock.

Some of those found on the list of reservists helped Oakley pay the bills by making donations to the department.

Oakley tavern owners sue village and officials, alleging harassment and retaliation

"I thought it was excellent news when we heard that the ATF was at his house," said Shannon Bitterman. "Oakley has been through a lot the past six years and to have an authority step in is nice."

Bitterman and her husband Dennis settled a civil lawsuit for $100,000 against the village this summer after alleging they were retaliated against for speaking out against the police force.

"The village of Oakley has no budget for police," Dennis Bitterman said. "It's a gun-running, money-laundering scheme. We're labeled as cop haters and we're not. It's about a big bully."


Special deputy membership to the force has its privileges.

Reserve officers have worked on patrol with certified officers, according to Oakley police incident reports. Some Oakley reservists have their own uniforms, village records show. Some reservists have received Oakley Police Department badges and ID cards that name them as officers, village records and reservists themselves have acknowledged.

And under Michigan law, a police reservist can seek an enhanced concealed-pistol license to carry their weapon in areas such as schools and bars.

Reznick previously said his department is doing nothing wrong in attracting high-profile out-of-towners to serve on the village's reserve force. He's fought to keep the identities of those reservists a secret.

A court order compelled disclosure, though, and the documents released by the village show the connection between Reznick's reserve force and dozens of well-heeled Metro Detroiters.

Some of those people have helped fill Oakley's coffers, records show, as tens of thousands in donations have rolled in to fund the police department and other municipal activities in the village.
Post Sat Oct 07, 2017 10:47 am 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

Shining Light on Oakley Police Dept - Home | Facebook
https://www.facebook.com/OakleyPoliceAccountability/
Shining a light on Chief Robert Reznick because he is just too shady! ... Of State politics, why lil' ole Oakley Michigan made it to Time Magazine back in 2015. .... ask at this point is, WHY IS ROB REZNICK STILL OAKLEY'S CHIEF OF POLICE?
Post Sat Oct 07, 2017 10:50 am 
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