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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

Village battle over Oakley Police Department resumes


Francis X. Donnelly, The Detroit News 10:33 a.m. EDT September 28, 2014


Oakley— One day, the village police were uninsured. The next, they were covered. Another day, the police were disbanded. The next, they had returned to work.

Each day seems to bring a new development in this small central Michigan community with a big police department.

Earlier this month the police, already accused of having too much political power, resumed operations without a council vote after volunteer officers paid $25,000 for department insurance.

With the Oakley Board of Trustees deadlocked 3-3 on most issues, critics compared the police to a military junta that takes over a banana republic.

"They're out of control," said Trustee Fuzz Koski. "They seem to think they don't need to have any council approval."

By returning to work without council approval, the police are operating illegally, said Koski. By enforcing the law, they are breaking it.


Village fight over Oakley Police
“They’re out of control,” said Trustee Fuzz Koski, center, said of the Oakley Police Department. “They seem to think they don’t need to have any council approval.”(Photo: Dale G. Young, The Detroit News)


But Police Chief Rob Reznick said the trustees, in voting to disband the police, ruled the action would last until the department received insurance.

"You like to believe I'm running rampant, doing everything on my own. That's not the case," he told a reporter.

Reznick said Sue Dingo, the board president pro tem, had approved the police's return.

He refused to answer any other questions, abruptly ending a phone call by hanging up.

Dingo didn't return several phone calls.

The community has 300 residents and 100 auxiliary police officers.


Village fight over Oakley Police
But Police Chief Rob Reznick says Sue Dingo, the board president pro tem, had approved the police’s return.(Photo: Dale G. Young, The Detroit News)


The volunteer reserves are well-heeled out-of-towners who donate so much money that they cover the $38,000 police budget and some other government expenses.

In return, their status as auxiliary officers allows them to bring their guns into no-weapon zones such as bars and ballparks, even while off-duty.

The latest controversy with the police began in July when the Michigan Municipal League canceled the village's insurance.

The organization said it was concerned by the high number of reserves and numerous lawsuits filed against the village by a village trustee feuding with Reznick.

On July 1, the same day the insurance expired, Dingo announced village clerk Cheryl Bolf had found new coverage to replace it.

During a trustee meeting in August, Bolf said she didn't realize the new insurance didn't cover police.

On Sept. 9, the trustees voted 5-1 to disband the police because of the lack of insurance.

The vote was remarkable because, following the death of Supervisor Doug Shindorf, most tallies ended in a 3-3 deadlock.

Three days later, however, the police were back on the street.

Koski said he was told by Dingo that the reserves had purchased $500,000 worth of coverage for one year.

But Koski said the council needed to approve the resumption of police duties.

He filed a lawsuit in Saginaw Circuit Court to stop the return. A week earlier, he had filed a lawsuit against the legality of the insurance adopted in July.

In both cases, Koski argues, Dingo overstepped her authority by making the moves without council support.

The two cases are scheduled to be heard Oct. 7.

"I'm just at the point where I'd like the judge to make a decision: Does she run the town by herself?" said Koski. "Should the rest of the council just go home?"

FDonnelly@detroitnews.com

(313) 223-4186


Last edited by untanglingwebs on Thu Oct 16, 2014 7:19 pm; edited 1 time in total
Post Sun Sep 28, 2014 2:43 pm 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

With the Oakley Board of Trustees deadlocked 3-3 on most issues, critics compared the police to a military junta that takes over a banana republic.

"They're out of control," said Trustee Fuzz Koski. "They seem to think they don't need to have any council approval."

By returning to work without council approval, the police are operating illegally, said Koski. By enforcing the law, they are breaking it

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Even the Associated press picked up this story today about whether the village abolished the police or not on September 9th.

The village had been turned down for insurance multiple times because of the number of lawsuits filed over the police. The even got a warning fro the Michigan Municipal League. However Oakley Police chief disputes these facts.

The Village of Oakley has only 290-300 residents. While the town has 12 certified police officers, it has a secret force of 100 reserve officers-three officers per resident. And most, if not all, of the reserve officers do not reside n the community but come from all over the state. Their reserve status gives then the authority to carry their weapons in places where the average citizens would not be allowed to.

Rob Reznick is also the Chief of Waterloo Township. No idea how many reserve officers they have. Both communities have some officials reluctant to ire the chief because he brings in so much money from his "reserves". I have always known that donations had to be accepted in public through approval at open council meetings. Reznick says these donations come from people who know him and are his friends.
Post Sun Sep 28, 2014 2:57 pm 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

Hearings on Oakley Police Department, village leadership delayed and transferred to new judge


Jeff Schrier | Mlive.com Attorney Philip Ellison, right, representing Francis Koski, a village of Oakley trustee, makes an argument during a court hearing in front of Saginaw County Chief Circuit Judge Fred L. Borchard, Sept. 8, 2014. Oakley village attorney Richard Hamilton listens at left. Koski filed a petition in court asking the judge to restore decision-making power to the current six-member board, alleging President Pro Tem Susan M. Dingo is making decisions that the board should be making.

Jeff Schrier


Brad Devereaux | bdeverea@mlive.com By Brad Devereaux | bdeverea@mlive.com
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on September 26, 2014 at 9:30 AM, updated September 26, 2014 at 9:35 AM


SAGINAW, MI — A different judge will hear arguments in two separate lawsuits questioning police operations and leadership in the Saginaw County village of Oakley, according to an attorney in the case.

Judge Fred L. Borchard was scheduled to hear arguments Sept. 30 in two separate motions filed by Hemlock Attorney Philip Ellison on behalf of Oakley Trustee Francis Koski.

Now, Circuit Court Judge Robert L. Kaczmarek is set to hear both motions at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 7.

One motion, filed on Sept. 15, seeks a restraining order directing Oakley, the village attorney and village president pro tem to cease police department operations.

The lawsuit claims the Village Council should have approved the purchase of new insurance and needed to vote on the issue before the police returned to the streets on Sept. 12.

The earlier lawsuit, filed by Ellison on behalf of Koski on Sept. 5, alleges that President Pro Tem Sue Dingo went outside the scope of her authority when deciding things the board should decide, including the approval of a new liability insurance.


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


Kaczmarek is not a stranger to Oakley lawsuits, being assigned to multiple suits filed against the village and its officials that that are still pending in court.

Kaczmarek also presided over a lawsuit regarding a Freedom of Information Act request seeking the names of Oakley Police Department reserve officers, ruling that the village must hand over the names of any inactive reservists but can keep the names of active reserve officers secret.

The FOIA case will be heard by the Michigan Court of Appeals in Lansing on Oct. 15, Ellison said.

The Saginaw News published a series of articles beginning in March called, "Small Town, Big Problem." The series details the controversy in the village of about 300 people in southwest Saginaw County that lost its insurance because of the number of lawsuits against the village and its officials and because of concerns over the Oakley Police Department that includes about 100 reserve officers, according to the village's former insurer, the Michigan Municipal League.

After The Saginaw News reported that the village's new insurance policy secured July 1 does not include liability insurance for the police department, the village voted to shut down the police department in a five-to-one vote Sept. 9.

The Oakley Police Department returned to action Friday, Sept. 12. Chief of Police Rob Reznick and a few other village officials said they secured a new liability insurance policy to cover the department.
— Brad Devereaux is a public safety reporter for MLive/The Saginaw News. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and Google+
Post Sun Sep 28, 2014 3:04 pm 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

Meemer
1 day ago
Something smells rotten in Oakley and Waterloo, and now seems to be spreading to Saginaw. Why would a Judge rule against the public knowing the identity of the reservists ? Why would the "reservists" be so ready to apply for this status if they don't even live in the area ? Who is issuing the concealed weapon permits ? Are background checks being made on the applicants ? Who is swearing in the "reservists" ? To whom are the "donations" being made ? Are the donations cash or checks ? If the Attorney General of Michigan isn't interested in this scenario, maybe the Feds will be. Any Army of "secret police" cannot be tolerated. Shame on you Judge, I thought we were living in a democracy !


markinsaginaw
2 days ago

It is getting time to bring in a judge from outside of saginaw county to clean up the mess in Oakley .

BruceWayne

2 days ago

Kaczmarak, has already shown bias, and will certainly be overruled , by the court of appeals, on his whacky FOIA ruling, so this is starting to look like, the cops, and courts, have something deeper to hide, than Reznicks culture, of corruption ? Why did Borchard recuse himself ? He is required to complete a form, with reasons for recusal, and submit to SCAO, so what was reason ? This info is what I rely on news, to provide, and is readily available, and should be part of the public record.


ubiquitoususer
2 days ago
Why isn't Borchard hearing the case? Article doesn't say.

Reading1234
2 days ago

@ubiquitoususer That's what I want to know as well.
Post Sun Sep 28, 2014 3:09 pm 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

I am in complete agreement with Meemer.

I had forgotten about the Sheriff Joe Wilson scandal and the special badges until I came across an article in my files. That action resulted in scandal and forced Wilson to resign. I remember reading the transcripts of the Makoha bribery case. Hampton related meeting with Makoha and a representative of Wilson's "special deputy " campaign to discuss how to skim money from Stanley if they came up with a scheme.

Who is reporting the receipts from the reserve police and others. The IRS should be involved here. Are some trustees receiving kickbacks?
Post Sun Sep 28, 2014 3:22 pm 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

Village battle over Oakley Police Department resumes


Francis X. Donnelly, The Detroit News 10:33 a.m. EDT September 28, 2014


Oakley— One day, the village police were uninsured. The next, they were covered. Another day, the police were disbanded. The next, they had returned to work.

Each day seems to bring a new development in this small central Michigan community with a big police department.

Earlier this month the police, already accused of having too much political power, resumed operations without a council vote after volunteer officers paid $25,000 for department insurance.

With the Oakley Board of Trustees deadlocked 3-3 on most issues, critics compared the police to a military junta that takes over a banana republic.

"They're out of control," said Trustee Fuzz Koski. "They seem to think they don't need to have any council approval."

By returning to work without council approval, the police are operating illegally, said Koski. By enforcing the law, they are breaking it.


Village fight over Oakley Police
“They’re out of control,” said Trustee Fuzz Koski, center, said of the Oakley Police Department. “They seem to think they don’t need to have any council approval.”(Photo: Dale G. Young, The Detroit News)


But Police Chief Rob Reznick said the trustees, in voting to disband the police, ruled the action would last until the department received insurance.

"You like to believe I'm running rampant, doing everything on my own. That's not the case," he told a reporter.

Reznick said Sue Dingo, the board president pro tem, had approved the police's return.

He refused to answer any other questions, abruptly ending a phone call by hanging up.

Dingo didn't return several phone calls.

The community has 300 residents and 100 auxiliary police officers.


Village fight over Oakley Police
But Police Chief Rob Reznick says Sue Dingo, the board president pro tem, had approved the police’s return.(Photo: Dale G. Young, The Detroit News)


The volunteer reserves are well-heeled out-of-towners who donate so much money that they cover the $38,000 police budget and some other government expenses.

In return, their status as auxiliary officers allows them to bring their guns into no-weapon zones such as bars and ballparks, even while off-duty.

The latest controversy with the police began in July when the Michigan Municipal League canceled the village's insurance.

The organization said it was concerned by the high number of reserves and numerous lawsuits filed against the village by a village trustee feuding with Reznick.

On July 1, the same day the insurance expired, Dingo announced village clerk Cheryl Bolf had found new coverage to replace it.

During a trustee meeting in August, Bolf said she didn't realize the new insurance didn't cover police.

On Sept. 9, the trustees voted 5-1 to disband the police because of the lack of insurance.

The vote was remarkable because, following the death of Supervisor Doug Shindorf, most tallies ended in a 3-3 deadlock.

Three days later, however, the police were back on the street.

Koski said he was told by Dingo that the reserves had purchased $500,000 worth of coverage for one year.

But Koski said the council needed to approve the resumption of police duties.

He filed a lawsuit in Saginaw Circuit Court to stop the return. A week earlier, he had filed a lawsuit against the legality of the insurance adopted in July.

In both cases, Koski argues, Dingo overstepped her authority by making the moves without council support.

The two cases are scheduled to be heard Oct. 7.

"I'm just at the point where I'd like the judge to make a decision: Does she run the town by herself?" said Koski. "Should the rest of the council just go home?"

FDonnelly@detroitnews.com

(313) 223-4186
Post Sun Sep 28, 2014 3:29 pm 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

Village battle over Oakley Police Department resumes


Francis X. Donnelly, The Detroit News 10:33 a.m. EDT September 28, 2014


Oakley— One day, the village police were uninsured. The next, they were covered. Another day, the police were disbanded. The next, they had returned to work.

Each day seems to bring a new development in this small central Michigan community with a big police department.

Earlier this month the police, already accused of having too much political power, resumed operations without a council vote after volunteer officers paid $25,000 for department insurance.

With the Oakley Board of Trustees deadlocked 3-3 on most issues, critics compared the police to a military junta that takes over a banana republic.

"They're out of control," said Trustee Fuzz Koski. "They seem to think they don't need to have any council approval."

By returning to work without council approval, the police are operating illegally, said Koski. By enforcing the law, they are breaking it.


Village fight over Oakley Police
“They’re out of control,” said Trustee Fuzz Koski, center, said of the Oakley Police Department. “They seem to think they don’t need to have any council approval.”(Photo: Dale G. Young, The Detroit News)


But Police Chief Rob Reznick said the trustees, in voting to disband the police, ruled the action would last until the department received insurance.

"You like to believe I'm running rampant, doing everything on my own. That's not the case," he told a reporter.

Reznick said Sue Dingo, the board president pro tem, had approved the police's return.

He refused to answer any other questions, abruptly ending a phone call by hanging up.

Dingo didn't return several phone calls.

The community has 300 residents and 100 auxiliary police officers.

The volunteer reserves are well-heeled out-of-towners who donate so much money that they cover the $38,000 police budget and some other government expenses.

In return, their status as auxiliary officers allows them to bring their guns into no-weapon zones such as bars and ballparks, even while off-duty.

The latest controversy with the police began in July when the Michigan Municipal League canceled the village's insurance.

The organization said it was concerned by the high number of reserves and numerous lawsuits filed against the village by a village trustee feuding with Reznick.

On July 1, the same day the insurance expired, Dingo announced village clerk Cheryl Bolf had found new coverage to replace it.

During a trustee meeting in August, Bolf said she didn't realize the new insurance didn't cover police.

On Sept. 9, the trustees voted 5-1 to disband the police because of the lack of insurance.

The vote was remarkable because, following the death of Supervisor Doug Shindorf, most tallies ended in a 3-3 deadlock.

Three days later, however, the police were back on the street.

Koski said he was told by Dingo that the reserves had purchased $500,000 worth of coverage for one year.

But Koski said the council needed to approve the resumption of police duties.

He filed a lawsuit in Saginaw Circuit Court to stop the return. A week earlier, he had filed a lawsuit against the legality of the insurance adopted in July.

In both cases, Koski argues, Dingo overstepped her authority by making the moves without council support.

The two cases are scheduled to be heard Oct. 7.

"I'm just at the point where I'd like the judge to make a decision: Does she run the town by herself?" said Koski. "Should the rest of the council just go home?"

FDonnelly@detroitnews.com

(313) 223-4186
Post Sun Sep 28, 2014 3:33 pm 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

State of Michigan investigating police force in Village of Oakley


Brad Devereaux | bdeverea@mlive.com By Brad Devereaux | bdeverea@mlive.com
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on July 22, 2014 at 9:30 AM, updated July 25, 2014 at 1:37 PM


OAKLEY, MI — A small-town police department with a large force of reserve officers in Saginaw County is under scrutiny by the state of Michigan.

The state wants to know if the village of Oakley is violating any statutes that govern licensing of police officers, according to David L. Harvey, executive director of the Michigan Commission of Law Enforcement Standards.

Harvey said Monday, July 21, that the agency and the Michigan Attorney General's Office have started a joint investigation of the village, which has a population of 300 and a reserve officer force estimated at 100.

Joy Yearout, spokeswoman for Attorney General Bill Schuette, did not confirm the office's involvement and said the office had no comment.

Oakley Village Police Chief Rob Reznick said the police department and reserve force has done nothing wrong.

"If there is an investigation, I welcome it," Reznick said. "We'll cooperate fully. We have nothing to hide."

Reznick has said in the past that the reserve force is a positive thing for the village. Its members are there to help the police department and village residents, he said.

The reservists, most from out of town, donate thousands of dollars to help the village with expenses. The reservists rarely work in Oakley, although they are allowed to carry weapons if they are called to duty for special events.

The Saginaw News published a series of articles beginning in March about the operation of the Oakley Police Department.

The Michigan Municipal League notified the village in January that its liability and property insurance would be cut off because of the number of lawsuits filed against the village and the police department's "lack of cooperation" with the league's risk management efforts.

The village found a new insurance policy on July 1, the day their existing coverage ran out, through a lead with a company that one of the reservists provided, Reznick said.

The Saginaw News is seeking additional information on the state's actions to review the police force in Oakley. Village Clerk Cheryl Bolf declined to say if the village has received subpoenas.

"We welcome any investigation to end this saga," Bolf wrote in an email. "We maintain we have done everything we can to make sure the village and its residents are protected. There is always two sides to every story but the media refuses to give both sides."

MCOLES is a government agency that has oversight of police departments in Michigan. It does not currently provide oversight for reserve officers.

"They are not regulated by the state," Harvey said, noting that local ordinances or charters can provide some oversight.

Harvey could not say what led the agency to begin investigating Oakley, but said the agency has received complaints in the past about other reserve forces that have prompted investigations.

"We get complaints from time to time about the misuse of reserve officers," he said, which he defines as "nonlicensed, non fully trained individuals, really civilians, who have a badge and a gun issued by an agency."

In the case of Oakley's reserve force, Reznick has said he requires every reserve officer to have a concealed pistol license when they apply to become a member and that he requires them to attend training multiple times per year.

Reznick, who was hired as the village's top cop in 2008, said the Michigan Municipal League told him years ago it did not like the idea of him operating a large reserve force.

Reznick was hired as chief of police in Jackson County's Waterloo Township in March 2014 and he said he plans to do both chief jobs at once.

— Brad Devereaux is a public safety reporter for MLive/The Saginaw News. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and Google+ MLive reporter Andy Hoag contributed to this report.
Post Sun Sep 28, 2014 3:42 pm 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

micu29
Jul 23, 2014

Not a cop basher by far but I call them like I see them and this guy has some issues. Several years ago I stopped him and he went off the deep end. I honestly thought he was having some mental problem. I'm embarrassed that his professional title is the same as mine. He gives all cops a bad name.
Post Sun Sep 28, 2014 3:44 pm 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

Reading1234
Aug 27, 2014

@micu29 Interesting, and yet not surprising at all. He's a known loose cannon.


Tim Mastie
Jul 23, 2014

& what is up with that many reserve officers for such a small populated town, that shouldn't even be legal sounds more like a gang than a police force.



Tim Mastie
Jul 23, 2014

And I highly doubt people donated that much cash for no reason at all or that it's clean money, highly doubt it.


Tim Mastie
Jul 23, 2014
This town needs help, doesn't sound right to me, I hope they dig deep enough with their investigation to change the police force.


Reading1234
Jul 23, 2014

The police chief is a bully and a manipulator. His reservist 'donations' secure his authority to throw his weight around in the village and harass locals - through intimidation, unwarranted traffic violations and and over whelming presence of police patrolling the area. The biggest crime I've ever witnessed was someone walking into the party store without shoes on. I mean, come on now! The group of wanna-be "leaders" who are supporting this chief on the village council smell money and with that, they assume to be invincible. This is a hard-working, farming community. Many residents are living on social security and many others are young couples raising children. This isn't a village that runs rampant shooting guns in the middle of the night off their front porches in the village - they is very little, if any crime! Parents discipline and control their children, teach them morals and good manners, elders share stories of the by-gone years and many of us do what we can to lend a hand to our neighbors. We can take care of our own and quite frankly, its an utter embarrassment to have a village council and a police force and chief who have now built walls right down main street - split up families who have a difference in opinion on the matter and caused local businesses to no longer have the friendly relationship that existed for generations past. Reznick needs to go and so do his supporters. They're just as guilty of this mess and their decisions are only self serving and the result of deaf ears. Voters... I urge you to go out and speak your mind in November. Bring in new blood and get rid of the embarrassments in this village. Thank you to the media for listening to the voices that seem to be overshadowed and tossed to the side because the village idiots seem to be louder and more rampant than those who want to restore peace and a sense of brotherhood in Oakley.
Post Sun Sep 28, 2014 3:48 pm 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

CPatch
Jul 22, 2014


Oh and from what police community did he (Reznik and his fellow officers) come from before Oakley? I believe the answer is Perry.

What kind of abuse of power did he/they do there and why did he/they have to leave?!

jtirtzy
Jul 23, 2014

@CPatch Coleman, at one time.



CPatch
Jul 22, 2014

Again ... if people want to donate to the people of Oakley then why don't they give the money directly to the village!? Why is the money laundered through the police department!?

Why is Reznik allowed to be police chief in two different places? More than likely he will set up the same operation there!


slots223
Jul 22, 2014

How can Reznick be the police chief in two different counties? The law should be changed on how many people you are allowed to have a reserve force. Something just does not sound right.






Brad Devereaux | bdeverea@mlive.com


Brad Devereaux | bdeverea@mlive.com
Jul 22, 2014




@zackwest Thanks for the input. The insurance company stuck with the village for some time, but decided to drop them once the number of lawsuits became too many. They also cite the PD's "lack of cooperation" with risk management efforts as a reason to discontinue the coverage.




ExtraCrunchySaginawSid


ExtraCrunchySaginawSid
Jul 22, 2014

I believe a big reason why so many want to "join" the Oakley Police as a reservist is the ability to obtain an upgraded concealed carry permit, and I don't believe it is limited to the Oakley Village limits. The following is an excerpt from a previously published story on MLive.




" Raye’s status as a reserve officer gives him a special privilege. He and the other reservists can apply for an exemption allowing them to carry concealed weapons in pistol-free zones including bars, casinos, day-care centers, sports arenas, hospitals, churches, schools and sporting arenas that seat 2,500 or more people.

Raye says he has not applied for the exempt license.

Reznick said he doesn’t know how many reservists have applied for the exemption, but he feels his reserve officers are well trained, and he wants them to be able to carry their guns everywhere.

"They get an upgraded permit that is exempt from pistol-free zones," Reznick said. "I have no problem with that."




It appears, then, that donations received by the Chief from these reservists is tantamount to buying this special privilege, which, as I understand the law, isn't available to just regular citizens, i.e. non-police reservists.
Post Sun Sep 28, 2014 4:13 pm 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

Town Crier
Jul 22, 2014
Anyone remember Joe Wilson? Does the news? Probably not. After-all, most if not all it's reporters were youngsters when that issue was developing. Hell, most if not all the reporters are youngsters now Anyway, does anyone remember Joe Wilson?


dmbierlein
Jul 22, 2014

@Town Crier You mean the "Joe Wilson" from an article about 2 weeks ago?

www.mlive.com/news/bay-city/index.ssf/2014/07/stevensville_woman_charged_wit.html

Town Crier
Jul 22, 2014

@dmbierlein @Town Crier No. I'm speaking of former Genesee County Sheriff Joe Wilson -- the sheriff who allegedly "sold" deputy badges/ID cards for a "campaign donation" fee. That Joe Wilson.
Post Sun Sep 28, 2014 4:16 pm 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

State investigating Oakley police: See events of past two years

Brad Devereaux | Mlive.com Oakley resident Joe Bennett addresses the village board during a village meeting, April 8, 2014. Bennett was one of many Oakley residents who aired their concerns about the Oakley Police Department during the meeting.

Brad Devereaux | bdeverea@mlive.com

Brad Devereaux | bdeverea@mlive.com By Brad Devereaux | bdeverea@mlive.com
Follow on Twitter
on July 22, 2014 at 2:20 PM, updated July 22, 2014 at 2:56 PM



OAKLEY, MI — The operation of the Village of Oakley's police department is the target of an investigation by the Michigan Attorney General's Office and Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards.

The state wants to review the village's police licensing practices, according to MCOLES Executive Director David L. Harvey.

Village officials say they've done nothing wrong and defend the police department's operation, which includes about 100 reserve officers. Oakley has a population of about 300.

The Saginaw News brought light to the controversy with the police department's reserve force and the town's subsequent loss of insurance coverage by the Michigan Municipal League through a series of articles beginning in late March called "Small Town, Big Problem."

Here's a look back at what has unfolded in the small southwestern Saginaw County community in the past two years:



October 2012:

Bartender Aileen Gengler and Oakley Family Tavern owners Dennis and Shannon Bitterman filed harassment complaints against Chief of Police Robert Reznick that were scheduled to be heard by a village police committee Oct. 2, 2012. Questioning the legality of holding the meeting in a closed session, the village board postponed the hearing until a later date.

Outside, a group of about 30 people held signs that read "we need a new police chief" and similar sentiments. Chief Reznick's attorney said Reznick maintains his innocence.

The police committee met in November and recommended that the board clear the chief of the accusations. The village board voted to accept the recommendations of the committee and cleared the chief of wrongdoing.

Jessica

September 2013:

Dozens of Oakley residents attended a Sept. 11, 2013, village council meeting and voiced concerns about the number of police officers patrolling the community, days after the Oakley Bike Run, an annual event held on Sept. 6, 7 and 8, 2013. Chief of Police Rob Reznick, pictured above at left, attended the meeting and said the two arrests at the bike run were valid arrests.



April 2013:

Shannon Bitterman, wife of village trustee Dennis Bitterman and co-owner of the Oakley Family Tavern, pictured above, filed a Freedom of Information Act request seeking information including the names of the village's approximately 100 reserve officers.

After the village denied the request, Bitterman filed a lawsuit, which was granted in part and denied in part by a Saginaw County judge. The village did not give Bitterman any of the information that was granted.

Bitterman's attorney, Philip Elison, has since appealed the decision and the case is waiting to be heard in the court of appeals.


Oakley2.JPG

Aileen Gengler pages through information she has gathered about Oakley Chief of Police Robert Reznick.

May 2013:

Dennis Bitterman filed a lawsuit against the village and Police Chief Robert Reznick in May 2013, alleging Reznick threatened to put bar employee Aileen Gengler in the trunk of his vehicle. The suit alleges the employee asked Bitterman for help in handling Reznick.

The suit was filed in response to the village board dismissing complaints from Bitterman and the waitress in November 2012, and was one of five lawsuits the Bittermans would file in 2013.

The case is pending in Saginaw County Circuit Court.



January 2014:

In January, the Michigan Municipal League said it notified village officials that the village would be dropped from its property and liability insurance coverage.

Effective July 1, the decision was based on frequency of claims and also "the Village of Oakley Police Department's lack of cooperation and commitment with MML Liability and Property Pool risk management efforts," according to the League.



March 2014:

The Saginaw News launched a series examining the controversy in Oakley and the impending loss of insurance. The stories brought attention to the small town's problem, prompting residents to flood the town hall for the next regular meeting and bringing reporters from around the state to attend.



April 2014:

On Tuesday, April 8, village trustee Francis Koski, pictured above at right, moved to dissolve the Oakley Police Department, citing the department as the top reason why the village was losing its insurance.

The motion failed in a 3 to 4 vote, with Koski, Dennis Bitterman and Norm Wolfe voting in favor of the motion and trustees Sue Dingo, John Lorencz, Richard Schuster and President Doug Shindorf voting against it.



In an interview with The Saginaw News in April, Detroit business owner Patrick Raye, one of Oakley's estimated 100 reserve police officers, said the reserve force is "not there to bring anyone down."

Chief of Police Rob Reznick commented in April that the good outweighs the bad of his police reserve unit.



Shannon and Dennis Bitterman, owners of the Oakley Family Tavern, sued four members of the seven-member village board and also the village clerk and the village in late April, alleging harassment and intimidation stemming from a newsletter, The Village Voice, that those five people had their names printed on. The latest suits makes the sixth from the Bitterman family against the village and/or its officials.



May 2014:

Village Clerk Cheryl Bolf, pictured above at left, said during the village's May meeting that the village had been denied insurance coverage by four companies as she searched for coverage with a July 1 deadline ahead. Bolf said at a past meeting that estimates to insure the village were more than $100,000 per year, though the village paid about $11,000 per year through the Michigan Municipal League.



June 2014:

Village officials said they were considering "self insurance" during their regular June board meeting, less than one month before their existing insurance coverage was to be canceled. Oakley citizens questioned what would happen if the village had to pay for insurance claims and asked if the money might have to come from residents. Resident Cozy Milbrant, pictured above, asked why board member Dennis Bitterman can sue the board and questioned whether it was a conflict of interest for him to do so.



Village of Oakley President Doug Shindorf, pictured above at right, died June 24 after a brief battle with leukemia, board members confirmed. He was 57 and a lifelong fixture in the village.



July 2014:

After spending several hours without property and liability insurance coverage, the village of Oakley secured an insurance policy on July 1, the same day their existing coverage was terminated, according to acting board president Sue Dingo, pictured above in blue. The new policy is similar to the previous coverage the village had and costs "less than $15,000" per year, Dingo said.

The Michigan Attorney General's Office and Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards started a joint investigation of the village's police licensing practices, MCOLES Executive Director David L. Harvey said Monday, July 21.

Photographs by Brad Devereaux, Jeff Schrier and Jessica Shepherd.

— Brad Devereaux is a public safety reporter for MLive/The Saginaw News. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and Google+
Post Sun Sep 28, 2014 4:24 pm 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

beerbucket
Aug 4, 2014

The overarching question may be to ask why a city of 300 people needs its own government . . .without question 100 reserve officers is absurd. City's as big as GR do;t allow any reserves . . . dissolve these tiny villages and their dysfunctional government structure, let the county provide all its services, they are more accountable at that level and we need to consolidate public services anyway . . .



Kim Slocum
Jul 26, 2014
Have a friend who works security at the one of largest hospitals in the Detroit area. Their security has had more than one incident involving individuals with Oakley Police badges coming in the emergency "off duty" and creating disturbance over clearing the metal detectors and refusing to secure weapons.

Anne
Jul 26, 2014

@Kim Slocum They all appear to be a bunch of wannabes... After hearing about incidents while they were drunk in bars, this does not surprise anyone. A seriously demented view of what law enforcement is supposed to entail. Sadly, they make it hard for the real ones.
Post Sun Sep 28, 2014 4:29 pm 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

Resume from Oakley
Chief Robert J. Reznick



Robert J. Reznick joined the Oakley Police Department as Chief of Police in 2008 with more than 36 years of law enforcement experience. Early in Chief Reznick’s career he worked in full-time and part-time roles as a Police Officer, Narcotics Detective, and Deputy Sheriff for various cities, townships, and villages within the State of Michigan. Between 1992 and 2007 Chief Reznick, worked concurrently for two Michigan police departments, earning rapid promotions to become police chief/deputy chief for the City of Coleman and the Village of Gaines. Chief Reznick has been honored with numerous awards of merit, citation certificates, and letters of commendation throughout his illustrious police career, including “Criminal Investigation Award” (Village of Oakley Police Department) and four-time honors as “Police Officer of the Year” (Flushing Police Department). Chief Reznick is a graduate of the Flint Police Academy, holds an AAS degree in Criminal Justice from Mott Community College, Certified in Basic Police Officer Training Program through Delta College, completed the Michigan Police Executive Development Program conducted by the Michigan Chapter of the FBI National Academy and attended Saginaw Valley State University for Criminal Justice. His current professional affiliation includes the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police, International Narcotics Enforcement Officers Association, Deputy Sheriff’s Association of Michigan, Saginaw County Chief of Police Association.
Post Sun Sep 28, 2014 4:33 pm 
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