It’s been a rough few weeks for small Michigan communities with huge auxiliary police departments.
First, a state law enforcement agency demanded the names of 100 police reserves in Oakley, in central Michigan.
Then, the police chief in Barry Township in western Michigan resigned Thursday after criticism of, among other things, his 34 auxiliary police officers.
Oakley, population 290, was issued a subpoena July 15 by the state Commission on Law Enforcement Standards.
The commission, which sets training standards for police departments, also wants information about donations the auxiliary officers have made.
The reserves, who include doctors, lawyers and pro athletes from Metro Detroit, have donated $150,000 to Oakley since 2008, village officials said.
Critics have accused the officers of using the donations to become reserves, which allows them to bring their guns into no-weapon zones such as bars and ballparks.
Reserves look like regular police, carrying a badge, police ID and maybe a gun. They don’t have arrest power, instead assisting certified officers.
David Harvey, commission executive director, declined comment about the subpoena.
The Detroit News, which wrote about the police reserves recruited by Oakley Police Chief Rob Reznick shortly before the commission began its investigation last month, had filed a FOIA to obtain officers’ names, but was rebuffed by the village.
Meanwhile, in Barry Township, population 3,400, Victor Pierce had been under fire for the number of reserves on his force and his acquisition of armored vehicles. The department had been criticized for harassment and use of excessive force.
The township board met Thursday to discuss a performance review of Pierce and, when they reconvened in public after a two-hour closed session, the chief announced his resignation.
An unidentified representative of Pierce, reading his resignation letter to the board, said the controversy had taken a toll on the chief and his family.
“It’s now clear to me that my effectiveness as the leader of this department and as a law enforcement liaison with the township board has diminished based on this controversy,” the representative read.
Pierce, who became chief four years ago, left the meeting without comment.
The reserves had been suspended by the township board last month.