How would you feel if you knew that there were dozens of armed officers with badges in hand on patrol throughout Michigan.
But these officers didn't necessarily graduate from the police academy. They got their badges simply by donating to the Oakley police department.
So how did this village of 300 residents end up with so many people willing to protect it, even if they don't live inside its borders? And could they be patrolling in your town?
It's a scenario playing out in the Saginaw County community of Oakley with an impact reaching far beyond the small village's borders. A simple donation to their small town police department could give you the green light to openly carrying firearms almost anywhere you want in the entire state of Michigan.
It's one of six villages in Saginaw County, barely more than one square mile in size. Not even three hundred people live here.
But what the village of Oakley does have is a reserve police force of at least 100 officers. If you do the math, that's at least one reserve officer for every three people.
It's one of the towns best kept secrets and so are the names of the reservists, who are given an officer identification.
They're also given an authorization on their concealed pistol license to carry a gun in gun free zones like schools and churches. If they want to pay an undisclosed amount of money, they get an official police badge.
One of the reservists, Guido Adenbaum, is an attorney living in West Bloomfield. More than 70 miles away from Oakley.
He agreed to talk to TV5 because he believes the program isn't hurting anyone and is in fact helping the village.
"From what I understand, the money that the reservists pays for the actual police department that serves the village," says Adenbaum.
Adenbam says he heard about it from an acquaintance. He donated money to the police department's reserve program after being accepted.
TV5 asked Adenbaum how much he donated for the right to have this privilege. He says he donated $1,000.
To get into the program, you fill out an application which is then approved by the police chief, Rob Reznick.
Reznick declined an on-camera interview but did tell TV5 that every applicant must already have a concealed pistol license, meaning they underwent a background check.
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 individuals privacy.
Adenbaum says there are people from Oakland County are involved in the program.
One of those people was Ortonville resident and former Waterford Township police officer Brian Mahoney. He pleaded no contest to two weapons charges in an Oakland County courtroom back in 2011 after he allegedly got into an altercation and fired a gun outside a Waterford Township bar.
At the time of the shooting, officials say he told officers he was an off duty officer with the village of Oakley.
He was sentenced to probation and was forced to resign from the village of Oakley reservist program.
Oakley council member Francis Koski is now questioning the thousands of dollars flowing into the village from the "self-funded" police department who operates on a budget of 40-thousand dollars. Koski says since Reznick became chief, they've acquired a new police car, golf cart, a 30-thousand dollar playground and even bought a Christmas ham for every family.
"We have no idea how much money is coming in to this town, how much money does Oakley own and how much money has the reserves gave us?," says Koski.
Chief Reznick told TV5 they survive solely on donations from reservists and he says 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.
But to reservist Guido Adenbaum, it's a force of good that has no intention of going away and plans to only get stronger.
"If I run across the right guy or gal, who I think has the right motivation and wants to do it for the right reasons, I'd be happy to try to recruit somebody else to the program," says Adenbaum.
Chief Reznick says he is complying with all laws and regulations required for reserve officer programs. Reznick told TV5, in the past six years he's only had to remove three reservists from the program. One of them being Brian Mahoney.
He also insists the village could not survive without this program.
Copyright 2014 WNEM (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
Tuesday, April 20 2010 11:21 PM EDT2010-04-21 03:21:00 GMT
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