Frankenmuth PD explains their police reserve program - WNEM TV 5

Frankenmuth PD explains their police reserve program in wake of Oakley controversy

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FRANKENMUTH, MI (WNEM) -

Controversy continues to swirl on how the Village of Oakley's reserve police force operates.

TV5's "I-Team" uncovered the story on how reservists are making a donation in exchange for a badge and other privileges.

And as that story continues to develop, TV5 is looking at other Mid-Michigan reserve programs and how they operate.

In Frankenmuth, the "80's Fest" rocks Heritage Park this weekend.  When events like this come to town, the Frankenmuth Police Department calls in extra reserve officers to help with traffic and crowd patrols.

The reserve division consists of nearly 30 men and women.  The department requires each of them to pass extensive background checks and complete nearly 300 hours of training before receiving their badge.

Marc Dirusso, 62, is one of the reserves.

"I'm very proud to have earned that badge," said Dirusso.

It is a process that took him nine months to complete.

"Usually we start off with about 100 resumes, and by the time they get past the oral boards, we're down to eight," explained Sgt. Tony McLaughlin of the Frankenmuth Police Department.

Those who make the cut volunteer their time to the department.

"For me, you have to earn your way. And I wouldn't want it any other way," said Dirusso.

McLaughlin leads the reserve program.  He said it runs off of a $5,000 budget set aside by the city.  And unlike what the TV5 "I-Team" uncovered in Oakley, where citizens are able to donate to the department to become reserve officers, no private donations are allowed in Frankenmuth.

"When you're taking donations from a private citizen, that just, there are too many ethical cliffs to fall off of. And we don't want to put this department in that light," said McLaughlin.

He said the only donations the department accepts are from civic organizations because accepting private donations can potentially scar the integrity of the department and the officers who are sworn in to protect and serve.

"When you put somebody in this uniform, whether they're reserve, or full time, it doesn't matter. It's just as important.  There's no difference.  It's a uniform. It's this community's uniform. It's a symbol of trust, and you have to be very choosy on who you give it to," said McLaughlin.

Reserve officers for Frankenmuth Police must live in Saginaw County or counties that border it.

To see the investigative piece looking into the Oakley Police Department, CLICK HERE.

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