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A tiny town in Michigan will sell you a police badge and gun permit

For only a few thousand bucks, you can be Johnny law too


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Joanna Rothkopf
October 24, 2014 11:57PM (UTC)

Oakley, Mi. is barely a town at 300 people, only one streetlight and, until recently, one police officer. The one cop was good at his job, reports Vocativ's M.L. Nestel, until he was forced to step down after getting caught stalking a teenage girl.

In 2008, new chief Robert Reznick made some changes: he hired 12 full-time officers and started an enormous volunteer officer program which allowed lawyers, doctors and football players (from other towns) to work toward upholding the law.

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One qualifies for this prestigious program simply by paying $1,200 to the police department. In return, you'll get a uniform, bullet-proof vest and gun. For an additional donation, you'll get a police badge and the right to carry your gun basically anywhere in the state, including stadiums, bars and daycares.

Nestel has more on the strange, seemingly mega-corrupt arrangement:

Oakley's police chief has gotten into some hot water recently over his pet program. The Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards and the state's attorney general are both looking into how Oakley is collecting and spending money for its auxiliary cop program. And the police department was effectively shut down last month after it was unable to get insurance because of the ongoing investigations. Now all of Oakley's 911 calls are being fielded by state troopers and sheriff's deputies in nearby counties, and there are no police patrols in town.

Donna LaMontaine, the president of the Deputy Sheriffs Association of Michigan disapproves of the arrangement: "These people drop four or five grand and dress up to look like police. I have a problem with that." She also has a problem with the volunteer cops having access to data terminals: "In some places, these reservists are allowed to access to the law enforcement information network, where they can run your license plate and find out where you live and look at your driving record. That's happening."

Reserve police forces do exist, but seem to offer significantly more rigorous training: the prestigious Los Angeles Police Department Level III Reserve Officers which only perform administrative functions are required to take psychological and physical evaluations as well as complete 144 hours of classroom instruction in addition to 26 hours of basic self-defense training. The Oakley reserve cops complete 40 hours and are only obligated to serve eight hours a month, but get the benefits of their permits year-round.


Joanna Rothkopf

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