Oakley, Michigan has only 300 residents. Up until very recently, it also had 100 police officers. How does a town end up with a police force equal to one-third of its population? To answer that question, you have to go back to when it had a single police officer.
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.
A new chief, Robert Reznick, was installed. He immediately began hiring new officers. The one officer that had policed the town for several years without incident was replaced with twelve full-time officers. Then Reznick went further, allowing civilians to buy their way onto the police force.
Here’s how the chief’s program works: The wanna-be officers pay about about $1,200 for a uniform, bullet-proof vest and gun, and some make additional donations to the police department. In return, they get a police badge and the right to carry their gun almost anywhere in the state, including places that people with normal gun permits can’t, like casinos, bars, stadiums and daycare centers.
This proved to be very popular, even pulling in a couple of non-resident NFL players as auxiliary officers. Needless to say, running a pay-to-play police force tends to generate problems. Complaints were raised about the heightened police presence at a local event that had run peaceably (if rather rowdily) for years.