Oakley lawsuit tied to police reserves settled

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OAKLEY (WJRT) - (07/05/17) - A settlement has been reached in a case that played a big part in exposing a small town's police reserve unit.

You might remember how the town of Oakley, with just 300 people, grabbed headlines and lawsuits over its 150 member police reserve unit.

The family that started the legal action to expose that reserve unit has received money - and a lot of it - but they don’t feel like they won.

Dennis and Shannon Bitterman sued the village of Oakley and its police chief in 2014, claiming they and their business were being retaliated against for speaking out - speaking out about how one of its waitresses at the bar they own claimed police chief Rob Reznick was harassing her and because the couple wanted to know the identities of Reznick's police reserve unit.

The lawsuit has been settled for $100,000.

“I don't think it's justice,” Dennis said.

Dennis gets emotional when talking about the last four years.

“It's ruined our business, my daughter doesn't want to do the business no more, we are selling it,” he said.

“This has divided our community and that is the worst price we've paid,” Shannon said.

The Bittermans and others wanted to know who the police reservists were, and when the list was released in 2014, many were surprised most were from the Detroit area, even a former Detroit Lion. Reznick remains the police chief of Oakley, making about $500 a month.

“He no longer comes to our meetings or attends the village functions, he's like a ghost here in Oakley,” Shannon said.

Village president Rich Fish did not want to talk about the settlement on camera, but did confirm that Reznick remains police chief and that he says there are four or five reserve officers.

Shannon says the settlement shows the legal action was justified, but she is still concerned.

“We made some gains, but we are still basically at square one, Chief Reznick is still chief of police and we still have this anonymous, for the most part, reserve team,” she said.

We could not reach Reznick for comment.

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