Residents pack Barry Township meeting; MSP finds no criminal wrongdoing

DELTON, Mich. — Monday, Barry Township residents voiced their opinions of the police chief and how he runs his department.

More than 200 residents filled the Delton-Kellogg High School auditorium for the township board meeting.

During public comment period, some residents expressed support for Chief Victor Pierce. Other people expressed their opposition to his leadership and the 34 reserve officers with the department.

The township has four full-time and four part-time officers. The township is made up of about 3,200 residents.

Some residents feel 34 reserve officers are too many. Citizens claim harassment by officers has been an issue.

The reserve officer program has since been suspended.

This whole issue stems from an incident between a bar owner and police back in May. The owner of Tujax Tavern, Jack Nadwornik, said police used excessive force after they caught him urinating next to his business.

Residents on both sides of the issue had something to say:

“We’re basically here because of (the chief’s) inability to run the police
department and that’s his main job, example being… putting vehicles on
the road that’s not worthy, hiring people that’s questionable to be on
the force, and building a fleet that didn’t fit into the community.”

- John Carpenter

“I must say I am appalled that at the word of one person, the board
decided to take the reserve officers out of the school. I stand behind Chief
Pierce. I stand behind the department full.”

- Chelsea Maneis

“I’d like to remind them that they wouldn’t be in this position if they hadn’t started using excessive force. A few of ‘em took it upon
themselves to handcuffs these kids (inaudible), and then they knock the frog snot out of a guy instead of using pepper spray or mace on
him.”

-Don Lewer

“I like knowing that my kids can walk down the street without fear of being abducted, molested, bullied. There is a policeman there. I feel
that Victor Pierce and his police force have been wrongly accused. I’m sorry that Mr. Jack has had his troubles but if they weren’t
causing trouble, then there would have been no trouble (the crowd disapproved). You want to misbehave in our area, there’s a policeman that’s going to
put a stop to it.”

- Elizabeth Weatherby

Chief Pierce spoke with FOX 17 following the meeting. He stands behind his department. He said everyone’s allowed to voice their opinion and said he appreciates the community’s strong show of support.

Pierce said he was not trying to run an army or militarized department as some residents have claimed. He said his focus was on improving ‘response times’ for officers who call for backup. Pierce said when he started with the department, it took 15 minutes for officer backup to arrive.

A personnel review for Chief Pierce is scheduled for Tuesday, August 5 at 6 p.m. at the Delton-Kellogg High School Auditorium.

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