VILLAGE OF RICHLAND POLICE FAQs
Dozens of citizens have shared the following information with the monitors of our Website and Facebook pages. Linked documents were obtained through the Freedom of Information Act by individuals and the Committee has been asked to share this information for voter review. If you have information or experiences to add to this page, please contact us through the Contact page. Your identity will be protected and contributions are appreciated.
Q: Does Richland really need a 'private' Police Force?
A: No. Both the Kalamazoo Sheriff's Department and the Michigan State Police are available and currently patrol the Richland area.
Q: Does the Village Police Department have a ticket quota system?
A: Yes. Township residents and other non-Village citizens are specifically targeted for traffic stops under a policy to write as many minor traffic infraction tickets as possible. The ticket quotas are necessarily high so the Village can apply for additional funding from the state that would not otherwise be available.
Q: How many tickets do the Village Police issue?
A: The Village Police issue, on average 4.6, tickets per day. This equates to over 1700 tickets per year for a small village of less than 800
Q: Is enforcement fair and equitable in the Village of Richland?
A: No. Township residents and other citizens who live outside the Village limits are issued almost all of the 1700 tickets issued per year. In contrast, Village residents are issued verbal warnings and McDonald's gift certificates for the inconvenience of being stopped. Until recently, this policy was a point-of-pride for Council members and spouses, a fact they used as an additional ‘service’ and reason for Village residents to maintain the current Village Council structure.
Q: Do the Village Police regularly follow citizens driving through the Village of Richland?
A: Yes. The Richland Village Police often follow drivers and make traffic stops several miles outside of their jurisdiction.
Q: Have Village Police misrepresented their credentials to outside authorities?
A: Yes. There are several documented instances.
Q: Do you have documented examples of Village Police misrepresenting their credentials?
A: Yes. Several. Three components from one such incident were obtained through the Freedom of Information Act and Village Council acknowledgement:
Note: The restaurant subsequently received their license almost immediately after Ross Township discovered the interference. However, it cost that business months of delay and over $10,000 in attorney fees.
Q: Have the Richland Police over-stepped their authority in setting speed limits?
A: Yes. The Richland Police Department recently installed and arbitrarily change the speed limit from 55 MPH to 30 MPH along CD Ave. Numerous residents complained, including residents from neighboring townships, when tickets were being written on a drastically lower speed. The Kalamazoo County Road Commission confirmed the Richland Police had no authority to install county road signs, which were also installed too close to the road – making them a safety-hazard to drivers. The road commission pulled the signs. The Village would have been liable if anyone would have been injured as a result of the signs not being place according to code.
Q: Is there a negative impact to over-zealous policing?
A: Yes. Many Richland Township residents deliberately drive around the Village to avoid being unfairly targeted. This avoidance impacts the economic success of our small and locally-owned businesses.
Q: Do you have an example of over-zealous policing?
A: Yes. Village Police will often tailgate drivers through the Village for the purpose of gender profiling. They have a license plate camera that is linked to their patrol car computer. While the computer is accessing your vehicle information, you do not know if you should pull over, stop, or continue. It can be very uncomfortable for drivers, who need to focus on what is in front of them. If you happen to be driving your girlfriend’s car or the reverse, you may be pulled over for simply being the "wrong gender" driving that vehicle. And you have done nothing wrong to warrant the stop!
Q: Have Village Police officers misrepresented facts to justify stops that were not warranted?
A: Yes. Some misrepresentations and false claims have been captured on their own body cams and verified as untruthful through the Freedom of Information Act.
Q: Did the Chief of Police open an unauthorized bank account in the Village's name?
A: Yes. An account was opened and its existence kept secret until the Village Clerk discovered it by accident during a routine conversation with bank officials. Village auditors were particularly critical of this completely inappropriate action by the Chief.
Q: How did the Village Council respond to the Chief of Police opening an unauthorized bank account in the Village's name?
A: They did nothing. When members of the Village Council (Bob Prentice, Rob Brinkerhoff, and Paul Gobble) were informed by the Treasurer that the account violated accounting laws, Council members did nothing. Several months later, the Village Council was forced to close the account after their auditor's formal recommendation. Even then, the Police Chief did not follow instructions on proper account closure, i.e. requiring the Treasurer and President to be in attendance. The Treasurer and Clerk position is now appointed and no longer an elected position in the Village of Richland.
Q: Have Village Police officers demanded immediate payment from some individuals after they were issued traffic tickets?
A: Yes. Individuals have reported that they were required to immediately produce cash or withdraw money at a local ATM to satisfy the officer's demand for immediate payment.
Q: Have Village Police confiscated drivers' licenses from individuals until payment is secured?
A: Yes. Village officers frequently confiscate drivers’ licenses and demand a ‘bond’ be paid directly to the Village Police Department in order for licenses to be returned. Due to limited business hours and uncertain availability of the Police Chief, some residents have had to wait days and were excessively inconvenienced while attempting to have their licenses returned. Offices are closed Friday through Sunday and are only open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday.
Q: Have there been complaints to the State of Michigan and the courts?
A: Yes. Citizen complaints resulted in the Michigan State Police recommending a speed study to determine whether the Village of Richland main residential roads had appropriately set speed limits. Chief Mattioli conducted and completed the study on May 8, 2013. Based upon the charted data, it was determined the speed limit should be raised from 25 MPH to 30 MPH. However, from May 2013 to October 2013, the Village Council and Chief Mattioli did not correct or properly set the speed limit and continued to issue tickets based on the incorrect speed limit. After a court challenge by a township resident, the Village of Richland was forced to immediately comply and corrected the posted speed limit.
Q: Were violation tickets issued on the improperly set speed limit corrected or reversed?
Q: Are women and young drivers at risk to becoming victims of police impersonator crimes?
A: Yes. The "unmarked" low-profile patrol vehicles are very difficult to discern from civilian vehicles, which unnecessarily puts drivers at risk to become victims of police impersonator crimes which have happened in the past in the Richland area.
Q: Is it true that our Police Chief and current Village Council president have both been quoted in the context of wanting to take the Richland Village Police Department towards a more "militarized" style of policing?
A: Yes. This is a very dangerous mentality which negatively affects law-abiding citizens passing through the Village and the economic future of local small businesses.
Q: Is the Kalamazoo County Sheriff Department capable of providing patrol and enforcement in the Village of Richland?
A: Yes they are. Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Department is the current dispatch for Richland and regularly respond to calls.
Q: Is the Richland Police Department qualified for crime investigation or fully-trained as first responders?
Q: Are a large portion of my tax dollars are going to duplicate services?
A: Yes. Over 50 percent of the annual tax dollars paid by homeowners in the Village is supporting a duplicate system. Simply stated, you are paying twice for existing services that can effectively compete with their own resources and have access to higher-trained professionals.
For Campaign Facts, visit our Q&A page.
Merge the Village of Richland and Richland Township...to reduce expensive/redundant layers of government, "double" taxation, and give Village residents the freedom of choice - to reduce costs for desired services.