91.7 Ann Arbor/Detroit 104.1 Grand Rapids 91.3 Port Huron 89.7 Lansing 91.1 Flint
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Weird things are happening in this tiny Michigan township

Thetford Township

A small town official says his police department has acquired more than a million dollars worth of excess military equipment – but no one seems to know where it all is.

Stan Piechnik is a trustee of Thetford Township, a community of about 7,000 people just north of Flint.

He says he's not sure why the police would need it in the first place.

"Statistically, we're the fourth safest municipality in the state," says Piechnik, "and that came from the Michigan Township Association."

But the equipment appears not to be the SWAT-team type of stuff that other towns have acquired, like tanks and weapons. Piechnik says it’s mostly machinery that could be useful in construction and agriculture.  

He thinks the police chief has been loaning it to his friends.

Piechnik says once he and the township supervisor started asking questions, a group of about 40 people highly loyal to the police chief started coming to township board meetings and disrupting them, yelling and shouting down officials. Police officers refused to remove the rowdy citizens, he says.

Some of the equipment also started showing up, in front of the township hall. 

Piechnik says someone even placed a large military grade bulldozer in the driveway of the supervisor about three weeks ago, and took out the batteries, so it had to be towed away.  Now the township is on the hook for the $1,300 towing bill. Piechnik says the police chief has not yet apprehended the perpetrator.

Piechnik says he called the FBI and Michigan State Police to see if they would launch an investigation, to no avail.  Finally, the Genesee County Sheriff's department agreed to look into it.

Genesee County Undersheriff Christopher Swanson confirms there's an investigation to do with Thetford Township, but would give no details.

Thetford Township police chief Robert Kenny could not be reached for comment before this article was published. However, he has previously told MLive that everything to do with the equipment is above-board, and that Township Supervisor Gary Stevens has refused to sit down with him to hear his explanations.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.