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Oxford officer accused of saying he wanted $500 to help

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Oxford Police Officer Todd Barraco is accused of saying he wanted $500 to help a man with a domestic situation. Oxford Police Officer Todd Barraco is accused of saying he wanted $500 to help a man with a domestic situation.
OXFORD, Mich. (WJBK) -

A man says when he called the Oxford Police Department for help, an officer told him he charged a $500 fee.  The civilian recorded the phone conversation.

A rocky relationship turned into a bad breakup for 29-year-old Nathaniel Bennett, who on Sunday felt he had no choice but to call police for help getting back his property from his very angry ex.

"Did not want to have any communication to avoid [a] volatile situation, and so I attempted to use the police to resolve it," he said.

Bennett said he called the Oxford Police Department's non-emergency line and was transferred to Officer Todd Barraco, who he has dealt with before.  He happens to have an app on his cell that recorded the following phone conversation.

BENNETT: I was going to simply ask is there any way that you could call her or tell her to drop off the stuff at the station, and I will come and get it this evening when I drop off my children.

OFFICER: I charge a $500 fee.  I want $500 cash if I'm going to be your personal service to go over and exchange messages.  Can you drop off $500 cash to my police department please?"

BENNETT: That sounds like bribery and extortion, which I know to be illegal.

OFFICER: That's me fee.

BENNETT: Okay, yeah, you don't even get paid that an hour.  Don't even try that one.  I know better.  I know law.

OFFICER: Then guess what?  Go hire an attorney, which is going to charge you 500 bucks to do this [expletive].

"It's not okay to hide behind a badge and say, oh, well, I'm not doing this unless you do this for me," Bennett remarked.

We tried to speak with Officer Barraco, who we're told has worked part-time for the department for the last three years.  He has been awarded for his work, but also disciplined for verbal misconduct in the past.  There was no one at home, but we did reach him by phone.

"I have no comment," he said.

Oxford Police Chief Michael Neymanowski called this a violation of the public's trust and unacceptable behavior.  Although the chief said he doesn't believe the officer would have taken the money, he has suspended Barraco and is still trying to determine the appropriate disciplinary action.

"He's sworn to help.  Their motto is to protect and to serve, but it seems so wrong," Bennett said.

Neymanowski told me it is a normal request for someone to ask for help from police for an unpredictable, potentially violent domestic situation, and this officer should have assisted.

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