Choice words in an email letter from a Warren police union leader about Lansing legislators has struck up some controversy.

The email from John Barnes, the head of the Warren Police Association, rails about GOP legislators in Lansing passing bills that would force public employees to start paying for their health care and move pensions into 401(k)s.

Barnes' letter expressly states that police officers should not be treated the same as other public employees including firefighters.

Then, the line in the letter that is causing all the controversy:

Barnes says police union members need to go to Lansing in the fall and "if we cannot earn their respect we will do what we have always done and hit it with a flashlight until we gain compliance!"

Barnes declined Local 4's request for an interview Wednesday night about his email and comments in it.

"This is a startling comment being made by a police officer and, we believe, not one that reflects well on the honorable men and women who serve in police uniforms," said Ari Adler, press secretary for Speaker of the House Jase Bolger.

The email was sent out to help drum up support for a recall against state representative Jeff Farrington, R-Utica. Barnes describes Farrington in the email as a low-hanging fruit because he is a new state representative in a district that typically elects Democrats.

Farrington said he was definitely surprised to see the letter aimed at him.

"When it came in I was shocked and, quite frankly, appalled," Farrington said. "This is a distraction and that's all it is. I am getting over it and moving on because it's the people that are unemployed right now and that's what I really want to focus on."

Several other representatives are being targeted for a recall, not just Farrington.

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