An investigation into a nuisance complaint sparked a heated argument Thursday night at the Orrick City Council meeting in which displeasure was directed at Orrick Police Chief Troy Sims.
Residents Duncan and Margaret McGregor were displeased with Sims for going onto their property when they were not home to take pictures of a pond in the McGregor’s backyard. Margaret said her husband was in the hospital when Sims went to their house a week ago. The McGregors said a neighbor alerted them.
“Our neighbors keep an eye on our house,” Margaret said. “We don’t need that.”
City Attorney Kevin Baldwin told the McGregors that Sims had every right to go onto their property and cited the Plain View Doctrine as a source to back up his claim. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a case, Horton v. California, that an officer can investigate and retrieve contraband if in plain view.
The McGregors said they have had the pond in their backyard since 1994 and gold fish live in the pond.
Baldwin further defended Sims and said he instructed Sims not to confront the McGregors.
“I told him to take the path of least resistance, which is don’t confront them if you don’t have to,” Baldwin said. “It’s within his rights, and avoids confrontation.”
The McGregors also claimed that Sims threw down his badge and challenged Duncan to a fight last year and asked why nothing was done about the issue.
Baldwin dismissed the claim and said that was not the issue on the table.
Aldermen Cindy Lampton and Todd Wyse both said they investigated the pond and found no issue with stagnant water or a foul odor. Mayor Marilyn Butler said she reviewed the report and the case would be dropped.
Sims also said he concluded that there was no nuisance and declared the case closed which sparked anger from the McGregors.
“You’re a liar!” Duncan said, while standing up and moving towards Sims with a pointed finger. “It’s funny how he sneaks in there when we’re gone. He’s been a liar all along!”
Duncan sat down but continued to point his finger at Sims and said, “I’m going to get you.”
The McGregors asked who filed the complaint against them. Baldwin identified Elliot Rice as the person who filed the complaint. However, Butler said she had a written statement in her possession from Rice saying he never filed a complaint.
Former Mayor Shirley Taylor said Rice complained to her many times while she was still mayor about the pond and other issues with the McGregor’s property.
While Sims said the case is closed as far as he is concerned, Butler said the investigation would continue in closed session.
Butler said she spoke with Sims and that nuisance violations would be handled in a different manner. Wyse, who used to be a police officer defended Sims’ actions but called for cooperation.