Lincoln police chief off duty for restraining order

2013-10-04T11:00:00Z 2013-10-04T14:03:25Z Lincoln police chief off duty for restraining orderBy LEANN ECKROTH | Bismarck Tribune Bismarck Tribune

The Lincoln City Council has placed Lincoln Police Chief Marcel Sim on paid administrative leave because of a domestic violence restraining order against him.

According to court documents, Judicial Referee Wayne Goter signed the restraining order on Sept. 23 after a hearing involving Sim, his wife and their attorneys. The order is active until Dec. 31, 2014. Sim has been on paid administrative leave since the order was put in place, Mayor Bob Johnston said.

The police chief position had been placed on the Lincoln City Council agenda Thursday, but the council delayed any discussion about Sim, saying that attorneys involved are negotiating.

Sim’s attorney, Carey Goetz, on Friday declined comment on the matter.

Johnston said Thursday evening that Sim remains on administrative paid leave until the council knows more about the restraining order. He said no action would be taken Thursday evening “because both sides were working it out.”

He later explained that the attorneys for the police chief and his wife, who filed for the restraining order in September, were negotiating.

“He has not been charged with anything criminal. He was not detained. He has a domestic violence protection order put in place against him. It’s public information,” Johnston said.

Goter’s handwritten notes on the restraining order indicate that Sim’s wife said that he caused a bruise to their 3-year-old daughter on Sept. 3 and threatened to throw a jar at her head.

Sim lives south of Lincoln, in the jurisdiction of the Burleigh County Sheriff’s Department. Sheriff Pat Heinert said his department referred a case related to Sim to the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation in early September, but has not responded to any domestic violence incident at Sim’s home. The sheriff’s department referred the case to BCI because of its relationship with the Lincoln Police Department. Liz Brocker, a spokesperson for BCI, said she could not comment on any BCI investigation.

Other allegations in the restraining order include that Sim repeatedly pushed his wife down on a bed in December 2010 and threatened to stab her “with a knife, which was close at hand,” and that he had threatened to punch her or throw objects at her head on numerous other occasions.

The restraining order prohibits Sim from possessing or purchasing any type of gun. Such a prohibition is required by state law in domestic violence restraining orders.

“With a police officer, it makes it hard to do your job,” Johnston said. “We were going to discuss that issue tonight, but it appears something is happening there so it would be inappropriate for us to discuss this. I don’t know what will happen. ... The two attorneys are talking. That’s all I know.”

If needed, the city council may hold a special meeting to discuss the Sim situation, Johnston said.

Heinert said he is aware of the restraining order against Sim. His department often is called to back up Lincoln police officers, since it is not unusual even when the department is full strength for it to have only one officer on duty, he said. The sheriff does not believe requests for assistance to the town south of Bismarck have increased.

“We go out there quite a bit anyhow,” he said.

City Auditor Melanie Kitzan told the Tribune before the Thursday meeting she thought the council intended to discuss how the police chief would be performing more administrative duties because the council has decided to hire a fourth police office in its 2014 budget.

However, the topic didn’t come up during the meeting.

Kitzan said because a fourth officer position will be advertised, the intent is that the other three officers do patrol work and the police chief focus on administrative duties.

Reach LeAnn Eckroth at 701-250-8264 or leann.eckroth@bismarcktribune.com.

Copyright 2015 Bismarck Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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