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Code Enforcement officer investigated for going into home uninvited

Posted: July 3, 2012 - 4:27pm  |  Updated: July 5, 2012 - 3:56pm

Twitter @ValerieRowell


The Columbia County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a Martinez woman’s claim that a county Code Enforcement officer walked into her home without permission.

The woman said she woke Monday morning to a man standing in her bedroom doorway.

The man was Code Enforcement Officer Jimmy Vowell, who was at the home to serve a violation notice because her grass was too tall. Having grass more than 12 inches tall is against the property maintenance county ordinance. It can breed pests and is not aesthetically pleasing, county Development Services Division Director Richard Harmon said.

“We were made aware of this (Monday),” county Administrator Scott Johnson said Tuesday. “We put Jimmy on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.”

The woman said she called 911, and was referred to Vowell’s supervisor, Environmental Compliance Manager Mike Anderson, Johnson said.

Even though a report was not filed with the sheriff’s office, Johnson said county officials asked the sheriff’s office to investigate the incident, which the woman captured on surveillance video at her home.

“Certainly it is an issue that is troubling,” Johnson said. “We feel it’s better to be safe than sorry.”

The video shows Vowell knocking on the woman’s door before walking into the house and then to the doorway of her bedroom.

The county policy on entering a home is to never enter a home without permission.

“(Policy) is the exact opposite,” Johnson said. “We don’t enter a residence without permission in code enforcement unless there are extenuating circumstances.”

Vowell was originally hired as an erosion and sediment control officer and has the necessary certifications. His job description changed to include code compliance during restructuring, Harmon said.

Vowell is a Level I Code Enforcement Officer certified by the Georgia Association of Code Enforcement through the University of Georgia. He also is scheduled for a Master class in August. Vowell also is retaking an exam he previously failed to receive an International Code Council Property Maintenance Code certification, Harmon said.

Sheriff’s office personnel are investigating the matter, including possible criminal charges. The investigation could be complete as early as Wednesday, Capt. Steve Morris said.

Harmon said Vowell went to the woman's home to serve a violation notice for not maintaining her grass because someone filed a complaint with the county.

"This wasn't the first time," Harmon said of complaints about the woman's overgrown grass.


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Comments (34)

Just My Opinion

Yeah, this is very odd. I

Yeah, this is very odd. I mean, she's got the video so there's no disputing what happened. I don't understand why she didn't call 911 instead of 311?? Did she know Vowell, and that's why? Is this the same Jimmy Vowell who worked as a Richmond County deputy for many years? Weird.


As Weird as The Groping Guy

Two strange cases. The breast groping guy and now this. We are going to H in a handbasket.



What's strange is that they will serve a violation on a homeowner for not mowing their lawn, yet a tree removal company/landscaping company located on North Belair Road at Pineland Drive can stockpile rock, bark, sand, and park trailers and trucks in front of this residentially converted home for office use in a professional zoning district and it is just overlooked and nothing done about it. Pick on the little people.


That Was Criminal

The man needs to be charged with unlawful entry into a home. For goodness sakes, he was at her bedroom. He is dangerous.



Why not first give out notices to all the contractors in Columbia County who have vacant lots and won't cut the grass on them in some high value sub divisions.


Maybe I am way out of the loop but I know I'm not the only one..

.what is 311?

Barry Paschal

311 is the county information service

311 is the county information service


Questions. I saw another

Questions. I saw another poster's comments and I saved them because I knew they would be removed. Some things you can't say, I realize that. Barry had to pull that post. But I'm going to follow-up in what I think is an acceptible way. Credits for the info go to the poster whose comments were removed.

Did Jimmy Vowell resign from the Richmond County Sheriff's department? What were the circumstances of his resignation?

Does he have the proper certifications as the other workers have to be a code enforcement officer? This seems very important after what happened.

Has he had other women complain of harassment?

Does he have a relative in some type of County role who can affect personnel actions?


Is he registered Republican?

Wow. Amazing what people will tolerate from government to get in a decent school system. Usually you have to call them out and point to the violations yourself. Grass exceeds height limit. And we have CC priorities? When was this an issue? Should we send in photos of three foot weeds for this man's successor?


Some homes, he would be dead

for home invasion. Good to know that CC can enter your home without a warrant or invitation.


I wonder if at his next

I wonder if at his next DJ'ing event will he play "Somebody's Knocking at the Door?"

Concerned Friend

Not the first time this

Not the first time this individual has a cloud over his actions.

Big Dawg

Concerned Friend

He had to resign

He had to resign after they a found a computer in his girlfriend's posession which came out of the evidence room at the Jail.

Big Dawg


seems strange to me that a

seems strange to me that a person can invest in high tech video surveillance security camera's, but can't fix a hundred dollar lawn mower to cut their grass, clean their house, or FIX THEIR FRONT DOOR!!! If I would have been a concerned neighbor I would have went in to check on the well being of the resident also....if you want your grass knee high MOVE TO THE COUNTRY!!! get your filth out of the neighborhood!!! I believe the officer was concerned for the well being of this resident.... i think her neighbors would agree.... leave this man alone and let him do his job!!! hell I know a teenage boy that would cut it for 10 bucks.... do something with your property when you decide to get out of bed!!!



Why don't YOU go mow her lawn

Why don't YOU go mow her lawn and not speculate!!


I couldn't have said it any

I couldn't have said it any better countz347. How about all of you shut your mouths until you have heard both sides of the story.


I couldn't have said it any

I couldn't have said it any better countz347. How about all of you shut your mouths until you have heard both sides of the story.


Yeah, I can't wait to hear

Yeah, I can't wait to hear HIS story of how he is inside a sleeping woman's house at her bedroom and caught on video.

Concerned Friend

Riverman, I agree with you,

Riverman, I agree with you, this ought to be good, sure will like to hear him explain this one. No answer at the door, so just go on in and do whatever you want, lol!

Big Dawg


It's just a weird case....

It's just a weird case....


I live in the "country" and I

I live in the "country" and I keep my doors locked at all times. Maybe it's a leftover habit from residing in South Augusta.
I'm curious as to how many times he made an entrance into a home without being video taped-and if anything was missing. I bet his nose starts growing when he explains his defense.
I 'm glad I don't have a "concerned neighbor a.k.a. nosy neighbor" speculating about my lawnmower or whether I keep my house clean - or what time I get out of bed.


One side of it...

As someone who knows the woman, I happen to know she recently got discharged from the military for medical reasons. So perhaps it's likely that she bought the cameras before the discharge, and now the lawnmower broke while she has no income at all? Hmm...

And I'm not quite sure how not mowing your lawn makes you the local "filth"


Odd response

Wait a second... Countz347, how would you know if her house was dirty? Have you personally been in it? If so I'm willing to bet you're Jimmy Vowell...


Yes, it was odd

Trying to blame his behavior on the woman is strange. How does this commenter know how her house looks on the inside? Don't cut your grass and you end up with a strange man at your bedroom door while you sleep? Show me where that's the punishment for any kind of code violation. I'm still puzzled why there are no criminal charges?


Really She Should File Charges

Cops on TV use bait cars with unlocked doors and keys in the ignition. Just because her door wasn't locked doesn't mean he can enter. That's illegal entry, criminal trespass, at the least. She should file criminal charges against him...especially after some of the comments here.


Let's look at the

Let's look at the commissioner's minutes and find out when the restructuring occurred. January 2010, and he hasn't passed his certifications yet? I think there is a lack of leadership.


Hey Dennis and Jerry its sad

Hey Dennis and Jerry its sad that you have to resort to such comments about a coworker. Jealous much? Since y'all have nothing better to do, my grandmother knits blankets. Would you like to join her? By the way don't be calling my relatives at work harassing them.


Did she say "come in" before

Did she say "come in" before he entered. Who shot the video? Was he not aware of a security system if that was the case.
Sorry! I don't get it.


I'm not an agricultural

I'm not an agricultural expert but I'm pretty sure tall grass can not breed pests...


ok " i know nothing " ,

ok " i know nothing " , merriweather123, and riverman, i do not claim to be mr. vowell.... nor do i claim to ever have been in the house.... although i do have a friend that IS a neighbor... and they know pretty well what happens in THEIR neighborhood.... i am sick of you absent minded people protecting those who bring columbia county's property values DOWN....now if yall want to be south side people as you say then go jump in the river with "riverman" and float back down to the southside... maybe yall will get enough of the stinch then and decide to be a little more responsible with your property..... i can only assume that yall must live in the same conditions..... just keep sucking the life out of columbia county until you finally do create another "SOUTHSIDE".... sounds like yall have a personal problem with mr. vowell , otherwise yall would get on board with columbia co. to keep your neighborhoods clean....by the way I do pay to have my lawn cut EVERY week during the summer so I dont have to...you want to protect her so much maybe you should drag your mower there and make us all happy...... you obviously have nothing better to do......(moderated)!!!