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Neighbors want added charge for profanity

Appear before council to ask about ordinance following April incident

Published: Wednesday, May 8, 2013 10:18 a.m. CDT

Residents of the Narvick Avenue neighborhood were back before the Morris City Council complaining about a neighbor’s behavior.

The couple, who asked not to be named, asked the council why the city is not charging the troublesome neighbor with public profanity when the city has an ordinance against it.

“Police officers are employees of the city . . . he shouldn’t talk to you that way, and he shouldn’t talk to your employees that way,” said the male neighbor.

“If he doesn’t have respect for (police officers) then he won’t have respect for anyone else,” he continued.

The female said her neighbor drove through her frontyard at 2 a.m. April 15, “on drugs and drunk and screaming profanity at the officers.”

When asked for information about people arrested in the early hours of April 15 in the vicinity of Narvick Avenue, Morris Police Chief Brent Dite provided the arrest report of Peter J. McGrath, 35, of Morris, who was arrested at the 600 block of Caisley Court.

McGrath was arrested April 15 for driving under the influence, possession of a controlled substance, resisting a peace officer, and criminal damage to property.

According to the case files, McGrath has pleaded not guilty to the charges and is due in court again next month.

Neighbors have been before the council complaining about McGrath’s behavior numerous times in recent months. Their concerns resulted in the city filing a case against McGrath for illegally operating an automotive business out of his home.

McGrath was found guilty in February of operating a business in a residential area, creating a nuisance, and violating the city’s business license ordinance.

The city does have an ordinance on profanity, stating “It is unlawful to use profanity on any street, alley or other public place in the city.” According to the ordinance, a person can be fined $100 to $700 for each offense.

The female of the concerned neighbors said McGrath should be punished for not obeying the city’s law, as well as the other charges for which he was arrested.

City Attorney Scott Belt and Dite said police officers cannot file charges for being alarmed or disturbed by behavior, or in this case profanity, like the public can.

“For disorderly conduct, you have to be alarmed and disturbed. We (as officers) cannot sign a complaint for disorderly conduct,” said Dite.

Belt continued that officers are legally incapable of being alarmed and disturbed. He said he and the chief would look further into the profanity ordinance.

The chief told the council the officers arrested McGrath with multiple serious charges that day.

In other city business, the council unanimously approved making no increases this fiscal year to the city’s water and sewer fees.

“A zero increase,” said Alderman Duane Wolfe, chairman of the Water and Sewer Committee.

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