Monday morning, Erica Masters was sleeping in her bed when
Columbia County Code Compliance Officer Jimmy Vowell came to serve a
violation notice for her grass being too long. Erica caught the whole
incident on tape.
"He let himself in and actually came through the house and into my
bedroom. And yelled at me to wake me up, to let me know that I needed to
come back outside and sign the violation notice."
Erica says she was freaked out seeing a stranger in her doorway.
"I woke up, I didn't have my glasses on or my contacts in and all I
see is this big burly figure standing in my doorway. A big huge guy with
a grey shirt. It scared the mess out of me."
After the incident, Erica called the Sheriff's Office to file a
complaint against Jimmy Vowell. The Columbia County Environmental
Compliance Manager, Mike Anderson, says he is aware of the complaint and
that his office is investigating it. He also went on to say that his
Code Compliance Officers cannot enter someone's home without their
permission, and that even if they had probable cause to enter, they
would still need to be escorted by a Law Enforcement Officer. Erica
feels as though her privacy was invaded by the county.
"I could have been coming fresh out of the shower. I mean, if I'm not
answering the door, maybe it's because I can't hear you because I'm in
She also worries about the safety of the man who served the violation.
"He didn't even have a concern for his own safety, walking into
someone's house, and just trying to get their attention when they could
very well be an armed and dangerous person."
Erica says she isn't sure if she's going to press charges against
Jimmy Vowell. For now, she's going to work on getting her lawnmower
"I do understand that my yard needs to be cut. I understand that. I
have no problem with that. I understand them having to serve a violation
notice, but the way they handled it was completely unacceptable."