Lincoln City Council Member Resigns After Police Chief Controversy


Lincoln City Council member and police department portfolio holder Reed Unterseher resigned his seat effective Dec 31, 2013, according to a letter received from the city via open records request today. The request was submitted by an SAB reader after he reviewed the agenda for the city council’s first meeting of the new year tonight. Unterseher’s vacancy is listed as a discussion topic.

Unterseher was re-elected to a new term in June 2012. The full resignation letter is below.

While not specifically stated in Unterseher’s letter, it’s clear this resignation is related to the firing of former Police Chief Marcel Sim. As was covered in SAB last month, Sim had been fired by the council in a 3-2 vote (Unterseher and City Council President Karen Daly voting to retain Sim) on Oct 28 due to, in the words of Mayor Bob Johnston, “credibility concerns.”

The basis of these concerns, according to Johnston, surrounded a Domestic Violence Protection Order (DVPO) put in place in Sep 2013 by Sim’s wife.

McLean County States Attorney Ladd Erickson informed Burleigh County States Attorney Richard Riha in a letter dated December 10th that no evidence of criminal conduct – specifically child abuse – by Sim existed, and that he was closing the case against Sim without filing charges. Erickson investigated the case because of potential conflict of interest concerns with the Burleigh County States Attorney’s office due to Sim’s employment as a police officer and police chief in Lincoln.

While not part of Erickson’s investigation, Sim’s wife also alleged a threat was made against her by Sim in 2010, but police were never called and no records or other evidence exists substantiating this allegation.

SAB readers will remember Mayor Johnston has his own credibility concerns regarding the police chief issue. As revealed here on SAB back in December, he chose to vote (rather than abstain himself from, despite clear conflict of interest) on the matter of dismissal despite the fact that his two children had been arrested by Sim, including his son who fought his DUI conviction up to the State Supreme Court; claiming a bicycle doesn’t count as a vehicle for purposes of DUI laws.

He lost that case.

Unterseher’s resignation letter cites “ongoing concerns and strong disagreement with how certain decisions and meetings have been conducted,” though the nature of these concerns and disagreements isn’t mentioned.

“The City of Lincoln both requires and deserves the best leadership available, Untersher wrote in his letter. “I do not feel that I am capable of providing it in the cities current governmental environment.”

Lincoln Combined by Rob Port