Elderly Woman Arrested for Not Watering Lawn
An elderly woman in Orem, Utah, was arrested for, essentially, not watering her lawn.
A widow and grandma spent the morning in jail, arrested for refusing to give a policeman her name when he tried writing her a ticket for failing to water her yard. The woman hasn’t watered her lawn in more than a year, and the condition of her yard violates an Orem zoning ordinance.
When Betty Perry heard a knock at her door and saw a police officer standing outside, she never imagined she would end up in jail. That’s what happened, though, when the officer tried enforcing Orem’s nuisance ordinance against neglected yards.
“I didn’t want to tell him anything until I talked to a lawyer or my son. I wanted to see what he’d tell me to do. I’ve never had any experience before with the law, ever in my life,” she said.
As the enforcement officer started writing her a ticket, she tried going back in her house. That’s when the officer tried to handcuff her for refusing to give her name and resisting the ticket. She tripped on the steps, scraping up her nose and elbows, leaving blood on her door, her porch and her clothes. Perry was handcuffed, fingerprinted and put in a jail cell, where she sat for more than an hour.
“I laid down in there. I never seen the inside of a jail before. I didn’t know how it looked, I was really scared,” she says.
In fairness to the Orem Police Department, the article makes clear that once made aware of the situation, higher-ups did exactly the right thing–Perry was released and the officer is now on administrative leave. Still, one would think that an officer personally issuing citations for zoning violations would be trained to handle this situation better than “locking grandma up.” Not to mention that I’ve no doubt that this woman is telling the truth and simply cannot afford to water her lawn–surely this issue could have been handled in a more civilized fashion by the City of Orem than sending a cop to write tickets.
(link via Radley Balko)
UPDATE (James Joyner): Photo added from FOX report.