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.

[…]

Betty Perry Lawn Woman 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.

FILED UNDER: Alex Knapp, Law and the Courts, ,
Alex Knapp
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Alex Knapp writes about pretty much everything under the sun, including politics, art, religion, philosophy, sports, music, culture, and science.

Comments

  1. cirby says:

    …and, of course, in many parts of the country, you get fined (sometimes heavily) for watering your lawn too much…




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  2. Dave says:

    Thats what I was thinking. In some parts of the USA she would be called a model citizen for not watering her lawn. One of her nice neighbours must have logged a complait in the first place.




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  3. Russell says:

    What about this……..Don’t believe everything you read in the paper.

    The property has been a serious problem for quite some time. The neighbors have been complaining for years, demanding action. When the officer went to the house, the woman flat out refused to follow the City Statutes. She then refused to give her name or any other information. She was combative and even pushed her way passed the officer. When he grabbed her arm to keep her from running into the house, because he wanted to give a citation, she flipped out and absolutely went nuts. At that point, no question it would have been better to find a way out of it, but the woman gave him very little choice.

    The officer could have used a little better judgement—looking hindsight I guarantee he’d agree. But I promise that if the lady was younger—–your age maybe—-no one would care.

    In your above comment, you say “THERE IS NO DOUBT” the woman is telling the truth………You need to open your mind to a “shadow of a doubt”, because I know that woman personally!

    To finish………don’t focus so much that it was her dry lawn that caused this. Think about the fact that the problem was exponentially more than just a dry lawn, that even prompted the officer to respond.




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  4. Michael says:

    That incident even made it to the local newspapers in Germany!




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  5. Steve Verdon says:

    In your above comment, you say “THERE IS NO DOUBT” the woman is telling the truth………You need to open your mind to a “shadow of a doubt”, because I know that woman personally!

    Actually Russell, Alex wrote that he did not doubt that the woman was telling the truth about not being able to afford to water her lawn, not that he didn’t doubt all aspects of her story.

    When he grabbed her arm to keep her from running into the house, because he wanted to give a citation, she flipped out and absolutely went nuts. At that point, no question it would have been better to find a way out of it, but the woman gave him very little choice.

    The officer could have used a little better judgement—looking hindsight I guarantee he’d agree. But I promise that if the lady was younger—–your age maybe—-no one would care.

    Yes and the most obvious was to find out who lived there (county records and all that you know) write the citation and then mail it to her. Grabbing her was unneccesary and stupid. The cop deserves what he’s getting. I have no sympathy for him.




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  6. Bithead says:

    That incident even made it to the local newspapers in Germany!

    Well, that’s OK; the “smelly feet” thing started in Germany and made the papers here.

    That’s fair trade!




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  7. Steve Plunk says:

    It disturbs me that a civil dispute turned into a criminal arrest because the elderly woman did not submit to the authority of a police officer while on her own property. She posed no threat to the officer or anyone else when refusing the citation.

    We can blame the officer involved but we must also blame modern police training. Officers are taught to control and intimidate when dealing with the public, treating all citizens as potential threats and criminals. It has to stop.

    The verbal and physical intimidation training will continue to lead to simple disagreements becoming arrests or violent conflicts when completely unnecessary.




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  8. We can blame the officer involved but we must also blame modern police training. Officers are taught to control and intimidate when dealing with the public, treating all citizens as potential threats and criminals. It has to stop.

    I think that there is clearly something to this–and it is disturbing.




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  9. floyd says:

    If their are any lovers of liberty in Orem, they ought to gather at the courthouse for the purpose of “watering” the lawn! [And maybe fertilizing it too]




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  10. angelweave says:

    Water! Now! Stat!…

    What? A woman’s been arrested for not watering her lawn? IN AMERICA! Brian and I better not answer our door. Not sure we’ve EVER watered our lawn. If you don’t water it, it doesn’t grow as quickly. The woman lives in Orem, UT – bet they’ve got an …




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