Sam Penrod Reporting
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.
Tonight, the woman says she is traumatized and shocked that she was hauled to jail, just because she says she can't afford to water her lawn.
Betty Perry says, "I never thought they would ever do anything like that to a person that is 70 years old. I've never bothered anybody, I've never hurt anybody."
She says the policeman who brought her home tonight was very courteous, even held open the door for her. But there were no gentlemen there when she was taken from her home this morning and booked into jail.
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.
When police brass learned what happened, she was immediately released.
Orem police spokesman Lt. Doug Edwards said, "Every officer in his career has situations they find themselves getting into, at the end of it they scratch their head and say, ‘gosh, how did this happen?' Today, I think, was one of those days. Clearly there were some other options available."
After being arrested, Perry is now scared of the police. She says, "Don't ever say no when the police tell you do to something. You better do what they tell you no matter what, even if you don't have anybody to help you. You've got to do what they tell you or they will hurt you."
The officer was sent home for the day and placed on paid administrative leave. Police are not pressing any charges against Betty Perry for either neglecting her yard or resisting the ticket.