Sam Penrod Reporting The arrest last Friday of an Orem woman who refused to give her name to a police officer patrolling for neglected yards is now making national headlines, and the public outrage is growing.
The officer involved was back at work today, although he is on desk duty until an independent investigation is over, but this case won't be going away. The woman he arrested has enlisted the help of Los Angeles attorney and high profile activist, Gloria Allred.
On Friday Betty Perry said, "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."
That is what she told us after she was arrested and put in a jail cell for an hour. The officer was trying to issue her a ticket for a zoning violation for not watering her lawn, but when she refused to give her name to the officer and tried to go back in her house, she was handcuffed and arrested.
Orem Police say the officer is back at work doing desk jobs, but not on patrol until an independent investigation by the state is completed.
Perry and her son have contacted LA attorney Gloria Allred, known for representing Amber Frey in the Scott Peterson murder trial and criticizing music star Michael Jackson. KSL talked to Allred on the phone tonight. She says at this point, she is supportive of the Perrys as a victim right's advocate.
"I think there should be an independent and thorough investigation of this matter, and until such time as that thorough and independent investigation is completed, I think the officer should remain on administrative leave," she said.
At tonight's Orem City Council meeting, the council and mayor issued a statement to try and calm the public outcry. "We have been to visit Mrs. Betty Perry and have apologized to her for what happened and for all the discomfort and embarrassment it has caused. We will be assisting with some of her yard problems."
Perry's son told me today his mom is still suffering from emotional trauma.
The entire statement from the mayor and city council
"There has been a tremendous outpouring of concern regarding the arrest of an Orem citizen, Betty Perry, where press reports indicated she was arrested for failure to cooperate with an Orem Police Officer issuing a citation related to her lawn watering and yard maintenance. She was handcuffed and taken to jail. We, like you, were shocked and dismayed upon learning of this incident. This is not reflective of our community or our Public Safety Department procedures. It is an isolated incident.
We have been to visit Mrs. Betty Perry and have apologized to her for what happened and for all the discomfort and embarrassment it has caused. We will be assisting with some of her yard problems, including immediate fire hazard weed abatement.
Steps have been taken to rectify the situation. We have requested an independent investigation of this incident by the Utah State Department of Public Safety, which is currently underway, following which a thorough review and determination will be made as to appropriate action, including personnel, departmental and ordinance.
Again we apologize for this incident, first to Mrs. Perry, and then to all others who have been alarmed and incensed by it. Please know that we will deal with it directly and thoroughly.
Orem City Mayor, City Council