An 82-year-old woman was arrested this week after failing to pay her rubbish services bill for three consecutive months over the summer.
Martha Louis Menefield was arrested on Sunday over the unpaid bills, police confirmed in a statement, causing outrage by the public.
Ms Menefield had been issued a citation in August by city code enforcement officers after having failed to pay the bills in June, July and August.
Before the citation was issued, officers attempted to contact Ms Menefield but to no avail, police said.
The elderly resident from Valley, Alabama, located about 80 miles northeast of Montgomery, was arrested on Sunday and later released on bond, according to a statement by Valley Police Chief Mike Reynolds.
The statement, posted on Tuesday, read: “Valley Police Department arrested Martha Louis Menefield, 82 years old of Valley, on the charge of Failure to Pay-Trash. She was processed at the Valley Police Department and then released on bond.”
The police report, which was shared on Facebook and has had over 1.8 thousand comments, gained criticism from outraged readers.
One said: “That is a seriously disgusting and hateful thing to do. What a shame officials think that this is okay.”
Another commented: “So we’re arresting the elderly for inability to pay for an essential service? I couldn’t imagine thinking that was the appropriate response to this situation”.
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A third said: “A disgusting abuse of power by the Court and the police. Did anyone talk to Miss Menefield to find out why she can’t pay the bill? How about helping someone instead of arresting them? What happened to serving the people?”
Before the arrest was made, officers tried to contact the Valley resident.
The statement added: “Prior to issuing the citation, Code Enforcement tried to call Ms Menefield several times and attempted to contact her in person at her residence.
“When contact could not be made, a door hanger was left at her residence. The hanger contained information on the reason for the visit and a name and contact phone number for her to call.”
The citation told the 82-year-old she was to appear in court on September 7, 2022, but she failed to show and a warrant for her arrest was issued.
According to the police chief’s post, Ms Menefiled had failed to pay for the services previously.
Her rubbish collection services were reportedly suspended three times over the past three years, while she has also had over 22 incidents of suspensions and revocations since 2006.
The statement said: “According to the Environmental Services, Ms Menefield has had her trash services suspended three times in the past two years for non-payment and records indicate that there have been over twenty-two incidents of suspensions and revocation of services since 2006.
“While our officers can use their discretionary judgment on certain matters, the enforcement of an arrest warrant issued by the court and signed by a magistrate, is not one of them. Ms Menefield was treated respectfully by our officers in the performance of their duties and was released on a bond as prescribed by the violation.”