If you were in the presence of a woman who ran a stop sign and refused to pay a ticket earned for doing so, would you feel so threatened that she needed to be naked to ensure that she was unarmed?
Police officers North Texas evidently felt so threatened by Sarah Boaz, a woman who was cited for running a stop sign, that they handcuffed her, stripped her down and booked her into jail when she failed to pay the ticket.
Boaz was arrested Wednesday morning because of her unpaid ticket. As she prepared to leave her home for work, the woman discovered that the Richland Hills City Marshal was waiting at her house with a warrant for her arrest.
“I’m like, nobody puts out a bench warrant after 60 days,” she told local media. “Why would you do that? You wouldn’t do that.”
When Boaz arrived at the jail in handcuffs, a female officer started giving her instructions undress.
Boaz said she remembered the officer saying: “’I’m going to need you to undress. I’m going to need you to stand against the wall. Please don’t step in front of this white box, or I’ll take that’… aggressive toward me. Obviously I am going to jail.”
The small town police jurisdiction reportedly has only one marshal and driving citations are handled quickly, unlike in larger cities where unpaid tickets might go unnoticed for months. Court officials in the town said two reminders were sent to Boaz, which she told CBSDFW she never got.
Furthermore, police in the town said that the woman was not subjected to a strip search, she was simply forced to undress.
They said in an emailed statement to local media: “She was given a dress out. Before they go into the cell they are taken by a detention officer of the same sex to a private room with no cameras. They have to remove all clothing and they are given a jumpsuit. The officer searches their clothes, at no time does the officer touch them.”
But a local attorney said the entire incident was an example of a police agency throwing common sense out the window in what is possibly a case of overly aggressive municipal government hungry for ticket revenue, especially since there is no law in the town requiring people with overdue driving tickets be jailed.
It was also noted by local media that individuals in cases similar to Boaz’s in the town are spared the humiliation of being stripped by officers once they are arrested if they immediately pony up the money for the fines they owe upon arriving at jail.