Missouri City Joins Campaign Against Saggy Pants

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Earlier this month, the Board of Aldermen in Pine Lawn, Missouri, voted to impose fines for wearing pants that sag below the waist, joining several other communities bravely fighting this scourge of modern society.

Pine Lawn is a small community of about 4,000 people, located in St. Louis County (just west of the city).  In the past it has suffered from financial problems and official mismanagement (see "The Little City That Couldn’t," Riverfront Times, July 5, 2006), but maybe that will change now that Pine Lawn has its priorities straight.  The new law prohibits pants worn below the waist if said wearing of low pants exposes undergarments or skin.  Offenders can be fined $100, with a $500 fine (or jail time) for parents who knowingly allow their children’s pants to ride low.

According to the mayor, Sylvester Caldwell, the ordinance was prompted by a group of developers who visited the city this summer, and apparently suggested that the city needed to "change its image."  He said the developers (who were not identified) specifically mentioned the issue of low-rise pants.  Caldwell said he has tried to deal with the problem informally — taking young people aside and asking them "Why do you sag?" — but to no avail.  Asked "What about plumbers?" local police chief Rickey Collins "chuckled" and said, "It’s the police officer’s discretion."

That’s one reason it might be unconstitutional, says the ACLU.  And because Pine Lawn’s population is overwhelmingly African-American, local ACLU director Redditt Hudson predicted the law might also be open to charges of racial profiling, if it were ever enforced.  Caldwell (who is also African-American) wasn’t worried.  "That’s what we have an attorney for," he said.

For now, the law is not really being enforced, other than as something for officers to cite when rousting offenders for "showing their behinds."  Collins said there would not be a "pants patrol," at least not anytime soon.  "We just want them to be mindful," he said.  "And if you come to Pine Lawn, pull your pants up."

Link: St. Louis Post-Dispatch