Claiming that he was acting on a "significant" number of citizen complaints, the police chief for Flint, Michigan, said on June 25 that he had directed officers to start arresting people seen wearing pants and/or shorts that sag "too low."
Flint thus joins cities in Missouri, Georgia, and Louisiana, among other places, in the battle against the continuing low-pants menace.
While some states and cities have tried and occasionally succeeded in passing laws or ordinances specifically directed at this issue, Acting Police Chief David Dicks said that he would rely on the existing disorderly-person ordinance. A violation of that law is a misdemeanor that can result in punishment of up to $500 and three months in jail. Dicks said that treating this conduct as "disorderly" was justified because of an element of "immorality": "This immoral self expression goes beyond free speech," he said in a statement. "It rises to the crime of indecent exposure/disorderly persons." The chief issued a memo telling officers they should now consider "sagging/exposing buttocks" to be probable cause for an arrest.
As in other cities addressing the issue, ACLU attorneys worry that the restrictions may violate the First Amendment, the NAACP worries that the chief’s orders may equate to racial profiling, and plumbers worry that they will be swept up in the anti-cleavage furor. "I’m not interested in looking at anyone’s underwear," said Frances Gilcreast of the NAACP. "My concern is how [the policy] will be applied equitably." A representative of the Flint Police Officers Association said that he did not think the chief’s memo would have much effect on law-enforcement practices.
In a poll on the Flint Journal’s website, opinion was running 51-48% against the new initiative. "Flint sucks, 3rd highest crime rate in the country and this idiot is worried about some butt cheek," commented one citizen. On the other hand, said a supporter, "[w]e need to start someplace."
Link: Flint Journal