A Florida city council has granted local law enforcement the powers of a fashion police after they passed a law banning the wearing of saggy pants in public.
Granting Cocoa Police the ability to control a dress code, yesterday the council banned pants that expose underwear or skin more than three inches below the waistline on streets, sidewalks and other designated city property.
Claiming that the law is to make sure the city of over 17,000 is known as a family orientated community, critics claim that it instead gives police the right to increase their stop and frisk under the guise of the new ordinance.
Those judged by the police to be wearing inappropriately hanging pants will be handed a civil fine of $25 for the first offence, $75 for a third and $100 for every time after that.
‘It’s our city leaders’ vision to try and clean up the look of the city, and this is one of the steps they are taking towards that,’ said Officer Barbara Matthews of the Cocoa Police Department.
While the Cocoa City Council sought a similar law in 2010, the attempt was dropped after constitutional court challenges were brought against other local councils that tried to ban saggy pants.
The law will not be enforced until January 1st so that the local community is prepared.
Critics of the measure have said that it could lead to racial profiling that those who wear saggy pants are automatically criminals.
‘This is nothing more than a vehicle for further harassment of young people,’ said Alberta Wilson, president of the Central Brevard Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
‘I don’t like the saggy pants anymore than you do, however, I respect people’s Constitutional rights.
‘As disgusting as it may be, that is his civil right to do so.’
However, confirming that the police will be using the new law as a means to increase their stop and frisk activities, Cocoa Police Chief Mark Klayman supported the move.
‘This would give the police officers the probable-cause stop,’ said Klayman to clickOrlando.Com
‘This could also be a measure to allow us to get drugs and guns off the street just based on this stop.’
Indeed, Officer Barbara Matthews said that when the new law comes into effect, it will be down to the police officer to decide who to fine.
‘If you are wearing your pants, and your underwear is showing, the length is three inches, we aren’t going to be out there with rulers or anything like that,’ said Matthews CFNews13
‘It’s going to be a discretionary call.’
The mayor and Police Chief Mark Klayman of Cocoa both said that the ordinance will improve the quality of life in the town.
‘Maybe this is something that does need to be addressed in our society,’ said Klayman to
The police chief added that it was potentially a tool for furthering law enforcement.
‘Just like you if you stop a car with a taillight out, it can lead to other charges,’ said Klayman to WESH.Com
Speaking of her concerns, Alberta Wilson said that the law could be the cause of dangerous confrontations.
‘I’m worried about enforcement, I fear a police officer getting some resistance and resorting to some means and doing bodily harm to a child,’ said Wilson to FloridaToday.Com.