- The Washington Times - Friday, July 18, 2014

Belt sales may soon spike in Ocala, Fla., after the City Council voted to pass an ordinance that would criminalize low-hanging pants on city property.

Anyone caught wearing pants two inches below their natural waist in a way that exposes underwear or bare buttocks could face a fine of $500 and six months in jail, the Ocala Star Banner reported Wednesday.

The ordinance, passed Tuesday, has been proposed before but failed when the council members failed to second the motion.

Council member Mary Rich, who brought the ordinance forward both times, and is African-American, told Ocala Mayor Kent Guinn that some objected to the proposal over concerns that it would lead to racial profiling.

But now Ms. Rich says that the ordinance poses no threat of profiling because the fashion trend has been adopted by kids of both genders and all races.

“It doesn’t matter what color they are,” Ms. Rich said, the Star Banner reported. “They all wear their pants down.”

Mr. Guinn asked how police officers could measure the amount of sag to determine if it exceeds two inches below the waist. Saggy pants, he argued, are not like seat belts, which are either being worn or not, since a person could see an officer and pull their pants up.

“We’re not looking to charge people,” City Attorney Patrick Gilligan responded, adding that the police chief could tell officers to take a photo on their phone which a judge can use to make a decision on the offense, a second-degree misdemeanor.

The ordinance will be enforced on city-owned or leased property, according to the Ocala Star Banner. This includes city sidewalks, streets, parks, sports and recreation facilities, swimming pools, parking lots, public transportation, etc.

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