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Police take pants ordinance seriously
Call it the pants patrol, if you will, but Brunswick police have issued three citations since the city this past November began enforcing an ordinance to prevent pants from sagging too far below the waist.

Commissioner James Brooks, who has since been suspended following an influence peddling indictment, originally brought a request to the commission this past July, when he said the city needed to have a tougher ordinance on sagging pants. Brooks could not be reached Monday.

The style that began in prisons and has been popularized by rappers features a baggy type of pants or shorts sagging below the waist, allowing undergarments to be seen.

Commissioners voted to amend the city's indecent exposure ordinance, allowing city police to cite individuals wearing pants or skirts more than 3 inches below the top of the hips, exposing skin or undergarments. The previous ordinance, adopted in November 2007, pertaining to indecency only applied if certain types of nudity were involved.

It took a little more than two weeks after the effective date of the ordinance before the first citation was issued, at 1:20 a.m. Nov. 23, on Glynn Avenue. Two other citations were issued this year. One incident took place at 6:45 p.m. March 28 on Tillman Avenue and another at 5 p.m. May 14 on Niles Avenue.

The fine is $25.

Brunswick isn't the first city in Georgia to pass this type of ordinance. Athens, Albany and Dublin have passed ordinances, and Moultire is considering a ban Albany has that took in almost $4,000 from citations in 2011.

Nationally, suburbs of Jacksonville, New Orleans, Chicago, Detroit and Miami have similar laws on the books. A town on the Jersey Shore, Wildwood, N.J., will vote on its ordinance Wednesday.

Some towns have received a backlash from state chapters of the American Civil Liberties Union, which maintains this type of law could be unconstitutional and could be a form of racial profiling.

"The bottom line is that there is an ordinance about this, and you can be given a citation," said Mayor Bryan Thompson.

He thinks it's making a difference. "I know the word travels pretty quickly when you start getting a $25 fine," Thompson said.

Just recently, Thompson spoke at Golden Isles Elementary and was asked about the ordinance by a student.

When the issue was first brought before the commission several years ago, Thompson didn't support it and thought it was frivolous, compared to problems the city faced in making it out of the Great Recession.

"I felt that we were already in people's pockets and didn't need to be in their pants, too," Thompson said.

But his concerns about the ability to enforce the ordinance were placated the second time around.

Still, he has a word of advice for anyone worrying about eradicating falling pants all together: "As soon as the girls decide it's not cool, it will stop," he said.

* Reporter Nikki Wiley writes about government, business and other local topics. Contact her at nwiley@thebrunswicknews.com, on Facebook or at 265-8320, ext. 321.



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