Residents of a Tennessee city may soon have to pull their pants up.
The Chattanooga Times Free Press reports that the City Council of Pikeville, Tenn. has approved an ordinance that penalizes anyone who is guilty of public indecency, which includes wearing sagging pants.
According to the law, anyone wearing jeans or other bottoms “more than three inches below the top of the hip (the crest of the ilium)” will be fined at least $25 for the first offense and $5o for offenses thereafter.
“The exposure of a person’s buttocks and genital area or undergarments is offensive and indecent,” the ordinance states.
While state law prohibits public indecency, it does not ban sagging pants, the Times Free Press reports.
City Mayor Phil Cagle told the newspaper that he doesn’t want the ordinance to be seen as singling out the problem of “sagging britches.”
“Myself and the City Council, we wanted an ordinance passed in black and white that our officers know what to tolerate and what not to tolerate,” he said. “Now they know what we expect, and they know how to handle it.”
The Times Free Press reports, however, that the main difference between state law and the new ordinance is the inclusion of language outlawing the exposure of “skin or undergarments” by wearing “pants or skirts” too low.
The ordinance also states that wearing pants too low is damaging to a person’s health because it “causes improper gait.”
Several municipalities in states like Georgia, Louisiana and Alabama have already passed similar legislation.
The trend of wearing baggy or sagging pants is believed to have originated in prison where inmates are not allowed to wear belts so they can’t hide weapons. The style became popularized in the 1990s.
“All I know is we just don’t want them running around half naked on our streets,” Cagle said about the ordinance. “That’s the bottom line.”
Pikeville’s city charter requires three readings of an ordinance before it passes, and Cagle said it would probably be another couple of months before the law goes into effect.