Saggy Pants 3/5/13

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 5, 2013

County finally hitches up its britches over new law

By Billy Davis

Panola Sheriff Dennis Darby handed out copies of a proposed “saggy pants” ordinance at the First District meeting held Monday in Sardis.

Supervisors agreed the ordinance would become effective May 1 after they vote to approve it next week at their Second District meeting in Batesville. 

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Board attorney Bill McKenzie told the Board of Supervisors he needs until next week to finalize a board order enacting the ordinance.

The ordinance is based on misdemeanor indecency laws, intended to crack down on men wearing — or barely wearing  — pants that hang below their waist, exposing their underwear.

Darby told supervisors last August that deputies would enforce a “saggy pants” law if the Board of Supervisors votes to enact one, and the issue seemed to die.

“We’ve been waiting on you,” Supervisor James Birge told the sheriff Monday.

The City of Batesville was drafting an ordinance at the same time last summer. That ordinance became effective last fall, based on an ordinance from Georgia that has withstood court challenges.

Supervisors agreed to follow the same fines imposed in Batesville, which begins with a $50 fine for a first offense. The fine rises if the pants stay down, and community service is an option.

Road manager Lygunnah Bean told supervisors he can’t recall anyone being fined in Batesville, a recollection that was seconded by McKenzie, who serves as municipal court judge.

“It does allow the police to say, ‘We’ve got a law, pull those britches up.’ So that’s helpful,” Bean said.

“It gives us a tool to talk to them,” said Darby. “And if they give us an attitude, then we can make an arrest.”