Cocoa ordinance outlaws 'saggy pants'

City Council votes 3-1 on ordinance

ORLANDO, Fla. - It will soon be against the law to wear saggy pants in Cocoa, after city leaders voted to ban the fashion trend, despite public opposition.

The saggy pants ordinance passed 3-1 Tuesday evening, making it illegal to wear clothing that shows underwear or skin three inches below the waistline.

While many people who commented publicly in Tuesday's meeting agree the fashion trend is distasteful, some fear creating a law to govern how people dress violates civil liberties.

"This is nothing more than a vehicle for further harassment of young people," a woman said.

The ordinance carries a $25 fine on the first offense. No one can be arrested for violating the baggy pants ordinance, but it gives police a reason to stop people for probable cause, and then arrest them for some other crime. Local police said it will help stop crime.

Cocoa Police Chief Mark Klayman supports the ordinance and considers it an opportunity to confront individuals on the street.

"This would give the police officers the probable-cause stop," Klayman said. "This could also be a measure to allow us to get drugs and guns off the street just based on this stop."

However, people opposed to the idea said the new ordinance tramples people's rights and gives local police a reason to profile.

"Unfortunately, I don't have the trust in our Cocoa PD to believe that they would not be selective in their enforcement," another woman said.

City leaders say police will have time to train how to properly enforce the law and there will be public education before it takes effect Janurary 1, 2013.

Others questioned the basic principal of the law altogether, saying lawsuits are sure to follow. Even the city council's study states no major city has passed a similar ordinance, only small cities have passed them, and sometimes there are legal battles that result.

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