Beaufort County could consider ‘saggy pants’ ban

cconley@islandpacket.comDecember 2, 2012 

Sagging pants might be a crime against fashion, but should wearing them also be against the law?

Beaufort County Councilman Gerald Dawson has proposed the county consider new rules targeting trousers that hang too low.

“Jasper County Council some time ago passed a dress code ordinance to deal with inappropriate public dress,” Dawson said. “What I’d like for us to do … is take a look at this ordinance and see if this is an issue we want to address.”

Beaufort County public schools already have a policy requiring students to wear their pants at the waist.

Outgoing County Councilman Herbert Glaze, an assistant principal at Beaufort High School, said the saggy pants problem isn’t as bad as it once was, but it remains an issue.

“You have to sometimes remind [students] where their waistlines are,” said Glaze, who lost the Democratic primary to Dawson.

Glaze supports a countywide dress code ordinance because, he said, it would create expectations in and out of school.

Jasper County’s 2008 ordinance could be a template for Beaufort County. It bars people from wearing pants that hang three inches or more below the hips, showing one’s skin or “intimate clothing.”

Parents who allow their minor children to appear that way in public also could be cited under the ordinance. Fines range from $25 to $500 for each violation.

Jasper County Councilman LeRoy Blackshear introduced the measure “to bring some decency to the citizens of the county and help the young men who dress that way to update themselves,” he said Thursday.

Since passage, the measure hasn’t made a difference, he said, because it’s not being enforced.

Indeed, Jasper County Administrator Andrew Fulghum said the Jasper County Sheriff’s Office has not issued any citations for sagging pants. Attempts to reach Sheriff Gregory Jenkins for comment were unsuccessful.

Dawson said he raised the issue after being approached by a resident of his northern Beaufort County district. For now, he advocates only a “discussion” of the issue.

Other councilmen were receptive to Dawson’s proposal last week.

Councilman Steve Baer said he is “neutral to slightly positive” on the concept, noting that he needs to “hear a lot more” details before he could support it.

“I’ll stay open-minded on it. I think people act the way they look,” he said.

Blackshear, who introduced Jasper County’s ordinance, said Beaufort County should make sure police and the sheriff are prepared to enforce whatever is passed.

“If they are not willing to enforce it, they are just wasting time,” he said.

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