July 21, 2008 in City

Chief to ACLU: Droop dead

By Ben Schmitt Detroit Free Press

FLINT, Mich. – Flint’s police chief isn’t backing off from his crackdown on saggy pants.

The American Civil Liberties Union said last week that today would be the deadline for Chief David Dicks to halt the stopping and searching of individuals with low-riding pants exposing underwear or bare bottoms.

Legal action may be forthcoming because Dicks said he isn’t changing anything.

“I’m going to keep on doing what I’m doing,” he told the Detroit Free Press on Sunday. “I guess I’m expecting a lawsuit,” he said, but there has to be a plaintiff.

Dicks pointed out that he has only issued warnings since implementing the policy June 27.

“I don’t see how a warning is a civil rights violation,” he said.

In the south Chicago suburb of Lynwood, village leaders have passed an ordinance that would levy $25 fines against anyone showing 3 inches or more of their underwear in public.

Lynwood Mayor Eugene Williams said young men walk around town half-dressed, keeping major retailers and economic development away. He calls the new law a hot topic.

Dicks said wearing pants below the waist is a violation of the city’s disorderly conduct ordinance and can give police probable cause to search saggers for other crimes, such as weapon or drug possession. He said exposing the buttocks is indecent exposure.

Both crimes are misdemeanors punishable by 93 days to a year in jail and fines up to $500, he said.

The ACLU is particularly troubled by the searches of saggers.

“Your new practice of stopping and threatening young men with disorderly conduct for wearing ‘saggy pants’ is a blatant violation of the United States Constitution,” the ACLU wrote to Dicks in a letter last week.

“Although you were recently appointed chief of the Flint Police Department, you cannot appoint yourself chief of the ‘fashion police.’ You have no power to criminalize a style of dress because you find it distasteful. We ask that you halt this practice immediately.”

The ACLU could not be reached Sunday.

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