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MERRILLVILLE | Some people are flashing a little too much underwear as far as town leaders are concerned, so they'd like to take a crack at regulating how low pants are allowed to be worn from the hip.

If the suggestion advances, Merrillville would be the first municipality in the state to adopt such regulations, Town Administrator Howard Fink said.

Illinois and Florida have approved similar restrictions, Fink added.

Merrillville leaders said low-riding pants are inappropriate, so they are proposing an ordinance that would not allow people to wear their pants more than 3 inches below the hip in public places.

Town Councilman Don Spann said he has seen multiple people walking along the street with their pants hanging around the buttocks.

Spann said he has talked to residents, who support the proposed ordinance.

Ordinance violations could result in fines, Fink said, but violations would not be considered a criminal offense.

Councilman Ron Widing said he is concerned the proposal could be viewed as unconstitutional.

"I don't know how we can tell anyone how to dress," Widing said.

Fink said he has not seen constitutional challenges to similar ordinances approved in other states.

Council President Shawn Pettit said, "I think it looks terrible" when people wear their pants low, but he also has concerns about the legal aspect of restricting how people wear their pants.

He suggested town leaders should consider revising the plan so it only would apply to town-owned property, such as Town Hall and park facilities, instead of creating a restriction throughout the entire town.

Some town leaders think parents should be responsible for ensuring their children are appropriately dressed, instead of putting that burden on the town.

Spann said children aren't the only people contributing to the issue. He said he has seen adults wearing their pants below their buttocks in Merrillville.

The town's proposal was tabled Tuesday, but Fink said Merrillville leaders will continue to review the possible ordinance.

 

Editor's note: This story has been corrected from an earlier version.

A story in Thursday editions regarding a proposed sagging pants ordinance should have identified Merrillville's town administrator as Howard Fink.

The Times regrets the error.

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