MPD Says Ordinance Enforcement Crucial

Meridian Police Chief James Reed says the city's 'saggy pants' ordinance is being more strictly enforced. The measure was approved by the city council and too effect in April 2011. Council members are still divided about its effectiveness.

Meridian became one of a growing number of municipalities in Mississippi to adopt such an ordinance.

The measure passed by a 4 to 1 vote. More than a year later, council members are still divided on the issue.

"I think the police have more things to do than telling people how to dress in public," said council president, Dr. George Thomas of Ward 1, who opposes the ordinance.

"I came upon a group one day and I asked the lady, I said, 'What's going on?' because I saw police were up there. Well, they had already found a young man with a gun and they were checking the other young men who were in that area," said Ward 2 councilwoman, Mary Perry, who supports the ordinance.

When it comes to addressing the problem of crime in Meridian, Thomas says police are not the problem.

"I think it's people behaving and obeying the law. I don't think it's a police problem, I think it's a people problem," said Thomas.

"We need more police, but that takes money," said Ward 5 councilman, Bobby Smith. "As far as crime and all the shooting here, I think you're fixing to see a little quietness to that."

Smith attributes that to efforts by the police department that he and other members of the council say are working.

Perry says one such example is the new police substation which opened two months ago in the George Reese Courts Housing Complex.

"They are policing that area more," Perry said. "One of the things they've done is that they've actually picked up some young people with guns in that area."

When it comes to curbing crime, council members agree that one key component is for residents to report crimes and suspicious activities to police.

The 'saggy pants' amendment to the indecent exposure ordinance was added to the city's indecent exposure ordinance. It states that pants cannot be worn any more than three inches below the waistline. Violators can face a fine of $200, if a citation is issued.