Opa-locka officials want the public to know they’re serious about enforcing their law against saggy pants.
After hiring new magistrate Christopher Benjamin, the city held its first set of hearings since January of this year to enforce the “no ifs, ands, or buts” ordinance. The magistrate job had been vacant for months.
Hired in November, Benjamin has been with the Barrister Firm in Aventura since 2002 and is a managing shareholder. His areas of specialization include commercial and foreclosure litigation as well as commercial and residential real estate transactions. He also has been a traffic hearing officer with Miami-Dade County Court since 2011.
Benjamin had 80 of these cases on the docket for his first day. Of those cases, 33 violators were fined $250, four will have to serve 10 hours of community service, 40 were reset for after the first of the year, and three were dismissed. He also heard code violation cases.
“We have gotten very aggressive with improving the city’s image,” said David Chiverton, assistant city manager.
Sponsored by Commissioner Timothy Holmes, the ordinance first went into effect in October, 2007 and forbade sagging pants in city buildings and parks. In September 2010, an amendment was added to include all businesses; then in December 2010 another amendment was added to include all public places in Opa-locka. The ordinance specifically states that no “underwear or undergarments be exposed.” Holmes said he was tired of seeing youth walking around the city with their pants hanging so low that their buttocks was showing.
“I was just trying to make the city standard’s better, to make Opa-locka look better,” said Holmes. “Some of these kids are respectful kids but they are still walking around with pants hanging down. It doesn’t make sense.”
Although it’s a fashion statement born of inmates and hip hop stars, it’s still extremely popular.
Ramsey Sanon, 27, was cited for sagging his pants and received 10 hours of community service. However, he thinks that the law should pertain to what he called the younger generation.
“What I did was not intentional,” said Sanon. “This law pertains more to the kids. With them it’s not about functionalism it’s about fashion. Maybe with this way they’ll learn their lesson.”
Opa-locka police Officer Robert Bell said, “It’s disrespectful and it’s a part of obscenity. But now more kids are being seen with pants up and buckled.”
Officer Edward Vega agreed.
“This law has made a big difference. Residents are happy and the kids know when they see us coming, they better pull their pants up,” Vega said. “I’ve even had other agencies ask me how we’re doing it because they want to do the same thing.”