Ripley Mayor, police: Complaints triggered indecency ordinance

By Hank Wiesner/Southern Sentinel

RIPLEY – At their meeting Tuesday night, April 3, Ripley aldermen unanimously approved an ordinance prohibiting public indecency and indecent exposure. The ordinance takes effect 30 days from passage.

The ordinance is aimed at curbing the practice of wearing pants in public that hang very low on the hips, police said.

The ordinance makes it a misdemeanor crime to willfully perform any of a series of acts “in a place where a person could reasonable expect to be in view of the public,” according to the ordinance.

The ordinance bans:

–Acts or simulated acts of sexual intercourse or masturbation.

–Exposing the genitals.

–A lewd appearance in a state of partial or complete nudity.

–A lewd caress or indecent fondling of the body of another person.

–A lewd caress of indecent fondling of the sexual organs of any person, including oneself.

–Urination or defecation.

–Wearing pants, shorts or skirts more than three inches below the top of the hips (crest of the ilium), exposing the skin or undergarments.

According to the ordinance, offenders will receive a misdemeanor citation to Ripley Municipal Court. Conviction can bring a fine of at least $50 for a first offense. The fine can rise to a maximum of $200 for a subsequent offense.

In addition to the fine, Ripley Municipal Court may order the offender to take part in up to 40 hours of court-approved community service activities.

Said Mayor Chris Marsalis Monday afternoon: “This is an issue police have been dealing with for some time, and it was in the works before I came on. The police said passage of this ordinance would help them do their job. Many other municipalities have passed similar ordinances to enhance the protection of the populace.”

Police Chief Scott White said creation of the ordinance was triggered by “numerous complaints from the public about pants being worn too low.” He said he has few or no complaints about the other activities banned by the ordinance.