Ocean City Today

‘Disorderly’ signs can’t hurt and could help

Jul 13, 2017



(printed 07/14/17


The one thing that Ocean City wouldn’t appear to need is more signs telling people what they can’t do.

Going back to the 1970s, one of the funnier pictures published locally was of a “No” sign in what was then mostly undeveloped north Ocean City.

The photo showed the standard “Welcome to Ocean City” notice followed by a list of prohibitions — no drinking, no sleeping in cars, no vehicles on the beach and others. At the bottom, someone added in big letters, “No Fun.”

Years later, the mayor and council made room for a final line, “YES, Have Fun!

More recently, the city erected “No Profanity, Please” signs along the Boardwalk, and now it will enforce an ordinance that requires owners of most properties facing Coastal Highway and Baltimore and Philadelphia Avenues to post signs reminding the public that disorderly conduct is against the law.

Even though the public should already know that, these advisories are an attempt by local government to squelch the extreme boisterousness that has become a growing part of the resort’s annual car events.

Whether this approach will discourage bad behavior depends, to some degree, on the composition of the crowd itself. The anti-profanity signs, for instance, aren’t likely to imbue clods, louts and ignoramuses with a heightened sense of respect for others. Similarly, hooligans aren’t likely to reform suddenly because it’s the smart thing to do.

But that doesn’t mean putting up these disorderly conduct signs is the wrong thing to do.

True, the police don’t need signs to make breach of peace arrests, because state law already gives them that authority. What these warnings might do, however, is help maintain order where the police aren’t.

Between 200,000 and 300,000 people are spread out through town during these car rallies, while Ocean City has no more than 200 officers on the force. Further, not every member of the department can be on patrol, and even with help from other agencies, the police cannot monitor every block and intersection for excessive rowdiness.

It’s simply a matter of numbers, so if these signs can help even a little, there’s no reason not to have them up and ready by September.

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