OCEAN CITY — The Ocean City Police Department commented this week its desire to instill a local law establishing proper burial rules in the resort is part of a new best practice initiative and in no way is a direct result of a 2007 case in the resort.
OCPD spokesman Mike Levy told The Dispatch that although the infamous case where a local woman was charged and later cleared of murder charges after police discovered stillborn fetuses on her property would fall under the statutes of the new law, he noted that the law was not petitioned as a result of that case.
“The proper burial law is part of our new best practice initiative for public safety in the town of Ocean City, and falls under a number of topics, like the Salvia ban for instance, that we feel is vital to keeping the residents and visitors of Ocean City safe,” said Levy.
It was also revealed last week that measures were being taken on the state level to pass a similar law, as House Bill 12 was presented before the General Assembly this week, which if passed, would clearly lay out what is allowable by law in the matter of disposing of or burying a deceased body.
Levy said, however, that the department has a desire to have the local law be a bit more strict than the proposed state law, by including human remains in the ordinance, rather than merely singling out rules for bodies.
“We are very encouraged by what the state is trying to do in regards to mapping out what is allowable in properly burying bodies,” said Levy. “However, we would like to include human remains as part of our local ordinance as well.”
The house bill clearly states that the only legal place to dispose or bury a body would be a family burial plot, a crematory, a cemetery or a funeral establishment, and any individual found to be in violation of the potential law would be punished by way of a misdemeanor offense and no more than 1 year imprisonment, up to a $5,000 fine or both.
Ayres said last week that he plans to draw up the ordinance in the near future and present it at the Police Commission level for approval, before taking it to the Mayor and City Council for the required two public readings.
Currently, there is no local or state law that prohibits improper burial or disposal of a body, as was brought to light in the 2007 case in Ocean City, which saw the accused cleared of all charges on the basis that prosecutors couldn’t determine “proof of life.”