City Council News Briefs

OCEAN CITY – In a regular session of the Mayor and City Council Monday night, a variety of topics were addressed and voted on. The following is a brief look at issues:

New Appointments

Chris Shanahan, co-owner of K-Coast Surf Shops, was appointed to serve as a member of the Planning and Zoning Commission.

Walter “Buck” Mann, of Mann Properties and former City Council member, was named to the Labor Commission.

Beach Franchise Extension Fees

The City Council voted unanimously to pass, on first reading, an ordinance to amend Chapter 39, entitled Franchises, which will adopt penalties for beach franchise fee payments.

The fee payments will act as a penalty for beach franchise operators that make late payments. In a work session of the Mayor and Council last week, the Beach Mediation Board recommended that a penalty of 5 percent of the unpaid balance be due if the payment is made within one to seven days of the due date. A 10-percent penalty of the unpaid balance will be required if the payment is made within eight to 14 days of the due date. The Board suggested that payments pending beyond 14 days of the due date would require a hearing before the Mayor and Council.

Eyewitness ID Policy

The City Council passed a General Order tightening the policy on eyewitness identification Monday night despite reluctance from at least one council member.

The General Order reads, “Eyewitness identification is one of many tools used by law enforcement in the investigation of crime. This investigative tool is vigorously challenged by defense attorneys. Therefore, it is critical that eyewitness identification be conducted in a professional, structured manner, and supported by written documentation and physical evidence.”

The General Order also outlines the policy for eyewitness identification. According to the policy, police must avoid any suggestive actions during the eyewitness identification process and “all eyewitness identification must be conducted in a structured, professional manner designed to clear the innocent as well as identify suspects.”

The policy also calls for investigations to not conclude or cease based on eyewitness identification and calls for all identification or non-identification to be put into writing.

“I don’t think it’s in the best interest of the [police] department to have it,” Councilmsn Jay Hancock said, pointing out that the policy was not beneficial to the OCPD, but that the legislation had left with them with no choice. Hancock maintained that while he didn’t agree with the General Order, he would support it for the police department for now.

The City Council voted unanimously to approve the General Order.