Under New Order, Ocean City Beach Cops are Not to Bother Topless Women

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Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Lacking clarification from Maryland’s top attorney, the Ocean City Beach Patrol has asked its officers to stand down if they see a woman going topless on the beach.

Eastern Shore TV station WBOC reported yesterday that a memo went out this week to all beach patrol officers to document, but not approach or confront topless women on the beach. Beach Patrol Capt. Butch Arbin told the station his department has always had the authority to tell women who sunbathe half-nude, “Hey, you can’t do that.”

However, that’s all in limbo now, thanks to a formal request for a review of the law called for by an activist from the Eastern Shore.

Chelsea Covington submitted her review request last fall. Covington advocates on a national platform for  allowing women to go bare-chested in public, saying it’s permitted under state equal protection laws. Basically, if men can do it, why can’t women?

“Guys can walk around without a shirt on when they get hot, and I have wanted, since I was a very young child, to be able do the same,” she said in a Q&A with VICE.

After Covington submitted her inquiry, Worcester County State’s Attorney took a look at the books. Per The Dispatch of Ocean City, he said he found the laws on indecent exposure and disturbing the peace are “a little vague” and couldn’t locate any case in Maryland to substantiate an argument against it. He sent a memo to Frosh, who has yet to provide any clarification.

Which brings us here. As Arbin explained to WBOC, “Since the Maryland Attorney General’s Office hasn’t issued their opinion on it, we don’t feel like we can tell people not to sunbathe topless.”

Depending on whether Frosh weighs in and what he says, Maryland’s most popular beach could have an unusually open vibe this summer.

Ethan McLeod
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Ethan McLeod

Associate Editor at Baltimore Fishbowl
Ethan is Baltimore Fishbowl's associate editor. He previously covered Baltimore-area news as a web producer for Fox45/WBFF-TV. Before arriving in Baltimore, he worked as an assistant editor for CQ Researcher in Washington D.C., and a reporter for Connection Newspapers in Northern Virginia. Look for his freelance bylines in Baltimore City Paper and DCist.
Ethan McLeod
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