OCEAN CITY – Discussion over the Race for the Cure event to raise money for breast cancer continued this week during the Police Commission meeting yesterday, and the opportunity opened for comments to be made on the police department’s current hiring freeze.
Susan G. Komen’s Race for the Cure received a date hold for April 22, 2012 from the Mayor and City Council earlier this week to plan for the Race for the Cure event in Ocean City.
The proposed race route creates a loop moving down Baltimore Avenue moving east to the Boardwalk and returning to the Inlet for the finish.
In the event application, the Ocean City Police Department commented that the race route would have to include 40 to 45 officers on patrol for traffic and safety concerns on Baltimore Avenue. The department suggested moving the race route to the Boardwalk minimizing the amount of officers to five on duty for to patrol the event.
“We met a little resistance from the Komen people to moving the event up and down the Boardwalk,” Councilman Doug Cymek said.
The observation was made during the Mayor and City Council meeting that there wouldn’t even be 45 police officers available for the event in 2012, due to the hiring freeze placed over the department currently as the town is right sizing.
“I am concerned over the amount of officers we are down,” Cymek said. “And I am going to take this opportunity to inject that I hope we can get six in the academy in July.”
Council President Jim Hall said that the council has been working through the ordinances to reduce newly hired town employee pay and benefits in order to lift the hiring freeze.
“We can’t hire anyone right now,” Jim Hall said. “We don’t even know what their pay scale will be at this point.”
With the discussion approaching on the proposed ordinance to lower newly hired town employees’ pay and benefits coming up at next week’s Mayor and City Council meeting on Tuesday, Cymek asked the council president if the police department would be able to put six candidates in the police academy by July.
“I can’t tell you that yet,” Jim Hall said. “We have two more steps. We have the 401(k) and the employee pay … they are all scheduled. In 30 days, we should have everything squared.”
Cymek said that the law is in jeopardy if the council does not move to place candidates in the academy by July. Jim Hall responded that he did not agree with Cymek’s comment.
“I encourage you to allow officers to go into the July academy because if not at this time next year we could be down 20 officers,” Police Chief Bernadette DiPino said. “I have concerns about it and there would have to be changes in the way we operate. The level of service is going to have to change and that is the bottom line.”
DiPino pointed out that during the Fireman’s Parade the police department does use a large quantity of officers, similar to the amount the Race for the Cure event would need if it ran on Baltimore Avenue.
“I think the last parade we had down there [downtown] we used officers, reserve officers and volunteers,” Cymek said.
The last thing the commission wanted was for the event to be let go because a race route could not be agreed upon. Councilman Lloyd Martin said the town will just have to use their heads to make the event work.
There were suggestions of residential areas, or even to create a loop by using the Boardwalk with a pink stripe and moving the route east to the beach by creating some kind of walkway over the sand.