OCEAN CITY – The Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) had a number of items to present at City Hall this week that all seemed to revolve around the same theme — retirement.
OCPD Chief Bernadette DiPino pitched a couple changes to the Mayor and City Council with the first being the sale of departmental firearms.
She explained that about two years ago the department began replacing an older model pistol, SIG SP2340, with the P229, which is a .40 caliber. Currently, the department has issued 57 of the newer pistols to its patrol division and in order to complete the transition it’s in need of another 20, at the cost of $609 each.
DiPino said this year’s budget allocated a little over $6,000 to purchase 10 of the P229 but the department is still in possession of about 37 of the older pistols. She proposed to place the SIG pistols for sale to the department’s officers who currently carry them, at the price of $250 each. The sale of the pistols would result in a profit of $6,250, allowing the department to purchase the 20 new pistols to complete the transition.
“To date, none of the new generation pistols have had any functional problems nor has there been any breakage of any type and the SIG line has been excellent in the history of our department with a two-week turn around and free repair of any faulty weapon,” she said.
DiPino added that the OCPD has also refurbished enough Beretta pistols to provide to officers as a retirement gift.
“It is a tradition that has been carried on for many years,” she said.
The Berettas will be given to those officers who are currently enlisted in the DROP Program and are scheduled to retire by January 2012. The gift is considered a win-win since the town is saving $300 in refurbishing costs, which will defray approximately half of the cost of a replacement duty weapon. It will also allow the department to rotate older pistols out of their stock, while replacing them for half the cost.
The second proposal was to change the name of a volunteer reserve officer to volunteer auxiliary police.
DiPino explained that the police department currently has a reserve officer program and has saved the Town of Ocean City millions of dollars through volunteerism.
“With the retirement of a number of our police officers, we felt that we have a group of individuals that we would like to bring back to assist us,” she said. “They still have the knowledge and expertise. They would just work on a part-time basis as opposed to full-time and many of them are willing to come back. They can maintain their certification and use their knowledge and expertise to help us with the future of the police department.”
DiPino said changing reserve police officers to auxiliary police officers is a more appropriate title because they are volunteers and they give back to the community but they are not sworn police officers, and by doing so the retired and part-time officers will become reserve police officers.
“Which is more appropriate because they are individuals held and reserved that we can pull from and that can assist us during special events,” she said.
The Mayor and City Council voted unanimously to approve the police department’s proposals.
Councilwoman Margaret Pillas pointed out that there are already retiring police officers willing to return to the police department as volunteer reserve officers.
“I hope this is a start to the program … so we are not losing all the experience and we have these officers willing to come back,” Pillas said.
Mayor Rick Meehan added that this is a responsible move in differentiating the reserve and auxiliary officers.
“We have all talked about our issues in regard to the number of officers that we have and how to keep those numbers up at the police department in order to provide the services that the community expects and deserves and I think this is a very resourceful way to do that,” he said. “This is a very efficient way to do it and it will allow us to continue to use the experience and expertise yet not at a full-time cost …. it is an excellent idea and I think it is going to be very beneficial to our police department moving forward.”
Last but not least, during this week’s meeting a handful of retirees from the OCPD were recognized.
Captain Victor Bunting retires after more than 37 years with OCPD; Lt. Robert Noll retires after more than 34 years of service; Officer Charles Bean retires after over 28 years of service; Officer Brasure Lynch retires after over 29 years of service; and Barry Neeb retires after 30 years.
DiPino, Meehan, Senator Jim Mathias and Delegate Mike McDermott individually recognized each of the retirees of their service and dedication.
Bunting is one of the longest serving members of OCPD. He supervised or commanded every division and unit within the OCPD. He was instrumental in establishing various specialized enforcement units and programs including mounted patrol, noise enforcement and the transit unit. He has also a key leader during the department’s transition from paper reporting to computerized records management and computer automated dispatching as well as established a comprehensive police employee evaluation system, super headed the computerized parking ticket program and provided OCPD with its first ever “Com Stat Model.”
Noll joined the police force in 1977. Prior to joining the department full time, he was a seasonal officer during the summers of 1974 and 1975. Following several promotions, Noll was promoted to the rank of lieutenant in 2004. He has served as a radar instructor and emergency vehicle operator driving instructor.
Bean joined the police department in 1983. He served in the patrol, training and traffic patrol divisions. He also completed special training in traffic enforcement, collision reconstruction, pedestrian crash and motorcycle reconstruction and biomechanics. Bean is the only ACTAR accredited re-constructionist on the Eastern Shore. Bean handled numerous traffic homicide cases over the years. His future plans include returning to work part time.
Lynch joined the department in 1982. He served in the department’s patrol division for over 14 years. He also served six years in the criminal investigation division, five years in the service division and four years in the narcotics investigation division. He was also assigned to the Worcester County Narcotics Task Force. Lynch received three special commendation awards along with five excellent performance awards and four unit citations. Lynch plans to continue as a part-time police officer.
Neeb joined the department full time in 1981.He is a two-time recipient of the Governor’s Award – Excellence in Crime Prevention and was recognized as Police Officer of the Year in 1988. In recent years, he has worked in training and recruiting for the Ocean City Police. Neeb plans to travel and work part-time with the OCPD.