OCEAN CITY – Police Chief Bernadette DiPino provided an update to the Mayor and City Council this week as the department prepares for the upcoming summer season.
“When I became chief nine years ago, one of the long-term strategic plans was to utilize technology as much as possible,” she said. “Social media is a big deal in our society and we plan on using that in our law enforcement to help us support crime and help us be more proactive as crime approaches.”
DiPino said before the summer begins the department hopes to start using Skype, which is a service that allows users to communicate with peers by voice, video, and instant messaging over the Internet.
The service will allow citizens to contact the police department and be face-to-face with a police officer at the front desk to report a crime or simply ask a question.
The police department has also created a YouTube account and plans on filming public safety announcements, particularly directed towards high school graduates who visit Ocean City in June. The program is called, What Should Seniors Do (WSSD), and the police are partnering with businesses and government officials to make it happen.
“We are also looking to create an app for smart phones so people can report crimes,” DiPino said. “We are in the beginning process, so I don’t want to give too much away but be on the lookout for that in the future.”
Next, the chief gave Boardwalk businesses a heads up that the department, along with Zoning Administrator Blaine Smith, will be out and about enforcing town laws regarding Boardwalk businesses, for example, advertising on the boards.
“Our officers will be out there proactively making sure all the ordinances of the town are being followed,” she said.
DiPino added that the department is proactively making sure police officers will be visible on the Boardwalk this summer. Strategies include an auxiliary officer being posted at the information booth, having police officers posted on North Division Street, and having the Worcester Street Public Safety Building become more noticeable to the public as a place to report crime.
The chief proposed to the Mayor and City Council a way to put 49th Street businesses at ease over their concerns of pedestrian traffic in the roadway.
The street leads to Dumser’s Dairyland Ice Cream Parlor and Seacrets, but has 20 parking spaces on the road. The chief recommended removing the parking spaces and adding a passive barrier system. Also, she suggested moving the bus stop located in front of Dumser’s on Coastal Highway to the north.
“We know this may help pedestrian safety and make it safer there, and also make sure that people aren’t wondering all over other peoples businesses,” the chief said.
The council voted unanimously to approve the proposal.
The next item of business on the police chief’s agenda was to present an update of General Order 800 A-1, General Appearance Standards.
“This has been totally revamped, it is more specific and detailed than the original General Order,” she said. “The original General Order was maybe three quarters of a page long, it was very broad, and this gives more specific detail, for instance about the covering of tattoos, how your hair needs to be, the wearing of jewelry, it is very specific on the standards, and it is an effort to make sure our police department is professional and uniform, everybody has a similar type of appearance.”
The council voted unanimously to approve the updated General Order.
The last order of business was a presentation of the Quarterly Crime Report by Crime Analyst Brandon Reim.
In Ocean City, since the beginning of 2012, there have been 28 pending burglaries, three cleared burglaries, and three unfounded burglaries.
Next, he covered drug violations. There have been 51 marijuana, one powdered cocaine, one heroin and 14 prescription violations.
There has been one counterfeit incident, 12 sexual assaults, 48 domestic violence incidents, 37 assaults, 48 other thefts, 17 frauds, 15 thefts from autos, seven hotel thefts, eight bicycle thefts, five stolen autos, four peeping tom/indecent exposure, and two motor scooter thefts.