OCEAN CITY — The town of Ocean City announced this week it has hired its new police chief, a high ranking veteran with the Baltimore City police force.
Ross Buzzuro will fill the void created when Police Chief Bernadette DiPino retired late last year and took a similar position in Sarasota, Fla. In the wake of DiPino’s departure in December, the town of Ocean City initiated a national search for a replacement, which resulted in a field of 86 candidates, including two of the current captains who have served as acting chiefs this year.
Through an extensive interview and review process, that list was cut from 86 to 36 and then down to 13 and ultimately down to six candidates, who were scheduled to interview with the Mayor and Council last week. Before that process, however, one of the six withdrew, leaving five finalists to interview with the town’s elected officials. Among the final five were current OCPD Captains Kevin Kirstein and Michael Colbert. A third OCPD captain, Greg Guiton, who is currently acting chief, did not apply.
The five finalists met with the Mayor and Council last Thursday and Friday, but no immediate decision was made. The council on Monday in a single vote offered the position to Buzzuro, a no-nonsense career police officer with a reputation for organization and professionalism. The final vote was nearly unanimous, although it was apparently a blind vote, so none of the councilmembers knew for whom the others were voting.
Buzzuro began his career in law enforcement in 1985 as a police cadet in Baltimore City. He quickly worked his way through the ranks, serving as a sergeant, detective lieutenant, deputy major, major and eventually lieutenant colonel in 2007. Most recently, he was commander of the city’s northern district, acting as one of just two area commanders in the Baltimore police department.
At different points in his career in Baltimore, Buzzuro has served as a commander in the department’s special enforcement section, patrol division, criminal investigation division and internal investigations division. Earlier this year, he took over as commander of Baltimore’s police academy after an accidental shooting revealed management problems. In 2011, Buzzuro was honored for helping to save the life of a runner in Baltimore’s half-marathon, who suffered cardiac arrest 200 yards from the finish line.
Buzzuro is a graduate of the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) national academy and the University of Maryland’s Fire and Rescue Institute. He has a bachelor’s and master’s degree in management from Johns Hopkins University.
“On behalf of the City Council, I am very pleased to welcome Chief Buzzuro to Ocean City,” said Mayor Rick Meehan. “We had a number of very qualified candidates apply for this position and this was a very tough decision to make. However, Chief Buzzuro’s knowledge, experience and leadership stood out amongst the rest. I am confident he will be a great asset to the citizens in the community, the members of the Ocean City Police Department as well as the future of Ocean City.”
As chief, Buzzuro will oversee the department and its nearly 100 full-time officers, 100 seasonal officers and roughly 20 civilian employees. In addition, his responsibilities will include developing and implementing law enforcement initiatives and crime prevention strategies, creating organization and community partnerships, overseeing operational commands and managing a multi-million dollar budget.
Councilman Doug Cymek, a member of the town’s police commission, said this week Buzzuro distinguished himself from an impressive field.
“These were all very, very good candidates,” he said. “I felt great about the process and was very impressed with how it was handled and extremely impressed with the final candidates we had to choose from. Buzzuro simply stood out.”
Buzzuro also stood out from the rest of the pack in Baltimore’s vast police department. When he was named commander of the Baltimore police academy in February, long-time Baltimore City Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke, who represents the northern district where Buzzuro served as commander, said he was one of the department’s best commanders.
“He is one of the finest district commanders I ever worked with in all my 24 years,” Clarke said in an interview in February. “Everything he does, he does methodically, professionally and with extreme seriousness.”
Buzzuro is expected to begin his new position July 2. He is no stranger to the resort, however, as he owns a home in north Ocean City.
“I am honored to serve the residents and visitors of Ocean City as Chief of Police,” he said. “As chief, I understand a key component of public safety is partnering with the community and understanding the dynamic of Ocean City’s unique environment. I look forward to accomplishing public safety through teamwork, professionalism and discipline of the fine men and women who service the Ocean City Police Department.”