NEW FOR TUESDAY: Mayor Promises ‘Aggressive’ Reaction To Summer Concerns

1_Meehan

OCEAN CITY – Mayor Rick Meehan publically responded to concerns over ongoing outbursts of crime in Ocean City this summer at this week’s Mayor and Council meeting and was subsequently chastised for not taking a leading role in crafting a solution.

Throughout the course of this summer, Ocean City has been in the negative spotlight, including bank robberies, a beach brawl and a Boardwalk gang-related stabbing to a tragic hit-and run involving a child, a shooting and other off-Boardwalk stabbings.

Ocean City resident Rachel Fiorello, who has written several letters to the mayor, came before the council on Monday evening to drive a response from Meehan.

“At this time, as voters and permanent residents, we would like to know what actions you and the council are taking to address these problems,” she said.

Fiorello continued, the problems of increased crime, menacing and threatening and an overall low standard of behaviors from certain tourists persist. Permanent residents of Ocean City should not lower expectations and standards of how people should behave simply because they visit the Ocean City community for a brief period during the summer months.

“We live here all year round. This is our home and we have a right to want to see it protected, preserved and cherished. Just because the town of Ocean City depends on tourism does not mean our citizenry must be victimized and intimidated by gangs, thugs, criminals and various undesirable inner city crowd who masquerade as tourists,” she said.

Fiorello pointed out that if the issues continue into the future Ocean City’s tourism and its revenue will tank. She has come across blogs on social media where she has found families choosing to vacation in neighboring resorts as safety in Ocean City’s becomes questionable.

“Mr. Mayor, people are looking for leadership on these matters. Sir, people are looking for political leadership in Ocean City, Md., to do the right thing. What is the right thing? Promote and provide public safety and restore Ocean City’s reputation as a safe, clean, pristine and exclusive family resort. So, mayor, we are urging you to please take aggressive actions to resolve our community’s problems,” Fiorello said.

Meehan took the opportunity to publically address ongoing concerns over the crimes taking place in Ocean City.

“This year was probably the worst I’ve seen as far as things we won’t expect or things we won’t anticipate to occur in Ocean City but they have. We can’t go back and change that clock but what we can do is be very aggressive. Being aggressive means planning for the future and making sure we are prepared moving forward to address those issues,” he said.

The mayor furthered, Ocean City Police Chief Ross Buzzuro, hired officially in late June, is in the process of coming up with an in-depth plan of action, and will work with the Mayor and City Council in the near future to address the incidents that have occurred and to prepare for the future.

“We want to make sure that it is known that we want people to come to Ocean City to enjoy Ocean City. If you are coming here for another reason please don’t come,” Meehan said.

The mayor highlighted a few actions that will be taken beginning with heightened intelligence in the types of people being drawn to Ocean City at all times and enhanced education and training of Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) officers to ensure consistent intelligence.

“He [Chief Buzzuro] is proposing a better use of technology to increase the presence of cameras along the Boardwalk and other areas, and even make those high definition cameras so they can be used for facial recognition. To make better use of license plate readers that we now have in some of our patrol cars, maybe we need to have those in permanent locations in the entrances of Ocean City, so that we know when the bad guys come or at least have a better idea,” the mayor said.

Meehan added OCPD is going to analyze its deployment and work with allied agencies, such as the Maryland State Police, Worcester County Sheriff’s Office, and surrounding municipalities to increase police presence in Ocean City.

“As we move forward with increased technology, surveillance and intel, that’s not going to be a secret, we want everyone to know that,” he said. “Those who are looking to cause trouble look for a weakness, they look for a weak place to come where they can get away with what they want to do, and we have to let them know if they come here they are not going to get away with it.”

Meehan responded to Fiorello that he too has read the negative comments on Ocean City.

“They are heart breaking but I also know in some of those blogs you only hear the bad things, and there are a lot of good things too,” he said. “Since June over 1.5 million people have visited and continued to come to Ocean City, and have enjoyed themselves while they are here. We need to make sure that they all go home with a good story about Ocean City.”

Councilwoman Margaret Pillas questioned the mayor’s reference to a no tolerance policy.

“It seems like a very difficult process without some kind of leadership … when are we going to start enforcing the laws that we have on the books?” she asked. “I know the police are trying their best but for some reason it is not really working, and I think it has more to do with our [Mayor and City Council] leadership than what the police department is doing or not doing.”

Councilman Brent Ashley recalled recently having a private conversation with Meehan, questioning the mayor on what he personally intended to do about the situation, in which the mayor responded, “I am not going to thump my chest and say we are going to take the town back.”

“You can explain away the cameras and the police chief and everything else but everybody looks to you to be a leader,” Ashley said. “I look to you to be a leader, and that is why I came to you in private and said ‘please do something’, and you said you were not going to.”

Meehan explained he is not one to become dramatic but would rather examine the problem and work with city officials in coming up with a long-term solution.

Ashley continued to poke at the mayor in not taking a leading role to soothe Ocean City and its visitors. Meehan became frustrated with Ashley’s assertions and pointed out the number of people Ashley speaks to who only have negative comments is a small percentage compared to the millions of visitors who enjoy Ocean City during the summer season.

“You can always look for the wrong answers, and I hear it too but when I take the time to explain to people … most people realize that we are not ignoring the issues that cause problems in our community and we are here to address them,” the mayor said.

Council President Lloyd Martin interjected Ashley has been the front man for spreading a negative image of Ocean City.

Martin reminded Ashley that officer initiated calls for service in June had decreased 4.4 percent over last year, citizen initiated call for service has decreased 11 percent, and the total number of calls for service decreased 6.3 percent.

“Brent, you have these numbers in front of you but you say what you say. We have 300,000 people here a weekend, and we are going to have people here that we don’t want here unfortunately … but we are doing our best,” Martin said. “You can always find the negative but we want to fix the negatives and move forward with the positives. Brent, you can be as negative as you want to be but I don’t want to hear any more of it.”

13 comments on “NEW FOR TUESDAY: Mayor Promises ‘Aggressive’ Reaction To Summer Concerns

  1. It is sad and amusing to observe the politicians and press talk around the pink elephant in the room. When citizens, businessmen, and cops talk in private;they KNOW what and who the problem is.

  2. It took several letters from Ms. Rachel, countless emails from others, requests from council members, a personal appearance from Ms. Rachel to FINALLY get the Mayor to respond. A leader does not wait until physically tracked down. A leader takes control. The Mayor is not one to be dramatic, maybe someone should let him know it’s August already. His sugar coated response is a little too late for my taste. More security cameras well ok, that might help after crimes are committed but does not address the issue. Doing nothing all season is not doing our best. I applaud Ms. Rachel for forcing a response from the Mayor otherwise we would still be waiting. I disagree that pointing out a problem is a negative, it opens the dialogue for a positive solution. It’s the crimes that go unreported that we need to worry about. Those unreported crimes are the stories our visitors are taking home with them. Council Pres Martin should be more concerned about the visitors negative experiences than accusing Councilman Ashley of spreading a negative image. What image does Martin think the victimized visitors are spreading?

  3. What is your solution Ms. Rachel? Brent Ashley? and Margaret Pillas (who does not have time to serve on any subcommittees)?

    Why not come up with a solution for everyone to comment on instead of passing blame around for your own personal (political) gain?

    If all you can do is stand there and criticize instead of offering a solution, then get out of the way and let the grown ups handle it.

  4. I hope that the new police chief can help improve the situation in OC. I think one of the reasons we are having a problem with crime in OC is directly related to the lack of enforcement of minor infractions. This leaves the bad elements that come to OC that they can do whatever they want. Litter laws are not enforced as evidenced by all the cigarette butts wedged into the boards of the newly renovated boardwalk. Jaywalking laws are not enforced as evidenced by numerous people who cross the street

  5. I wish the new police chief all the success in the world in cleaning up the crime problem in Ocean City. I believe that the reason we have a problem is because minor infractions are not enforced, leaving some people who visit OC to think they can get away with more serious crimes. Several years ago the NYC Police Commissioner went on a campaign to clean up Times Square. He succeeded in this effort by strictly enforcing both minor and major infractions. OC needs to try this approach. Litter laws are not enforced as evidenced by all the cigarette butts wedged in the boards of our newly renovated Boardwalk. Jaywalking ordinances are not enforced as evidenced by the numerous people who continually cross the streets where their are no crosswalks or when they cross against the lights and also by the pedestrians being killed and injured crossing the streets. Motor vehicle laws and noise ordinances are not being enforced as evidenced by the many modified cars and motorcycles that cruise the main drag of OC emitting offensive noise. The ordinance that requires pet owners to pick up after the pets is also not enforced as evidenced by excrement left on private and public property, including the OC dog park. I truly hope that the new police chief will address these in his new plan. Having been called to jury duty on two occasions, I never sat on a jury because all the cases that were scheduled that day were settled by plea bargains and the defendants were given a slap on the wrist instead of getting jail time. Perhaps the new chief can analyze the data on the court outcome of people arrested for serious offenses, including drunk driving, and if necessary speak with the State Attorney to seek stiff punishments for these offense. The bad guys need to get the message that Ocean City will not put up with bad conduct.

  6. This is a resort. And as such, totally & completely reliant upon tourism for our collective livelihoods. When a year-round resident implies that the year-round resident’s should be the entire focus of our Mayor & Town Council, well, that is just a short sighted vision there. Without the tourism dollars , OC would really be an exclusive world unto itself. The Mayor & Council have got a full plate at this time, and they are aware of it too. Year round residents could not survive here were it not for a strong seasonal economy, upon which we all depend. What’s good for tourism is good for us all. It is what pays the bills around here. Let the Mayor & Council work together to further the future of OC. This finger pointing is a fruitless endeavor, accomplishing nothing worthwhile. Focus, work, solutions….the common goal for the common good.

  7. I can understand why the Mayor was reluctant to address this problem as well as I can understand the council members frustrated over the lack of his input. I’ve been going over and over this myself and solutions aren’t easy to come by.
    The only thing I can think of is maybe some of the tourism fund spent toward not only promoting OC but also something along the lines of Beau Oglesby’s campaign slogan-OC the first place you want to vacation but the last place you want to commit a crime” type of campaign.
    OCDave brought up littering. Instead of the very nice “leave only your footprints” how about something along the lines of a hefty fine you can expect if you litter. Same with disorderly loud people. Let them know it won’t be tolerated.

  8. The fact that Councilman Ashley has brought the problems to light is not “spreading a negative image.” (The negative image is already there.) It gives the visitors who already know about the problems a sense that the Council is aware and taking steps to remedy the situation — that they’re not oblivious or hiding their heads in the sand. I applaud Councilman Ashley and Councilwoman Pillas for their desire to address the problems that are eroding Ocean City’s image before it’s too late. Starting a conversation about a decency dress code for the boardwalk, proposing a curfew, enforcing the alcohol laws and generally enforcing ALL the current laws are steps in the right direction. And it’s not just the high profile crimes that matter. It is also the little things like theft and burglaries and vandalism that people hear about that are tearing away at Ocean City’s reputation as a safe, family-friendly resort.

  9. Hit the nail on the head. It’s a shame that if you point that out though, you’re automatically the bad guy. Not the ones acting like idiots.

  10. Let’s start with Dispatch Cops and court. What are the judges thinking? Criminals don` get a slap on the wrist.10 yrs but you are out on time served. Really? And you ask why? Get some guts. Pass the ordinance for proper attire. I for one have no desire to walk the boards or streets of OC looking at a butt crack or boxers.That is all you see wherever you go. Total disrespect right in your face! Because politicians are scared to take a stand. Come on big guys, these wanna be thugs ruining a family resort are not voters. An all inclusive vacation is cheaper than a week in OC. Keep that in mind.

  11. Shame when the common goal for all “should” be making our City eventful, safe and fun. Instead we continue to 1st internal finger point then 2nd bringing what was discuss privately out into the open.

    Bashing one another, talking to media outside the area about rough times ~ some things should be left unsaid to move our City forward.

    Mid-Week for White Marlin…hoping for a bigger catch in the next few days!!! Almost a million on the “line”!!!!

    ~BUSHMAN!~

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

HTML tags are not allowed.