OCEAN CITY – Despite some high-profile crimes during the month, key data from the Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) reveals calls for service declined approximately 3 percent last month compared to last July.
At Monday’s Police Commission meeting, it was reported July’s total calls for service, including traffic stops, business checks and assistance to citizens, were 15,128, which is a 3.1-percent decrease from July 2012 when there were 15,620 calls for service.
Out of the total number of calls for service 11,256 were officer initiated, which is a 1.3-percent decrease from July 2012, and 3,872 were citizen initiated, which is an 8.1-percent decrease from July 2012.
The total number of call for service, excluding traffic stops, business checks and assisting citizens, totaled 10,157, which is a 4.1-percent decrease from July 2012.
“We are seeing a decrease in just about every category,” said OCPD Chief Ross Buzzuro.
The chief pointed out disorderly calls for the month of July totaled 836, compared to 939 last July; collisions declined from 374 last July to 333 this July; alcohol violations plummeted to 295 this July compared to last July’s 464; CDS violations dropped to 166 this July compared to last July’s 278; assault already occurred calls were 85 this July compared to 114 last July; and report of a fight slipped to 34 from 43 last July.
Other coded calls for service that declined included theft already occurred, 243 this July from 271 last July; noise complaints or violations, 216 from 234; civil dispute, 144 from 154; malicious destruction of property, 108 from 114; forgery of any kind, 83 from 131; warrant attempt or arrest, 53 from 75; and lost property report, 36 from 41.
There were 473 arrests made in July and 207 criminal citations issued. There were 94 drug arrests made and 136 drug citations. There were 55 DUI arrests made and 23 weapon arrests, according to OCPD data.
Calls for service that did increase in July compared to last year included city ordinance violation, 1,396 from 1,251; parking complaints/violations, 517 compared to 469; tow impound police, 168 from 162; domestic assault/dispute, 138 from 131; trespassing, 98 from 80; breaking and entering, 17 from 14; and indecent exposure, 15 from 13.
Despite these figures indicating overall crime was down, July was a month of high-profile criminal incidents.
On the afternoon of July 17, the north end of Ocean City was abuzz with activity, as a motorist fled the scene of a hit-and-run crash in Rehoboth Beach and showed a large knife to witnesses. A chase ensued down the coast to Ocean City and the suspect’s vehicle struck several others in town, and he tried to elude police by jumping in the bay. Police eventually utilized a Taser to keep him in under control while on a marsh west of the resort.
On July 21, three men were arrested after a disturbance on a downtown beach that arose after a lifeguard tried to get the suspects to settle down on the beach. Police were called and a fight erupted. The men were arrested and charged with assaulting officers among other charges. While being charged, a then-pregnant woman went into labor and delivered it in Salisbury. She was later charged with second-degree assault.
On July 21 and 22, there were two near stabbings at the Sandbar and The Party Block involving unruly patrons pulling knives on the owners of the establishments in separate incidents.
On July 24, a suspect held up the Susquehanna Bank near 94th Street and was able to elude police. No arrests have been made.
At the Mayor and City Council meeting on Tuesday afternoon, City Manager David Recor presented a report of crime statistics on the Boardwalk from 2010 to present in the summer months prepared by OCPD Crime Analyst Brandon Riem. The report was presented to the Police Commission the day prior.
“In the tabulated data, you can see crime is significantly down dating from 2010,” Recor said.
However, the data presented only included May and June of 2013. Through May and June 2013, incidents were totaled at 256, compared to 250 in May and June of 2012, 298 in May and June 2011 and 275 in May and June 2010.
In June specifically on the Boardwalk, there were 213 incidents reported, including 64 thefts, 41 drug violations and 11 weapon violations. In June 2012, there were 193 incidents, including 66 thefts, 24 drug violations and five weapon violations.
Councilman Brent Ashley took exception to how the Boardwalk statistics were presented at the meeting, reminding the Mayor and Council this does not reflect any fluctuation in the visitor count. Ashley cited a “13 percent” decline in crowd totals needed to be included in the report. Ashley has previously said logic would indicate crime numbers would be down if less people are coming to Ocean City.
The July monthly average population in Ocean City, according to demoflush, was 305,112 with the first weekend in July (holiday) down 2.3 percent from the previous year, and subsequent weekends down 1.5 percent from 2012, up 1.7 percent from 2012 and down 4.2 percent from 2012, respectively.
Council Secretary Mary Knight, chairwoman of the Tourism Commission, said a new tourism metric documenting vital statistics is in the works.
“We have been working very diligently on some new statistics, how to gauge who’s in town, who’s not in town, compared since 2011, we might be able to look back to 2010,” Knight said.
Tourism Director Donna Abbott will present that report at the next work session on Aug. 27.
“It is not perfect but it will provide a lot of information of who’s in town, who’s not in town, it considers other things such as weather, Demoflush and revenue collected from parking. It has a lot of information. The one thing we are missing and we are having a hard time getting is zip codes collected from our hotel industry, so once we are able to get that it will give is a good picture,” Knight said.