OCEAN CITY – The new Ocean City Police Department Special Enforcement Unit, aimed at working with the community to ease concerns, was discussed by city officials this week.
On Monday evening, Police Commission Chair Councilman Doug Cymek brought the full Mayor and City Council up to speed on last month’s crime statistics in comparison to last year.
Last Monday Police Chief Ross Buzzuro reported to the Police Commission August’s total calls for service, including traffic stops, business checks and assistance to citizens, were 12,983, which is a 1.8-percent increase from August 2012 when there were 12,757 calls for service.
Out of the total number of calls for service, 9,421 were officer initiated, which is a 3.1-percent increase from August 2012, and 3,562 were citizen initiated, which is a 1.5-percent decrease from August 2012.
The total number of calls for service, excluding traffic stops, business checks and assisting citizens, totaled 8,400, which is a 2.8-percent decrease from August 2012.
“I keep hearing crime is down and I think that is great,” Councilman Brent Ashley said.
However, Ashley pointed out while crime is reported to be decreasing in Ocean City the police department has established a new Special Enforcement Unit.
Over the weekend, the department announced, beginning this month a Special Enforcement Unit will be patrolling throughout Ocean City. The Special Enforcement Unit will be a proactive criminal investigative unit which will focus on working closely with the community to identify problems and solve crime. Officers assigned to this unit will primarily be working in a plain clothes capacity much like the department’s Narcotics Unit.
“The new Special Enforcement Unit will act as a stepping stone between our Patrol Division and our Criminal Investigation Division,” said Buzzuro. “The unit will look very closely at growing crime trends in various areas of Ocean City and serve as proactive crime fighters.”
City Manager David Recor reassured overall most categories of crime have decreased except for a few abnormalities.
“The Special Enforcement Unit was established to use intelligence-based information and technology to try and address some of those anomalies that are not the norm,” Recor said. “The department already works with organized neighborhood associations, and I think you will see the same proactive approach here in reaching out to the community and working with residents.”
Council Secretary Mary Knight recalled a string of burglaries in unoccupied homes during last year’s off-season and used the incidents as an example of the type of crime the unit will be focusing on as well as being aware of national trends in crime and keeping an eye out for such activity in Ocean City.
“We are realizing there are national trends. We are not oblivious to that just because we live on the Eastern Shore, and we are going to focus, so this is a very positive, proactive and I am excited about it. I thank the chief for it,” Knight said.
Council President Lloyd Martin said the formation of a Special Enforcement Unit has been sought for some time but due to the lack of manpower it’s never happened. With OCPD currently up to sufficient staffing levels, four patrol officers have been transferred to serve in the Special Enforcement Unit.
“What it does is reinforce our community policing and help us move forward in making our communities safer,” Martin said. “When there is an area of breaking and entering, or a peeping tom, or whatever it may be they can focus their efforts on that and move forward to help you feel safer in your homes, and that is what it is all about.”
Being a downtown resident and former Boardwalk merchant, Councilwoman Margaret Pillas appreciates the formation of the Special Enforcement Unit.
“This unit is going to work with the community, so this is wonderful. Crime is up in some areas and weapons are one of them, so I think this is important that the chief is going to put together this unit,” she said.
According to August’s crime report the following categories in calls for service have decreased; disorderly conduct, suspicious person or activity, alcohol violations, theft, CDS violations, civil disputes, domestic assault, malicious destruction, DWI investigation and/or arrest, breaking and entering, parking complaints/violation, assistance to OC EMS, noise complaints or violations, assault already occurred, forgery of any kind, report of any lost children, warrant attempt or arrest, report of a fight, indecent exposure.
Coded calls for service that increased included city ordinance violation, 911 hang up, collisions, tow impound police, and lost property report. Trespassing remained the same in both August of 2012 and 2013.