New Public Safety Programs Need Promoting

typewriter2

After what took place in the resort over the last four months, the Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) is doing exactly what it needs to do as a reaction to this summer.
While there is much debate over the calls for service figures being reported and whether they indicate crime is truly down in Ocean City or not, the fact is perception is reality in today’s world.
When people read the stories about calls for service being down or slightly higher and arrests for certain crimes being down while others are not, we believe the readers are highly skeptical. Many simply do not believe the reports that crime is down based off the high-profile and disturbing incidents that took place this summer on the crime front. Stabbings, shootings, robberies, beach brawls and burglaries made headlines through the summer, and that’s what most of us will remember, rather than officer-initiated calls for service increasing and citizen-reported calls falling.
That’s why no matter what the police data indicates the OCPD and the town needed to have a strong reaction, whether officials believe there is a crime problem or not.
It seems inevitable there will be more cameras on the Boardwalk next summer to help OCPD monitor problem areas and regularly catch criminals in the act. There are still lots of questions about that proposal, namely how much it will cost and how it will be paid for in the short term. Public safety and homeland security grants are surely options, but the funds to secure the cameras and install the systems will need to come from the city first with reimbursement possible down the line.
With research still being conducted on that, the OCPD released a brief presser this week indicating a special enforcement unit has been created. The release indicated, “Beginning this month, the 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.”
Chief Ross Buzzuro said, “The new Special Enforcement Unit will act as a stepping stone between our Patrol Division and our Criminal Investigation Division. The Unit will look very closely at growing crime trends in various areas of Ocean City and serve as proactive crime fighters.”
That sounds like a sound concept and wise crime-fighting tool, but a major component of this new unit and its goal needs to be an understanding that the media outside the area has to be alerted and that visitors and second-home owners must be informed in a high-profile manner.
When major crime incidents happen here, they make news throughout the mid-Atlantic. That was on display for all to see throughout the summer. In fact, one metropolitan media outlet did a front-page feature on the droopy pants proposal and recent crimes in Ocean City, while burying inside two homicides that occurred on the same night in the DC suburbs.
The city’s reactionary move(s) to this summer’s negative incident must garner a similar sort of attention, and the city has the resources and abilities to get this word out. It’s important that vacationers and second-home owners be alerted to what’s going on here in the off-season months as well as the summer months.