H2Oi Event Brings Surge In OC Police Calls, Traffic Citations; Mayor: ‘We Have No Control Over It …’

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OCEAN CITY – With an increase in police activity linked to participants, Ocean City officials are hoping to create a beneficial partnership with the organizers of the annual Volkswagon and Audi weekend event that comes to Ocean City each September.

H2O International, also referred to as H2Oi, is a two-day VW/Audi rally that was held in the Ocean City area Sept. 28-29 this year. The rally is not a sanctioned event with the Town of Ocean City, but there are organized events in Ocean City as well as in points to the west, including Fort Whaley Campground off Route 50.

This year from Thursday, Sept. 26 through Sunday, Sept. 29, demoflush reported a population of almost 578,000. During that time, the Ocean City Police Department reported a total of 2,207 calls for service between officers and citizens, and between traffic stops, traffic citations, and traffic warnings, there was a total of 1,584 traffic enforcement actions. There were also a total of 14 alcohol citations, 53 total arrests, seven drug arrests, four weapon arrests and seven DUI arrests.

Last year, the event was held Sept. 29-30, and from Thursday, Sept. 27 through Sunday, Sept. 30, demoflush reported a population of a little over 576,000. Crime statistics increased over last year during the event when there were 1,658 calls for service, 901 total traffic enforcement actions, seven alcohol citations, 78 total arrests, 26 drug arrests, five weapon arrests and nine DUI arrests.

In 2011, the event was held on Sept. 24-25, and from Thursday, Sept. 22 through Sunday, Sept. 25, demoflush reported a population of almost 761,000. At that time. crime statistics reported 1,244 calls for service, 541 total traffic enforcement actions, nine alcohol citations, 56 total arrests, 20 drug arrests, one weapon arrest and four DUI arrests.

In 2010, the event was held Sept. 25-26, and from Thursday, Sept. 23 through Sunday, Sept. 26, demoflush reported a population of a little over 705,000. Crime statistics reflected 1,195 total calls for service, 438 total traffic enforcement actions, seven alcohol citations, 39 total arrests, 11 drug arrests, zero weapon arrests and five DUI arrests.

The fluctuation in demoflush population estimations is due to other events taking place in Ocean City while H2Oi is in town, such as Sunfest that has in the past taken place on the same weekend.

“The good news is there are more people in town,” Mayor Rick Meehan said during Friday’s Police Commission meeting. “What is really unfortunate is it is not a sanctioned event. We have no control over it as they have no special event permits, so we really don’t know where [in town] it is going to be, which causes confusion and problems with the police department.”

Meehan hopes the rally will one day submit a special event permit but in the meantime he suggested OCPD meet with property owners that host the event, such as the 45th Street Village, in creating some sort of boundaries when it comes to ongoing issues with H2Oi, for example crowd control and trash collection.

“If they are going to host these events, then they need to be responsible,” the mayor said.

OCPD Captain Kevin Kirstein reported the department has been keeping a record of the locations where the vehicles gather and will follow up with the property owners of those locations.

“Saturday night I rode up and down the highway looking at some of the sites where they were gathering, and the next morning when I went up and down the highway the amount of trash they left behind was just amazing. I don’t know how people can be so thoughtless,” Councilman Dennis Dare said.

The issue reminded Dare of when he traveled to Myrtle Beach a number of years ago as city manager to study how the resort dealt with motorcycle rallies. An outcome of that initiative was having private properties partner with OCPD in posting no trespassing signs.

“It seems to be we are developing the same problem with H2O participants,” OCPD Capt. Michael Colbert said in reference to rally participants choosing locations to gather.

Council President Lloyd Martin pointed out the 94th Street Mall parking lot has become an issue as some businesses in the area welcome the rally and others do not.

“I don’t want to chase any kind of business out of town, but we need good business, not bad,” he said.

According to Police Chief Ross Buzzuro, one of the tactics being looked into is to expand enforcement during the event by partnering with neighboring agencies, such as the Maryland State Police, as OCPD does with other events to strengthen intelligence.

OCPD Lt. Scott Harner added he has met and plans to keep in contact with the H2Oi organizer to remain on the same page into the future.

“Most important I told him our biggest concern is safety of everybody here in town including his participants and he is engaged with that,” Harner said.

According to Harner the organizer is open to partnering with the town in posting social media links to promote the ongoing walk and drive smart campaign. The organizer has also expressed interest in reaching out to the town and local businesses, as well as developing a trash collection team at his own expense.

“The positive thing is the organizer is engaged with me, and is open and receptive,” Harner said.

8 comments on “H2Oi Event Brings Surge In OC Police Calls, Traffic Citations; Mayor: ‘We Have No Control Over It …’

  1. Now is exactly the time to plan for 2014 and it is “positively” important to “partner” with anyone and everyone coming to our City. Not all participants of H2O cause problems and that needs to be understood. Why? Just like our motorcycle, cruisers, firefighter, spring/sunfesters, corvettes, et al – they DO bring $$$$$$ to our City! It tis the price of doing business!!!!!!!!

    Demoflush ~ that still makes me laugh!

    ~BUSHMAN!~

  2. What this neglects to mention is how much this event supports your local economy. In September, when the vacation crowd is dying down, you have half a million visitors there and you’re complaining? Why don’t the police & town support the event instead of hassling everyone. If the police & town provided a welcoming atmosphere, I’m sure a lot of people attending h2oi would be appreciative and more respectful. You handed out 1,000+ tickets to kids mostly for suspension/modifications. That’s called hassling people for no reason. Focus on your jobs and making the community a safer place instead of picking on kids excited to be there.

  3. Obviously some people deserved tickets, like if they were doing stupid things but giving citations, like exhaust and suspension, are ridiculous. All the hotels this weekend were fully booked and everyone was eating at the restaurants down there. Handing out 1-4 citations to everyone does not make us want to come back to this event. You guys just abuse your authority because you know this week is all younger kids. Cruising week is 10x louder and I doubt you give out exhaust citations because most of the crowd is older. You guys should take this into account if you want people to come down there and spend money, in turn is how you get paid.

    STANCE
    LOW LIFE
    STRAIGHT PIPE
    SO TRENDY
    CAMBER GANG

    • Right. That’s the problem here, not the people going sideways in the streets or drinking and driving. It’s the exhaust notes.

      /sarcasm

  4. OCPD takes advantage of the younger crowd with this. How they don’t ticket cruise week like this is beyond me.

    If this event left OCMD, the amount of business lost would substantially hurt the economy. Ticket the people who deserve it (ie: the people who behave poorly or have grossly unsafe vehicles). -3* of camber should not warrant a ticket. Stickers on the window do not warrant tickets. Lowered cars not scraping or throwing sparks do not warrant a ticket.

    I do have to say that the people (ie: the Dapper crowd) did cause a lot of trash build up. I pointed out how bad this convention center was trashed on Saturday.

    There are a lot of good and sensible people that come to this event, and I would love to see statistics of the amount of citations by vehicle manufacturer as well. Maybe this can help to see what group is part of the problem. Most of the problems I saw were from the rear wheel drive clique driving dangerously.

  5. OC Locals/ Police dont realize this is a VW/ Audi Show that takes place outside of Ocean City. There are alot of cars that are not vw/audi that come and SIMPLY drive the strip for whatever reason. Some go to the show on Saturday/Sunday but alot dont. Im talking about the Honda/Mistubishi/anything NON Euro… They are the ones that u see driving reckless for the most part. The Dapper group just dont care it seems and ruin it for the rest of the groups looking to jsut meetup, Chill and talk cars. We come to OC stay in OC, spend money in OC and then the show. not RALLY is outside of OC. OC is a good time and I enjoy it. Ivebeen living in MD for 3 years now and OC is awesome. Perhaps more regulation from the town, but you need to understand that what happens in OC specifically is not part of the VW Audi show called H20i. The papers aren’t telling the whole story, but then again, which paper does…

  6. Sure there are many bad apples that come to H2Oi just like you have with EVERY car show that is held in OCMD and also senior week. But this year the OCPD set out to hassle most of the car enthusiasts for minor things like a sticker, camber, etc. One person actually called the Maryland State Police to question actions taken by the police involving the camber issue and ride height. The person at the state police department was not aware that OCPD was making these citations and had no clue what camber was until the person explained it to him. The officer (or who ever he was) responded that the police should not be making these citations for out-of-state vehicles because they do not apply to Maryland vehicle standards.

    This is a perfect example of being hassled. How can people during crusin week race up and down the strip, do burnouts, rev there engines, and so forth and those people can get away with it?! I don’t care if they have a sanctioned event with OCMD, that is exactly the things OCPD gave tickets for at H2Oi.

    There are many people already wanting to create clean up teams for 2014 so to make it seem like we don’t care, don’t do that. The money season would be over for OCMD if H2Oi didn’t keep coming down every last weekend in September. Be a little happy that we bring in THOUSANDS of dollars to your economy.

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