OCEAN CITY – While early concerns over “College Takeover Beach Week” were that the event would draw an additional crowd of rowdy college students to the typical high school graduates, the results ended up being a typical weekend in June.
“I would like to commend and thank all of our officers and those who assisted us over this past weekend’s event. Thanks to tremendous teamwork and preparation, our citizens were safe this weekend and we saw relatively low criminal activity,” Police Chief Ross Buzzuro said in a statement on Tuesday. “There was a very young crowd on the Boardwalk, typical to June, but our young visitors enjoyed themselves responsibly. The incidents that we did see over the weekend were very similar to what we historically see during the month of June. Our highly visible police presence and proactive enforcement drew gracious comments from many Ocean City citizens. I hope that this weekend’s event proves the Ocean City Police Department’s dedication to providing the finest service to our residents and visitors in keeping our town safe.”
Despite a 27-percent increase in the total number of arrests from the period of Thursday, June 5-Monday, June 9 compared to last year, the Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) confirmed there were no major incidents and most arrests were typical of the time of year.
Total arrests this past weekend were up considerably, however, from 173 in 2013 to 219 in 2014, as were drug arrests, which increased 23 percent in 2014, from 62 to 76. DUI arrests were flat at 18 as were weapon arrests at 23.
Calls for service jumped 8 percent for the weekend, from 1,185 in 2013 to 1,285 in 2014. Peak calls for service came on Saturday when 358 were recorded. During the same weekend last year, according to the OCPD, the peak service call day recorded 331 calls.
For its part, the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office released numerous crime reports from the weekend but none were of a serious nature and zero felony arrests were reported.
Ocean City Hotel-Motel-Restaurant Association Executive Director Susan Jones reported business was reported as normal for lodging and bar/restaurant members.
“The reports I am hearing from businesses is that it was business as usual. I don’t know of anybody that closed up but there were definitely people in town,” Jones said. “”I honestly think it was a nice June weekend. I had a couple of hotels that were so happy with the police presence. They said that their customers noticed all of the yellow vests on the boardwalk and had commented that they were so happy to see the proactive stance that our town took. The police did an amazing job.”
As the weekend panned out, there was a sentiment from many that “College Takeover Beach Week” did not occur in Ocean City, but town officials are confident there were associated participants in the area.
“We have heard some comments regarding the ‘college takeover’ crowd not showing up but we know for a fact that they were in Ocean City, and continuing to use social media to promote the event during their stay,” Town of Ocean City Communications Manager Jessica Waters said. “We never expected to have the amount of college takeover participants that Virginia Beach had but we certainly did expect to have several thousand college aged kids, as well as the high school seniors, and that is exactly what we had. We know that the first few weekends in June are very busy and draw a very young crowd, and we planned accordingly.”
Waters recognized the OCPD and all allied agencies that were involved in creating a high presence.
“We are very pleased with the results of the weekend, which is one of our busiest weekends of the year. We welcomed all of our visitors, including our ‘college takeover’ and senior week guests, with the expectation that when they arrived in Ocean City that they were respectful, courteous and obeyed the laws and ordinances, and for the majority of our guests, they did just that,” Waters said. “We hoped for the best and planned for the worst and while we were very optimistic about the weekend, we were also very prepared for any incident that may arise. I think the preparation and planning of our law enforcement personnel should be recognized for what resulted in a very safe and overall uneventful weekend.”
Waters enjoyed Saturday evening on the Boardwalk with her family and reported she was pleased to see crowds of all ages.
“The highly visible police presence provided an additional sense of security with such a large crowd and I imagine it deterred a lot of crime before it happened. For anyone that may have wanted to misbehave, there was always a police officer close by to put out the fire before it started,” Waters said. “Overall, it was a great weekend, and I hope that it will be followed by a great summer.”
OCPD and allied law enforcement agencies all over Worcester County braced for the unsanctioned event, “College Takeover Beach Week” after hearing reports of what the unsanctioned event brought to Virginia Beach in 2013.
In April 2013, the event in Virginia Beach resulted in crowds estimated at 40,000 to 50,000 college-aged individuals invading the town’s Oceanfront area. According to reports, the big crowds roamed the streets, disrupted traffic and businesses and generally scared local residents and other visitors to the town. Perhaps more importantly, the event included several significant crimes including three shootings, multiple stabbings and other serious crimes all in the span of about four hours.
After the 2013 disaster in Virginia Beach, city leaders and the town’s police department took a proactive approach when the event returned this April with decidedly different results. Virginia Beach officials in April attempted to embrace the influx of visitors rather than take a combative stance and urged local businesses to stay open and welcome the group with a strong police presence on hand. The result was a much calmer event with few if any reports of significant crimes.