OCEAN CITY — With the calendar flipping over to July this week, a look back at June 2014 revealed the month was decidedly quieter than its counterpart last year, with far fewer high-profile, violent crimes.
While the Ocean City Police Department’s crime statistics for June 2014 have not been finalized, anecdotally, the month was relatively quiet compared to June 2013, which saw a double shooting, multiple stabbings and other serious crimes including several armed robberies. Last month saw its fair share of serious crimes including a couple of first-degree assault cases and a violent attack on an Ocean City municipal bus driver, for example.
There were the usual crimes associated with the arrival of recent high school graduates for their annual Senior Week festivities. An unsanctioned “College Beach Takeover” event earlier in the month, which created major crime problems in Virginia Beach a year earlier, was also relatively quiet, thanks in large part to an aggressive enforcement campaign carried out by the OCPD and allied law enforcement agencies.
However, while June 2013 was marked with several violent crime incidents that garnered local and regional attention, June 2014 did not produce the same results.
“This was definitely a calmer June than most,” said OCPD spokesperson Lindsay O’Neal this week.
Looking back on June 2013, O’Neal said while there were several major crime incidents that attracted regional attention and cast an unflattering light on the resort, statistically speaking, the month was not as violent as in years past.
“Although we did see a couple of serious criminal incidents that rightfully drew a lot of attention in 2013, our annual report shows that we saw the lowest total number of serious crimes since before 2007,” she said. “We know that there is always room for improvement and our Command Staff worked diligently over the winter, as they do each year, studying crime statistics and developing strategic enforcement plans to ensure public safety in Ocean City.”
O’Neal said the long hours spent by the command staff throughout the winter to address some of the problems with the prior summer has clearly paid dividends.
“So far in 2014, that work is paying off and we are currently seeing over a 5-percent decrease in serious crimes year-to-date,” she said. “Although our busiest month is behind us, we still have July and August, which will bring an even more dramatic increase in population. Our officers, as always, will continue to provide the high standard of public safety that our residents have come to expect.”
The particularly violent two-week stretch in June 2013 began with four men being arrested on armed robbery charges after holding up a group of individuals in the downtown area at gunpoint. Later that same week, a Washington D.C. man was stabbed multiple times during a melee involving roughly 30 individuals on the Boardwalk and had to be carried into a motel lobby by others.
The spree continued with the arrest of another man who attempted to run down an OCPD officer with a vehicle in a fast-food restaurant parking lot. A week later, another man was arrested on first-degree assault and other serious charges after stabbing three individuals during a fight on a north-end Ocean City street.
The most serious incident from last summer was a double-shooting in the downtown area. In that case, a group of individuals were walking in the area of 18th Street when they interacted with another group at a motel pool adjacent to Coastal Highway. After words were exchanged, a physical altercation ensued during which two individuals were shot.
The violent June 2013 raised concern in the resort from residents and visitors about the changing demographics and the criminal element associated with it. Ocean City officials wrestled with the perception the resort’s family image was being tarnished. The most high-profile reaction to last June was the addition of an active video surveillance system on the Boardwalk that is monitored by OCPD staff continuously during the evening hours.
While June 2014 was decidedly calmer, it was not without its serious and violent crimes. Early in the month, a man was arrested on first-degree assault charges after repeatedly kicking an unconscious man following a fight in a parking lot. In mid-June, three individuals attacked an Ocean City municipal bus driver during an apparent spat over exact change. Just last week, an Upper Marlboro man was arrested on first-degree assault charges after allegedly choking his wife and holding a pillow over her face during an argument over his alcohol consumption.
For what it’s worth, the OCPD issues press releases for most serious and violent crimes along with public safety messages, recent police academy graduations and other information, and in June 2013, the department issued 26 releases. In June 2014, the OCPD issued just seven releases, five of which were crime-related.