OCEAN CITY – Ocean City Police Chief Ross Buzzuro warned H20i attendees to expect “swift and firm enforcement” if they don’t mind their manners and obey resort traffic laws this weekend in a lengthy and somewhat unprecedented open letter.
Buzzuro’s statement was released on the town’s website early this week, but, as the town had likely hoped, quickly popped up on popular car enthusiast websites and clearly delivered the message that Ocean City is committed to ensuring that past incidents which have shrouded the longstanding special event in a veil of vitriol, will not be tolerated.
“Due to the increased number of visitors that we are anticipating during this event, you should expect to see a large police presence during your stay,” Buzzuro’s statement read, “Our highest priority is to keep our residents and visitor’s safe, in addition to ensuring a positive quality of life by using friendly, fair and firm enforcement.”
In the more than 500 words that followed, Buzzuro’s letter laid out areas the OCPD and supporting police forces would be focused on including speeding and aggressive driving, excessive noise post-midnight, and blocking streets and/or sidewalks.
Buzzuro also noted the department will be looking for people “willfully acting in a manner that disturbs the public,” carrying open containers of alcohol, burning out their vehicle’s tires and inciting or encouraging others to commit a crime.
In an interview with Jay Shoup, event promoter/owner of the H20i event, Shoup acknowledged that Maryland State Police officials would be setting up a command post within city limits throughout the weekend to assist the OCPD’s efforts, but admitted he was unsure the size of the effort or their planned location.
Last year’s H20i event was largely blamed for more than 2,200 calls for police service during the two-day event, including a scary mob scene that erupted into a few large scale brawls and the assault of a police horse.
Shoup, just like the Town of Ocean City, has taken a proactive approach at trying to keep the troublemakers out of town via messaging on the Internet. Shoup is active on Instagram and Twitter and has posted several pointed and sometimes expletive filled messages urging people not to attend the event if they wish to engage in unlawful activity.
Shoup also agreed to move the event a week later this year, so as not to conflict with Sunfest, he says, upon the town’s request.
“They asked me if I would be willing to move it as a favor to the city, and I was more than happy to do it,” said Shoup.
One website frequently visited by potential H20i attendees, vwvortex.com, posted Buzzuro’s letter earlier this week and called its contents, “all pretty common stuff, really.”
At least 800 to 1,000 registered VW and Audi cars are expected this weekend for the event with thousands more presumed to be descending on Ocean City to watch as spectators.
However, Buzzuro’s open letter and his Shoup’s proactive social media approach may be trumped by Mother Nature as rain and wind are forecast for the weekend, thanks to a cold front and tropical activity. Either way, Buzzuro was candid in his letter.
“We are optimistic that the majority of people that are planning to visit Ocean City in the coming weeks will be here to enjoy everything our town has to offer. Those that choose to disrespect our town and our laws can expect swift and firm enforcement,” the chief wrote.