OCEAN CITY – The Mayor and City Council gave their authorization for the resort’s police chief to increase the number of seasonal officers hired.
Councilman Joe Hall pointed out that in the past the council voted to decrease the cap of seasonal police officers hired to 100, which the law states is the minimum number of positions allowed.
“In the past, we have offered upwards of 150 [seasonal officer positions],” he said.
Hall explained that because the town’s budget had decreased the council voted to decrease the number of positions offered.
He said that the anticipation for this summer’s economy is that it will “heat up”, and raised the opinion to increase the cap to authorize the OCPD to hire additional seasonal officers.
Council President Lloyd Martin said that the police department aims to hire at least 130 officers, due to the fact that the amount of officers that actually hit the streets is less than the amount hired.
“Most of the time you’re lucky to have 100 [seasonal officers] two to three weeks out of the season,” Martin said.
Martin added that the department has trouble because the seasonal officer testing has not been as lucrative in the past.
“We were having trouble hiring as many people as we need to hire,” Martin said.
Ocean City Police Chief Bernadette DiPino said that the department would do its best in hiring the amount of officers the council authorizes to do so.
DiPino explained that there are a percentage of officers lost through the hiring process due to training and background checks. She said that the number of candidates that make it through testing has been lower than in the past.
“We do have very high expectations of the candidates that apply for our positions,” DiPino said. “We hold the same standards as the Maryland State Police officers do.”
The chief added that in the month of August the department loses a significant amount of seasonal officers because most of them are students and they return to school.
“I did encourage our training staff to look to hire a higher number so we can meet that minimum,” DiPino said.
Mayor Rick Meehan asked the chief if the department has the supervisory capacity to increase the number of seasonal employees hired.
“Well that’s going to be the challenge,” DiPino said.
DiPino explained that with the number of officers decreasing throughout the season due to testing, or other reasons, the department should be able to manage the number of remaining officers.
Joe Hall set a motion to allow the department to hire 140 seasonal officers. He added that the department should stagger their starting dates so that the number of officers can remain sufficient throughout the season.
Councilman Brent Ashley seconded the motion and it passed in a unanimous vote.
“If you do authorize us that number, we will strive our best to hire as many as we can,” DiPino said.