Council Approves Police General Order Requests

OCEAN CITY – Ocean City Police Department’s General Orders received several updates this week, including advancements in mobile wireless technology as well as requiring police officers to follow the same hands-free cell laws as ordinary citizens.
Ocean City Police Department Captain Greg Guiton requested approval of the Mayor and City Council on Tuesday to update six General Orders (G.O.) policies and rescinding one policy due to outdated practices.
In a memo submitted to the Mayor and City Council, OCPD Chief Ross Buzzuro outlined each policy matter.
G.O. 100 A-1, Department Direction and Organization is an update to reflect the organizational structure of the department. Community service related matters will remain an integral part of the Office of the Chief while all other aspects of the department will be managed at the divisional level.
This policy also includes the newly created Selective Enforcement Unit, which is another investigative component of the Criminal Investigation. This new unit will address investigative needs arising out of intelligence gathering efforts that directly impact quality of life and safety issues for residence and visitors.
G.O. 100 D-2, Employee Recognition, is a policy that was originally published under the title of “Commendation Board” in 1999. The policy now addresses other aspects of commendation and recognition to include retiree recognition. The update also streamlines the nomination process for commendation recommendations, avoiding multiple approval steps. This update was initiated through the Joint Labor/Management Committee as part of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
G.O. 200 H-2, Biased Based Profiling, requires a minor update to properly reflect new terminology used in conjunction with traffic stop data collection and proper reference to a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) used to provide direction to police officers applying the requirements set forth in a Maryland Vehicle Law.
The specific term updated in the policy is Traffic Stop Data Form (TSDF). This form is used by officers who are not using the computerized data entry known as E-TIX when issuing traffic enforcement actions. The form allows the Records Management Section the ability to enter captured data required for compliance with the law without burdening police officers with administrative tasks.
G.O. 200 U-1, Use of Force, is updated for the purpose of terminology change, a reference to new less-lethal weapon introduced to the department, and a notation from a 2011 Maryland Court of Appeals case regarding a TASER use.
Regarding terminology, TASER, has changed from using the term Electronic Control Device (ECD) to the term Conducted Electrical Weapon (CEW) to identify their product line. The terminology change has been made in this policy as well as in the SOP that governs CEW use.
There is an additional reference in the policy to a less-lethal launcher under section, Impact Weapon. This device was introduced to the department several years ago but was not placed in service until June 2013. The guidelines for the weapon’s use are found in the SOP.
An addition to the policy is a reference to a Maryland Court of Appeals case that was decided in 2011. The Court ruled that the use of a CEW for the purpose of stopping a fleeing suspect may be considered an arrest and said detainment would need to be supported by probable cause. Since this is the “rule of the land”, OCPD elected to note this in the policy referencing the case by name, which is Reid v. Maryland. Training in this area has been done with each CEW class that has been taught since the department adopted the weapon for use.
G.O. 600 J-1, Juvenile Custody and Care, is an update to a policy that was originally published in 1990. Over 23 years the policy has been in place and several Chief of Police Memorandums have been published to accommodate changes regarding juvenile law without updating the actual policy. The policy update now incorporates all best practices pertaining to care and custody of juveniles, in compliance with State and Federal laws.
G.O. 800 I-2, Mobile Wireless Communication Device Use, is a policy originally published under the title “Cellular Telephone Use” in 2005. As technology advanced with the increase use in handheld devices and smart phone systems as a means of communication, the revision to the original policy now accounts for these technology advances.
Guiton furthered a state law enacted on Oct. 1 outlaws drivers from talking on cell phones while driving unless it is on a hands free device. However, police officers are exempt from the law.
“We as an agency felt that we didn’t want to go down that road. We wanted to be more restrictive. Our restriction is in cases of an emergency an officer can use a cell phone without a hands free device but once that immediate emergency is over they either go to a hands free device or some other type of form of communication,” Guiton said.
Councilman Brent Ashley was happy to hear about this and pointed out Anne Arundel County has recently done the same.
Lastly, G.O. 400 A-1, AIDS, is a 1988 policy that is specific to only one form of pathogen that any one of the department’s employees could be subjected to while working. As time has progressed, the reality is that there are several blood borne pathogens that require precautionary measures and the department, with the aid of the fire department, has elected to address these matters through a SOP entitled Communicable Disease Prevention and through frequent training. The new SOP is relevant to situations faced by the department’s employees and is more far reaching than the current General Order as published. Guiton requested the AIDS policy be rescinded to be replaced with a new SOP.
The council voted unanimously to approve all six OCPD policy updates and the one policy rescind.