BERLIN – With an increase in enforcement efforts, Ocean Pines saw a 40-percent drop in crime in 2014.
The 2014 year-end report released by the Ocean Pines Police Department shows that serious crimes dropped from 178 in 2013 to 106 in 2014. Chief Dave Massey says it’s the biggest reduction in crime he’s seen since becoming police chief in 2003. He believes the drop is due in part to an increase in police enforcement but also in part to the random nature of crime.
“I think we’ve had an impact and hopefully we’ll continue that way,” he said. “You have to be careful taking too much credit — you can control some variables but not all.”
While the statistics in the 2014 report still need to be reviewed by the FBI before they are finalized, Massey said they were used to determine a community’s crime rate. The biggest change experienced by the community was the drop in theft in 2014. While there were 112 reported thefts in 2013, there were only 72 thefts in 2014.
“We didn’t have all the thefts from auto we had in 2013,” he said.
Reported assaults were also down, falling from 30 in 2013 to eight in 2014.
The only area of crime to show an increase in the Pines in 2014 was rape. There were no rapes in 2013 but there was one in 2014.
There were no murders and no robberies in the community during the last two years.
While overall crime was down, Ocean Pines police reported a 39-percent increase in arrests for 2014. Arrests jumped from 139 to 193. Massey says some of those arrests were for crimes not listed as serious while others were from ongoing cases, which is why a decrease in crime didn’t correspond to a decrease in arrests.
“Sometimes it works out that way,” Massey said.
The 2014 report shows that Ocean Pines’ 70 miles of roads kept police busy. During the course of the year, officers responded to 84 traffic accidents and made 2,614 traffic stops. Those stops resulted in 2,154 written warnings and 460 traffic citations. In 2013, officers made 1,596 traffic stops. Massey said he was able to increase patrols because vacancies had been filled and the department was fully staffed with 15 officers.
“The number of officers on the street is going to impact the number of traffic stops,” he said. “For most of 2014, we were at full strength.”
He said that while 15 officers was a good number for the Pines, it was sometimes hard to keep the department fully staffed.
“Law enforcement is very competitive,” he said. “Hanging on to officers is critical.”
Though crime was down this year, Massey said it tended to be cyclic and would invariably increase next year.
“There are some years that are just busier than others,” he said, adding that that was particularly true in Ocean Pines where the population swelled with temporary residents each summer. “We’re vulnerable to people coming in and out.”
Nevertheless increased enforcement helps and is something Massey will continue.
“I truly believe when police are proactive rather than reactive you’re better off,” he said.