OCEAN CITY — The Ocean City Police Commission is exploring potential ways to enhance penalties for those issued civil citations for various offenses but flaunt the law and continue the same illegal activity throughout the same day.
During last Monday’s Police Commission meeting, Ocean City Police Chief Ross Buzzuro informally brought up the subject of enhanced subsequent penalties for individuals who might receive a civil citation for a minor offense early in the day and continue the same illegal activity for the rest of the day. He used a possible example of a street performer on the Boardwalk issued a citation for not being in an approved space or outside the approved guidelines who returns a short time later and continues the activity.
Another example might be an individual cited for drinking on the beach or smoking outside the designated smoking areas. In most cases, civil citations are issued, but the offenders can simply go back to the same illegal activity a short time later without serious repercussions.
“Our concern is, the police on the Boardwalk can issue a citation to a street performer not in compliance or someone smoking in non-designated areas, for example, but they can continue the illegal activity for the rest of the day without getting a separate citation,” said Buzzuro. “We’d like to explore making it a misdemeanor arrestable offense if they continue to do it.”
OCPD Captain Kevin Kirstein also used a street performer example to illustrate the need for tweaks in enforcement.
“One way or the other, we’d like to have that tool in the tool box,” he said. “We might have a guy out there doing his balloon thing or whatever and he can say thanks for the citation and then just keep on doing it the same day.”
City Solicitor Guy Ayres said repeat offenders can currently be charged in other ways if they continue to flaunt the law.
“I think this might be best handled by failure to obey a lawful order,” he said. “I can think of a number of instances when that could be applied. Think of people interfering with firefighters. If they are told to stand back and don’t obey, they can be issued a public safety misdemeanor citation.”
Ayres said the issue deserved more exploration.
“We don’t want to have people snub their noses at the police,” he said. “If there is a violation of the law, there are mechanisms to punish them. We need to spend a little more time on this and come back with some more information.”