OCPD Issues Heads Up About College Takeover Event Next Month

OCPD Issues Heads Up About College Takeover Event Next Month
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OCEAN CITY — Ocean City police this week issued a warning about an unsanctioned event planned for late July that will likely bring thousands of unruly visitors to the resort reminiscent of a similar unsanctioned and unannounced event last summer.

On Tuesday, the Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) advised residents and visitors to expect an unsanctioned event that will likely bring thousands of college-aged visitors to the resort on the weekend of July 21-23. The College Beach Weekend event is being promoted on various social media platforms, specifically Twitter under #CBW2K17, encouraging participants to come to Ocean City on those dates for a variety of planned activities.

If recent history is any indication, many attendees will be well-behaved and participate in the College Beach Weekend’s planned activities without incident, but more than a few will become unruly and create problems for the city and its police department. During a similar unannounced and unsanctioned event last July, a series of incidents connected with the event led to a dozen arrests after unusually large crowds of college-age individuals roamed the Boardwalk amid the rest of the big crowd on a hot summer night in late July.

This week, the OCPD confirmed the unsanctioned event slated for this July 21-23 is expected to be the same group that caused so many problems last year.

“This is the College Beach Weekend that we’ve seen in the past,” said OCPD public information officer Lindsay Richard on Wednesday. “Our intel unit is closely watching this event on social media. We have also been working closely with the business community as the event approaches.”

Unlike last year’s unsanctioned and unannounced College Beach Weekend “takeover,” the OCPD is aware of the event planned for late July this year and is being proactive in preparing and planning for any incidents that may arise.

“We historically see college-aged visitors throughout the months of May and June,” said OCPD Chief Ross Buzzuro. “With the expectation that this event will bring an influx of young adults, residents and visitors can anticipate increased enforcement and high visibility.”

The OCPD advised business owners to staff accordingly and employees should be prepared for a busy July weekend. In addition, the OCPD advised residents and visitors to report any ordinance violations as always, including sleeping in vehicles and noise.

“We will continue to work with the business community and our residents as the event approaches,” said Buzzuro. “We’re optimistic that the majority of people that are planning to come to Ocean City throughout the summer months are here to enjoy the beach and everything our town has to offer.”

The unruliness and mob-mentality witnessed during last year’s College Beach Weekend event began with one individual knocking over a trashcan and spilling its contents on the Boardwalk on a busy Saturday night in late July. When the OCPD arrested the individual, he became aggressive toward the officers and a large, hostile crowd began to form. In that initial incident, numerous suspects assaulted police officers as they attempted to disperse the crowd.

That incident on 1st Street was a precursor of sorts for a larger incident yet to come later the same night further up the Boardwalk. Ocean City Police observed a large, disorderly crowd estimated at over 200 in the area of 7th Street and the Boardwalk. According to police reports, individuals in the crowd were yelling profanities and some began throwing bottles and other objects. The crowd was hostile and aggressive toward police officers attempting to disperse them in what was characterized by one witness as a “legitimate stampede.” Dozens of officers responded to the scene.

Each April for the last several years, Virginia Beach has hosted an unsanctioned College Beach Weekend event with less than desirable results, although officials there have found it difficult to prevent the crowds associated with the event from coming, or even controlling them when they get there.  For example, in April 2013, thousands of college-aged individuals disrupted the town and caused businesses to shutter.

In June 2014, the same group promoted a College Takeover Beach Weekend in Ocean City and the OCPD and allied law enforcement agencies were aware of the pending event and took a proactive approach, including increased manpower and resources. That event passed fairly quietly with no major incidents.

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.