OCEAN CITY — A look at some of the statistics from June showed a significant spike in certain calls for service and municipal ordinance violations.
During Monday’s Mayor and Council meeting, Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) Chief Ross Buzzuro presented his monthly activity report for June, which showed considerable spikes in certain areas over the same month in 2016. Buzzuro explained officer-initiated calls for service increased 66 percent in June 2017 compared to June 2016, while citizen calls for service actually dropped by 6 percent.
The net increase in total calls for service during June 2017 came in at 36 percent. Buzzuro explained the end result was about 500 more calls for service this June compared to last June.
“We had a substantial increase in officer calls for service last month,” he said. “There were about 500 more calls for service in June of this year versus the same month last year. That’s a pretty good number and that is the result of very proactive policing.”
Buzzuro said a particular emphasis this summer has been the enforcement of municipal ordinance infractions. The chief said the OCPD has been strictly enforcing ordinance infractions such as smoking on the Boardwalk, bikes and dogs on the Boardwalk at certain times, open containers of alcohol and skateboarding, for example. Enforcement of city ordinance violations subsequently has jumped from 1,195 in June 2016 to 3,645 in June 2017.
“Our officers are addressing issues with a special emphasis on the Boardwalk,” he said. “All in all, it was a very good month.”
Buzzuro said aiding the department’s enforcement efforts was a full complement of sworn full-time officers, the desired number of seasonal officers and public safety aides (PSAs) who have clearly increased police presence.
“It’s working out well,” he said. “We have a very energetic crew that is working with us this summer. The visitors have noticed them with very positive feedback, especially on the Boardwalk and the lower downtown area. It’s a very fine group of young men and women that are representing us very well.”
In response to a question about the number of full-time sworn officers, Buzzuro said the department is a few short of the desired benchmark of 105, but the seasonal officers and PSAs are stepping and filling the void, as evidenced by the spike in municipal ordinance infractions. During budget deliberations this spring, it was learned there was a drop-off in the number of full-time officers, some because of retirement and others because of quality of life issues.
As a result, the council voted to add funding for another full-time officer, bringing the total number to 105. Buzzuro said that number will likely be reached with the addition of officer candidates currently going through the academy and others that will complete the training before the next summer season.
“We have two officers that started the academy this week,” he said. “They will graduate before the end of the year and they’re going to come on board with us full time. We’re looking at putting officers in the January class. We will have several openings as a result of retirements at the latter part of this year.”
Buzzuro said there are more anticipated retirements forthcoming, but the candidates going through the current academy session and those who complete the training next winter will offset those losses.