OCEAN CITY — An apparent drop in the number of noise complaints in Ocean City this summer was likely caused by a change in the way they are handled, resort officials learned this week.
During Tuesday’s Mayor and Council work session, Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) Chief Ross Buzzuro briefed the elected officials on some of the highlights of a recent police commission meeting. Among topics discussed was an apparent decline in the number of noise complaints during the summer season.
Buzzuro explained while the number of complaints overall continued to decline, the numbers were affected somewhat by a change in the way they are handled. In past years, all noise complaints, whether warnings or citations were issued, were sent to the noise board for review and action if necessary. However, Buzzuro said that policy changed two years ago resulting in a decline in noise complaints, at least on paper.
“Beginning in 2015, only citations and arrests went to the noise board for review,” he said. “Prior to that, the noise board got everything from warnings to citations to arrests. That’s why what looks like a decline in the number of incidents is really in change in operations.”
Councilman Dennis Dare agreed the change in operations somewhat skewed the overall numbers.
“It looks like the number of warnings has dropped significantly, but the number of citations has remained fairly constant,” he said. “Nonetheless, the numbers are down in most categories and that is the result of better outreach and enforcement, which equates to better compliance.”’
Buzzuro agreed there were a variety of reasons for the decline in the number of warning, citations and arrests. He said some properties that had historically been problem properties with noise had been replaced or had been removed altogether, noting a particularly troublesome property on 33rd Street. He also said the town’s Property Review and Enforcement Strategies for Safer Housing (PRESS) Committee had also stepped up its public education and outreach programs on the town’s noise ordinance.
“Even though the change in the warning policy has lowered the number of complaints that reach the Noise Board, we are still seeing a decline in the number of citations and arrests,” Buzzuro said. “The combination of all of those efforts has resulted in the decline. We are handling a lot of these issues before they even get to the Noise Board.”