Data Confirms Higher Police Activity During Cancelled Car Show Weekend

A vehicle is pictured completing a donut maneuver on Coastal Highway in September. Submitted Photo

OCEAN CITY – Police statistics from this year’s H2O International gathering confirm an increase a marked increase in calls for service

In a Police Commission meeting Monday, Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) Chief Ross Buzzuro shared statistics from this year’s H2O International (H2Oi) event.

Though H2Oi officials postponed this year’s car show in the weeks leading up to the event, many of the would-be participants traveled to Ocean City the weekend of Sept. 30 to Oct. 1 regardless of the show’s cancellation.

While the car show is not sanctioned by the Town of Ocean City, the resort’s close proximity to event headquarters at Fort Whaley attracts a large number of participants and hangers-on. In years past, the event has been associated with heavy traffic, numerous calls for service and violations of the town’s ordinances.

Buzzuro said the OCPD and its allied agencies – which included the Maryland State Police, Maryland Transportation Authority, and Worcester County, Wicomico County and Queen Anne’s County sheriff’s offices – reported 2,735 calls for service during this year’s H2Oi event.

“To give you an idea, in 2016 there were 2,527 calls for service,” he said, “about 208 more calls for service this year.”

Buzzuro explained both citizen- and officer-initiated calls for service increased during this year’s event.

“To break that down, officer calls for service were 2,143 versus 592 citizen calls for service,” he said, “so about 100 more calls for service on the officers’ side and on the citizen calls for service we recorded 106 more calls for service.”

In addition, Buzzuro said the six law enforcement agencies reported 2,302 traffic stops and issued 2,020 traffic citations.

Mayor Rick Meehan questioned the level of law enforcement participation throughout the weekend.

“What were the total number of officers?” he said.

Buzzuro estimated 100 officers participated throughout the weekend.

“On any given day we had over 100 officers on combined shifts,” he said.

Meehan said the number of officers available throughout the weekend highlighted the level of enforcement during the H2Oi event.

“I think it emphasizes the degree of enforcement that is necessary for those events and the manpower that it takes,” he said.

Councilman Dennis Dare, chair of the commission, agreed.

“The first thing people say is you need to increase enforcement,” he said. “I don’t think they realize how much resources are already committed.”

Buzzuro told the commission law enforcement agencies reported a 60-percent increase in accidents and collisions, a 75-percent increase in arrests, and nearly a 10-percent increase in calls for service over last year’s event.

“Traffic stops and tickets were fairly consistent, but they are still up considering last year,” he said.

While calls for service were up for this year’s H2Oi event, Buzzuro said the statistics are part of an upward trend.

In 2011, for example, police reported 1,200 calls for service during H2Oi, while in 2014 the agency reported 2,300 calls for service.

“We are seeing a progression, an upward trajectory, across the board,” he said.

Statistics shared with the Police Commission will be given to a task force that will determine the fate of the resort’s motorized special events.

Council Secretary Mary Knight also asked that statistics from Cruisin events be given to the task force.

“Would it be worthwhile to also show, since they are looking at all car events, Cruisin for the spring and Cruisin for the fall?” she said. “If there is an increase there would that be helpful for this task force? That’s what I would like to see.”

Meehan agreed.

“The purpose isn’t to draw conclusions,” he said. “It’s just to have accurate information.”

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.