OCEAN CITY — After a three-year run of sharply declining crime rates in Ocean City, the figures dropped significantly again in 2017, according to the Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) annual report.
Chief Ross Buzzuro presented the annual crime report for 2017 to the Mayor and Council on Tuesday, showing crime in most statistical categories had dropped to 25-year lows.
“In 2017, we continued to see the lowest crime rates we’ve seen in over a quarter of a century,” he said. “This is a true testament to the hard work of the men and women of this department. Our personnel are dedicated to the safety of everyone in this city and that is proven by the stories and statistics within this report.”
Perhaps the best barometer on which to judge the 2017 annual report is the level of Part I, or the most serious, crimes. While some individual categories saw modest increases, the majority showed significant declines in 2017. For example, forcible rape spiked by 125 percent in 2017, from 14 reported cases in 2016 to 27 last year. Similarly, robberies increased by 60 percent last year, although the sample sizes in most categories are fairly small.
On the good side, most Part I crimes saw marked decreases in 2017. For example, assaults were down 14 percent, robberies dropped 36 percent, thefts declined 14 percent and motor vehicle thefts fell 13 percent.
“Part I crime was down 13 percent in 2017, and is down 26 percent since 2012,” he said. “Any time you have a double-digit decline in Part I crimes is pretty significant.”
Another key indicator is the number of calls for service. According to the report released this week, officer-initiated calls for service totaled 56,234 in 2017, while citizen-initiated calls for service totaled 21,093, for a total number of calls for service at 77,327. All in all, the number of calls for service increased by 10,000.
“There was a sharp uptick in calls for service this year,” said Buzzuro. “That’s the result of proactive policing. This is due in large part to the heightened number of seasonal police officers, the expansion of the public safety aide position and the proactive nature of the patrol division.”
While the OCPD continues to see declines in crime statistics, it manages to do it under budget each year. In 2017, the department’s allocated budget was 20,414,000 and it spent $20,207,000, representing a savings of over $206,000.
“It doesn’t get any easier each year, but the numbers continue to go down,” Mayor Rick Meehan said. “It gets more and more challenging in this day and age. I want to thank you and your officers. I know we’ll have some challenges, but I know you’ll be up for the challenge.”