No Concerns With OCPD After Several Retirements, Promotions

No Concerns With OCPD After Several Retirements, Promotions
Ray Austin

OCEAN CITY — The shuffle at the top of the Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) continued last month with another significant promotion, but despite an apparent experience drain this year, there is no concern about the quality of officers moving up the ranks in the department.

The OCPD announced recently Lieutenant Ray Austin has been promoted to the rank of captain and will take over as the commander of the Criminal Investigation Division. Austin’s promotion comes on the heels of the retirement of long-time Captain Kevin Kirstein, who was feted with a retirement ceremony at City Hall.

Kirstein’s retirement was the fourth significant retirement within the last year and the sixth in the last 18 months. Collectively, the four high-ranking OCDP officers that have retired since last May, including Kirstein, Lieutenant Todd Wodd, Lieutenant Mark Pacini and Detective Corporal Brett Case, roughly had 120 years of experience with the department combined.

“There have been significant changes in our command staff since I became chief five years ago through attrition and position changes,” said OCPD Chief Ross Buzzuro. “In the last 18 months, we’ve had six of our staff members retire, five of whom were lieutenants or above and each had at least 25 years of law enforcement experience.”

Despite the apparent experience drain at the top, the OCPD has several extremely qualified and experienced officers ready to move up the organizational chart, as evidenced by the promotion of Austin to captain and commander of the Criminal Investigation Division this week. While several seasoned veteran officers have retired in recent months, Buzzuro said most will remain with the department in various capacities.

“We are extremely grateful that most have decided to remain with us as reserve officers,” he said. “They will be assisting us in a variety of ways which include training, recruiting and community engagement.”

Buzzuro said there was no concern about the continuity of the department with two long-time captains in place in Greg Guiton of the Support Services Division and Mike Colbert of the Patrol Division along with Austin now as captain of the Criminal Investigation Division. Behind the triumvirate of captains on the department’s organizational chart is a network of experienced and dedicated lieutenants including Rick Moreck, Glen McIntyre, Elton Harmon, Art Grady, Scott Kirkpatrick, Shawn Jones and Greg DeGiovanni, who was promoted last month from sergeant to lieutenant and will take over as shift commander of the midnight watch, replacing Austin.

Buzzuro said despite the apparent spike in retirements up and down the command staff in recent months, he was confident the officers in place along the organizational chart.

“We are fortunate to preserve their many years of knowledge and experience while elevating qualified officers through the ranks of the department,” he said. “I am confident those promoted into leadership positions will excel in their new role and will our agency progressing forward in a positive direction.”

Austin joined the OCPD in 1991 as a seasonal officer and returned to the department in that capacity each summer until 1994 when he was hired as a full-time officer. Since then, Austin has served the department in several capacities including patrol sergeant, narcotics and vice unit sergeant, patrol lieutenant and watch commander, assistant commander for the CID and assistant commander for the patrol division. He is also commander of the OCPD’s hostage negotiation unit.

Austin has thousands of hours of law enforcement training, most notably as a graduate of the prestigious FBI National Academy. During the course of his career, he has earned several awards from his superiors in the department and the community.

“Since I’ve known Captain Austin, he has shown tremendous leadership and I’m consistently impressed with his work ethic,” said Buzzuro. “Without a doubt, I know he will do well in his new position and I’m excited for the future of the Criminal Investigation Division.”

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.