OCEAN CITY – Officials in Ocean City are considering a new public safety campaign that utilizes a stationary vehicle to convey the consequences of drinking and driving.
In an Ocean City Police Commission meeting Monday, Councilman Wayne Hartman presented a potential public safety campaign entitled “Choose Your Ride,” which reminds people not to drink and drive by displaying a vehicle that resembles both a patrol car and a taxi cab. The paint scheme is meant to promote the message that those who choose to drink should take a taxi or wind up in a patrol car.
Hartman said the vehicle – painted like a patrol car in the front and a taxi cab in the back – would feature the “Choose Your Ride” slogan and could be placed at the entrance of the resort.
“I thought it was a neat idea,” he said.
Like other cities across the country that have introduced the “Choose Your Ride” initiative, Hartman said Ocean City could use an aging police car that would otherwise go to auction.
While he supported the campaign and its public safety message, Ocean City Police Chief Ross Buzzuro expressed his concerns with using an old police vehicle. He noted that patrol cars that go to auction are essentially deemed operationally unsafe.
“We ride them up until the point when there’s an area where safety comes into play,” he said.
Buzzuro said any patrol car used for the public safety campaign must be safe for the person driving the vehicle to and from a specific location.
“That vehicle still has to be driven by a member of our department to a location,” he said. “Once that officer gets into a vehicle, starts it up and moves it I’ve got to make sure that it’s operationally sound.”
Mayor Rick Meehan questioned if it would be acceptable to tow the car to a specific location.
“Let’s just say, for discussion purposes, it was placed at the foot of the Route 90 bridge and it was left there all summer,” he said.
Buzzuro supported Meehan’s idea.
“We don’t want to put an officer behind the wheel of any car that is unsafe,” he said.
Meehan also suggested finding a visible location for the car to remain throughout the summer months.
“I think if you want to try a practical application I would find a permanent location like Route 90,” he said. “People see that when they come in. It’s a public safety message.”
The commission voted unanimously to bring the “Choose Your Ride” campaign before the Mayor and Council for discussion. The idea is to place one car at the foot of the Route 90 bridge throughout the summer season.