OCEAN CITY – Law enforcement officials in Ocean City are reporting a substantial increase in citations for smoking on the beach and Boardwalk, highlighting the police department’s efforts to enforce the town’s smoking ordinance.
In 2015, Ocean City passed an ordinance that banned smoking on the beach and Boardwalk, except within 15 feet of a designated smoking area. Last month, however, the Mayor and Council voted to amend the ordinance to include marijuana and vaping and subsequently requested the Ocean City Police Commission review enforcement efforts for the smoking ban.
To that end, Ocean City Police Chief Ross Buzzuro on Monday presented the commission with a report on the number of citations issued for smoking, skateboarding and animal violations along the Boardwalk during the month of June.
Buzzuro noted that smoking citations along the Boardwalk were up more than 1,000 percent from the same month last year. He said the police department reported 32 smoking citations in June of 2017 and 354 smoking citations in June of 2018.
“As you can see, the numbers are very significant,” he said.
Councilman Wayne Hartman asked what the police department was doing to enforce the town’s smoking ordinance throughout the summer.
“Where are we now on enforcement?” he said. “Has it been consistent all summer?”
While he noted that fines for smoking on the Boardwalk have reduced, Buzzuro said officers remained vigilant of any violations.
“We are still very proactive in terms of smoking on the Boardwalk and that will carry out through the rest of the summer,” he said.
Mayor Rick Meehan attested to the police department’s efforts. He said this week, for example, he witnessed officers approach individuals violating alcohol ordinances and pet regulations.
“They are on the beach doing their job,” he said.
Council Secretary Mary Knight also commended the department’s efforts.
“I see a much better Boardwalk,” she said, “I really do.”
The commission on Monday also received a positive report on calls for service for the month of June.
Buzzuro reported that calls for service from officers were down more than 8 percent from last June, while calls for service from citizens were down more than 15 percent.
“All in all, we had a very good June and the numbers reflect that,” he said.
Buzzuro also noted that calls for service for disorderly conduct were down from 991 in June of 2017 to 712 last month, while calls for service for theft were down from 221 to 169.
“That’s a considerable drop off from last year,” he said. “We did have more noise complaints and violations overall, so we are proactive with that as well, not only with us initiating and handling those but also addressing citizen calls as well.”
Buzzuro said he was happy with reports from last month.
“We had a very, very good June,” he said. “I believe it’s the best June we’ve had since I’ve been chief, and it was my fifth.”
Hartman added that poor weather could have played a role in the number of calls for service.
“I think the weather is a big part of that …,” he said. “I think it all makes sense.”