OCEAN CITY — Long-time Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) Sergeant Mark Paddack was feted with a special retirement ceremony this week after a remarkable 28-year of “boots on the ground” with the department.
Paddack began his career with the OCPD as a seasonal officer in 1989 and was hired as full-time officer in 1990. Over the next nearly three decades, Paddack rose through the ranks and was instrumental in the growth and development of the department through a time of great change. For example, he was the co-founder of the OCPD’s bicycle patrol and was also instrumental in the development of the Citizens Police Academy.
He has held several leadership positions with the OCPD during his illustrious career including the forensics services unit, the noise enforcement unit, the firearms training unit, the Property Review and Enforcement Strategies for Safe Housing (PRESS) committee and perhaps more importantly the Quick Response Team (QRT). Paddack earned numerous awards and citations over his 28-year career and was named at different times the Neighborhood Watch Officer of the Year and the Elks Lodge Officer of the Year.
During an emotional ceremony on Tuesday, Mayor Rick Meehan read into the record a proclamation honoring Paddack and presented the retiring officer with a key to the city for his long service. Meehan said retirement ceremonies for long-time employees and civil servants were always difficult, but Paddack’s was especially challenging.
“These are always bittersweet, this one especially,” he said. “For 28 years, his boots were on the ground in Ocean City and he played a big role in the development of our police department. I think he has walked every square foot of ground in Ocean City, but it’s now time for him to move on to a new chapter in his life.”
Throughout his long career with the department and the seemingly endless number of units on which he served, Paddack always had a connection with the citizens, a connection he nurtured through his involvement in other organizations in the community, according to OCPD Chief Ross Buzzuro.
“He realized early on the importance of a positive relationship between the police and the community,” he said. “He truly has been an ambassador for our department. With the myriad of things he has done with this department, he had done the work of many in the community.”
Buzzuro related a story of Paddack working bike patrol on the Boardwalk when he heard a woman screaming and interceded to stop an active rape case.
“Mark was able to rescue her and arrested the suspect,” he said. “That case was so profound it earned him a trip to the White House. The bike unit was fairly new at the time and that incident really changed policing here. In 2015, when we were asked to assist with the riots in Baltimore when the city was at its worst, he was one of the first to sign up to help. I could go on and on.”
When it was his turn to speak, Paddack launched into an emotional, heart-felt recounting of some of the highlights of his career and took the time to thank the Mayor and Council, the various city departments and particularly his colleagues in the OCPD over the years. A tearful Paddack went through several props during what he appropriately called his street performer presentation, including the handcuffs he carried for 28 years, which he presented to Meehan.
“This is a bittersweet moment for me,” he said. “Earlier this week I was getting emails from my colleagues in the department about things I’ve forgotten in my career and I sat in a police car bawling. When I gathered myself, I fired an email back to the chief telling him I was sad and didn’t want to retire. I spent 28 years and 30 summers, including five on a bike on the Boardwalk, trying to make a difference in the community and this is the last day I will be wearing this uniform.”