Ocean Pines Agrees To Explore Police Building Expansion

Ocean Pines Agrees To Explore Police Building Expansion

OCEAN PINES – Plans to expand the outdated and overgrown Ocean Pines Police Department are expected to move forward following a decision by the Ocean Pines Association Board of Directors this week.

The board voted unanimously on Tuesday to solicit bids for the design and construction of an expansion of the Ocean Pines Police Department. The project, which has been discussed for years, would address various deficiencies at the facility, which occupies space in the Ocean Pines administration building.

“It is absolutely deplorable and unacceptable that any of our facilities used by people can be operated in that condition,” board member Frank Daly said. “It is a safety issue for the officers, it is a safety issue for victims, it’s a safety issue for suspects. It needs to be corrected and it needs to be corrected now.”

Daly, who made the motion to proceed with collecting bids, said the project had been discussed since at least 2013 but had made no progress. Changing board priorities resulted in the expansion being shifted out of two recent budgets. The motion passed this week directs the general manager to contact a minimum of three design/build construction firms regarding the project, which Daly hopes can move forward in the first quarter of 2019.

During a tour of the police department after Tuesday’s board decision, Chief David Massey said the expansion was long overdue. The department, a 1,700-square-foot space adjacent to Ocean Pines’ administrative offices, was built in 1985.

“There were no criminal justice consultants involved,” he said.

The department’s cramped lobby doubles as an interview room, where victims are asked to share their story. They often do so within sight of suspects, who can be seen just beyond the front desk, in the adjacent officers’ workroom. The suspects are interviewed there, at a large table in the midst of officer workstations.

“We have no additional space since we had six officers,” Massey said. “Now we’ve got 16.”

Beyond the workroom, the station features a couple offices and two cells as well as a breakroom, ammunition room and locker space in a hallway leading to a bathroom. The breakroom, so called because of a resident refrigerator and coffee maker, does not however, feature any seating. Instead, the space is taken up by storage cabinets and heaps of equipment.

Massey says the expansion is not a luxury but a necessity.

“The building is not safe,” he said. “It’s Rube Goldberg’s mousetrap.”

According to Massey, a criminal justice firm that evaluated the station in 2016 recommended a facility of 5,300 square feet for Pines police. Aside from the lack of space in the existing station, Massey, who was involved in planning the Ocean City Public Safety Building, said there was simply no logic to its layout. One of the station’s cells sits in a cramped corner, while the lack of a sally port means suspects are brought in through the building’s side door, within sight of anyone in the parking lot of the administration building or community center.

“The building’s unsafe,” Massey said. “This has no rhyme or reason.”

He added that the existing facility certainly didn’t help recruitment efforts, as the department was a far cry from facilities in nearby municipalities.

“I don’t think anybody who walks in here is going to say this is acceptable,” Massey said. “It’s a no brainer.”

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.