Ocean City Eyes More Surveillance Cameras; Chief: Program Has ‘Worked Very, Very Well’

Ocean City Eyes More Surveillance Cameras; Chief: Program Has ‘Worked Very, Very Well’
File photo by Chris Parypa

OCEAN CITY – A proposal to expand the City Watch surveillance camera system received a favorable recommendation from the town’s police commission this week.

In the interest of public safety, the Ocean City Police Commission voted unanimously this week to forward a request from Police Chief Ross Buzzuro to expand the City Watch program to the Mayor and Council with a favorable recommendation.

“This is the way of the future and we have to be proactive,” Mayor Rick Meehan said. “If our chief is requesting that and it will assist the department, I think we should support his request.”

Nearly six years ago, the town developed its City Watch surveillance camera system. Buzzuro said since that time the program has become a valuable asset for law enforcement and emergency services.

Last summer, for example, the City Watch program was credited with the apprehension of a suspect wanted in connection with a double stabbing on the Boardwalk. Officials added the system is frequently used in the summer months to locate lost children.

“The Boardwalk is covered in terms of cameras in the City Watch program,” Buzzuro said. “It’s worked very, very well.”

To that end, a request was made this week to support the expansion of the City Watch program to areas west of the Boardwalk.

“Our vision is to see the expansion, the next phase, cover Baltimore Avenue and move west and north, and take it from there incrementally in phases moving forward,” Buzzuro said. “I can tell you there is a great deal of upside. It’s additional eyes and ears 24/7 … Whether it’s 105 degrees or 5 degrees, those cameras generally don’t shut down from the task they’ve been given. Whether it’s before an incident happens, during an incident or after an incident, the cameras have been very useful to us as a resource.”

Emergency Services Director Joe Theobald supported the expansion.

“We’re covered very well on the Boardwalk at this point, and it’s time to start moving west and covering Baltimore, getting up to the 3rd Street corridor and some of the alleyways,” he said. “It’s proven itself, it’s on 24/7, and it’s made a difference.”

Meehan noted the expansion would become a budgetary issue moving forward. But he said efforts to grow the City Watch program aligned with the town’s focus on public safety.

“We talked about it even in the strategic planning …,” he said. “Public safety is our number one priority.”

Buzzuro said between 10 and 15 camera locations have been identified through site surveys. He said the expansion would also include streets between the Boardwalk and Baltimore Avenue.

“There are countless success stories and we want to continue on with the next phase, or phases, to increase the City Watch program …,” he said. “We know from a technology standpoint and from a fiber standpoint we have the ability to move forward.”

The commission this week also approved a request from the owners of Red Red Wine Bar and Dry 85 to close a section of 48th Street east of Coastal Highway to accommodate its second annual block party.

The temporary road closure – scheduled for March 14 – will coincide with the Ocean City St. Patrick’s Day Parade and will include road closure and crowd control barriers, traffic access at 47th and 49th streets, extra parking, and an extension of the premises for serving patrons.

“We are asking for the same thing we asked for last year, a partial shutdown of 48th Street for a limited time on St. Patrick’s Day parade day,” owner Brian Bolter said. “It went super smooth last year.”

With the commission’s approval, the traffic regulation will go before the Mayor and Council on Dec. 16.

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.