OC Police Chief Confident In Summer Manpower Levels

OCEAN CITY – Despite a lower number of candidates for seasonal positions, Ocean City’s police chief said he remains confident the department will have enough recruits for the coming summer.

On Monday, Police Chief Ross Buzzuro presented the Ocean City Police Commission with an update on recruitment efforts for the 2020 summer season.

“We have lower numbers than we did in 2019,” he said.

At the end of February, the department had 116 seasonal police officer candidates and 70 public safety aide (PSA) candidates remaining after testing. The current rate of failure for seasonal police officer candidates and PSA candidates is 50% and 31.4%, respectively.

“We believe we will have enough combination of seasonal police officers and public safety aides,” Buzzuro said. “That number is quite sufficient for us as we start the season and work our way through the season.”

At the same time last year, the department had 153 seasonal officer candidates and 91 PSA candidates.

Buzzuro noted that 32 seasonal police officers and 37 PSAs will return for the coming summer season.

“Those folks that are on board with us again this year have great experience,” he said. “They’ve already been with us, so they’ll carry the load to a degree. Internally, we believe we will be well complemented for the season.”

Buzzuro this week also shared a report on police activity for the month of February.

Last month, citizen calls for service increased 11.2%, from 510 calls in February 2019 to 567 calls in February 2020. Officer calls for service increased 20.4%, from 1,014 calls last February to 1,221 this February.

“Calls for service are slightly up from last year …,” he said. “It’s not enough to be alarming or glaring.”

In the top 25 calls for service, traffic stops increased from 369 to 472, citizen assists increased from 87 to 119 and assistance to Ocean City EMS increased from 55 to 89.

Councilman Matt James, a member of the commission, questioned why the number of traffic stops increased last month.

Did we have more patrol officers out this February than last February?” he asked. “Is there a reason why we would have an increase?”

Buzzuro noted that mild weather may have been a factor in the number of calls for service.

“The only thing I can think of, and it’s very speculative, is we had a milder winter and there were more people in town …,” he said. “That could be a reason for the higher number of car stops, which is a difference of a couple more a day.”

Buzzuro also announced this week that the police department’s annual report will be presented to the Mayor and Council next week. The document will then be posted online for members of the public.

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.