OCEAN CITY – While the total number of service calls decreased in the month of July, a report on police activity highlighted an increase in calls related to disorderly conduct, domestic incidents, and theft, among other things.
On Monday, Ocean City Police Chief Ross Buzzuro presented the Ocean City Police Commission with an update on police activity for the month of July.
Last month, officer calls for service decreased 30% – from 7,204 calls in July 2019 to 5,046 calls in July 2020 – and citizen calls for service increased 12.6%. In the top 25 calls for service, the department reported 1,075 911 hang ups, 857 calls to assist citizens and 1,320 calls for city ordinance violations.
“When we delve in a little deeper into the top 25 calls for service, the No. 1 call for service was city ordinance violation. Last year we were just under 3,000. This year there were 1,320, which is a decrease of 1,659,” Buzzuro said. “Probably the best reason for this is just the prioritization in activity. Officers have been busy spending time dealing with offenses going on with other incidents, prioritizing their enforcement efforts but not necessarily in terms of city ordinance violations.”
Councilman and commission member Matt James also attributed the decrease to fewer Boardwalk patrons. He noted most ordinance violations occurred on the promenade.
“We probably saw less people on the Boardwalk this year than last year,” he said.
Buzzuro noted that calls for theft and malicious destruction of property increased last month. The police department also reported a nearly 100% increase in calls for domestic assaults, which Burruzo attributed to stay-at-home measures associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This is a direct correlation to COVID and people being inside together…,” he said. “This is not just a trend in Ocean City. This is virtually throughout the country.”
Buzzuro also noted that disorderly calls increased from 487 in July 2019 to 656 last month.
“That is a gauge for us as far as behavior throughout town,” he said.
In July, the police department reported 444 custodial arrest, 39 drug arrests and 102 drug citations for marijuana.
“Drug citations have doubled from where they were last year from marijuana,” Buzzuro said. “We continue to address this burgeoning issue.”
Buzzuro noted that enforcement for Boardwalk smoking also remains a priority for the police department. For example, the number of smoking citations increased from 17 in July 2019 to 44 last month, representing a 159% increase.