OCEAN CITY – The purchase of a side-by-side patrol vehicle is expected to improve police presence on the Boardwalk.
On Monday, members of the Ocean City Police Commission voted unanimously to send a request for the purchase of the small vehicle to the full council for consideration.
Ocean City Police Chief Ross Buzzuro told the commission this week the purchase would improve police presence on the Boardwalk and make traversing the promenade easier for law enforcement personnel.
“Safety measures have been put in place at the Boardwalk,” he said. “To get vehicles from off the Boardwalk to on the Boardwalk can be a little bit cumbersome, opening the gates and whatnot. This vehicle can be placed up there for many hours throughout the day, almost exclusively for the Boardwalk.”
In fiscal year 2021, the police department budgeted $38,000 to replace the sally port doors at the Public Safety Building. But in its selection of non-insulated doors, the police department discovered it would save $14,108.
To that end, Buzzuro came before the commission this week with a plan to purchase a Kawasaki Mule Side by Side using those savings. The police department would need to find the remaining $5,887 in its operating budget to meet the cost of the vehicle, estimated at $19,995.
“The savings on not insulating the doors leaves about $5,887 that would need to be covered for the cost of this, and we believe we can absorb this within our budget,” he said. “Obviously, we are presenting it to you first.”
City Manager Doug Miller told the commission that unbudgeted items costing more than $15,000 needs council approval.
“It’s an unbudgeted expense, even though it can be covered internally,” he said.
Officials noted the six-passenger vehicle is small enough to access the Boardwalk and can be used on the beach. But Councilman Matt James questioned if the department had explored other options.
He noted that other departments had similar vehicles. Using the same model, he said, the town could save on maintenance costs.
“We can make sure that’s taken into consideration,” Buzzuro replied.
Buzzuro added the department would save money by using spare parts to up fit the vehicle.
“As you all know, the cost of up fitting a vehicle is considerable …,” he said. “We should be able to cover that with existing surplus parts from other vehicles in the fleet.”
With no further discussion, the commission voted 3-0 – with James, Mayor Rick Meehan and Council Secretary Mary Knight in favor – to send the request to the council for consideration. Council President and commission member Lloyd Martin was absent from the meeting.
“I know we talked about visibility on the Boardwalk in terms of vehicles being up there,” Buzzuro said. “This may be a reasonable alternative to a cruiser being up there … Also the beach will be accessible by using this Mule.”