OCEAN CITY – A positive report on recruitment and enforcement statistics highlighted a resort commission meeting this week.
On Monday, Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) Chief Ross Buzzuro presented the Ocean City Police Commission with an update on seasonal recruitment efforts.
For decades, the OCPD has enhanced its workforce with seasonal officers and public safety aides (PSA) during the summer months.
And while the department has reported a slight decline in the number of PSA applicants for this year, Buzzuro said recruitment numbers for seasonal officer positions have improved.
“We are faring a little bit better than anticipated in regard to recruitment,” he told commission members this week. “Last year at this time we had 88 seasonal officer applicants. This year so far we’ve had 144.”
On the PSA side, however, Buzzuro said the police department reported 52 applicants.
“We had 64 last year,” he said. “We’re hoping the next couple events we have for hiring we have a good showing.”
Capt. Elton Harmon anticipates the number of PSA applicants to increase as testing continued in January and February.
“I think the numbers initially are good,” he said. “I also keep in mind that those who don’t make it through the entire (seasonal officer) process, we are also pushing them to the PSA side … I think the PSA numbers are a little deceptive right now. They will increase and balance out.”
When asked about returning seasonal officers, Harmon said the department had hired several for full-time positions.
“With a large hiring group … the numbers weren’t quite what they were in the past,” he replied, “but still strong.”
In terms of full-time sworn officers, Buzzuro said the department was at full strength.
“We have nine currently in the academy, and we had a lateral join us as well,” he said. “So we are right at 112.”
Buzzuro told commission members this week the OCPD had reported a degree of success in hiring full-time officers this year, even as departments across the country continue to face officer shortages.
“A number of agencies on the shore and beyond the state of Maryland are having significant problems, he said. “They have vacancies in their agencies.”
Councilman and commission member Lloyd Martin attributed the agency’s success to the town’s seasonal officer program.
“We get most of those from our seasonal program,” he said. “And that’s what really helps us.”
Buzzuro on Monday also presented the commission with a report on police activity for the month of December, as well as a comparison of municipal and parking citations issued by PSAs and officers over a three-year period.
In 2018, officers and PSAs issued 4,385 parking citations and 886 payable municipal citations. And in 2019, officers and PSAs issued 5,143 parking citations and 614 municipal citations. In 2020, the department reported issuing 8,846 parking citations and 767 municipal citations.
“In 2019, we had some of the lowest crime levels in almost 30 years,” he said. “We didn’t experience the activity that we realized or experienced on the Boardwalk in 2020, and yet the citations – even though we were dealing with all the significant issues that were downtown on the Boardwalk – our proactive stance bore out in these statistics.”
Meehan continued to stress the importance of enforcing all city ordinances.
“I think the consistent message we’re hearing … is just strict enforcement of all of our ordinances,” he said. “That means even the most minor of ordinances because if you establish the rules of the game early on they simply carry over. They also tend to, in some ways, discourage them mentally into other types of crimes.”