No matter the reason, the good news is the volume of vehicles and troublemakers in Ocean City last weekend was done considerably.
The data confirms what the eyes saw – a lot less people were in Ocean City than expected last weekend and there were minimal problems with those who were visiting the resort. According to police data, significant reductions were seen in all major categories, including a 19% decrease in traffic stops, a 36% dip in calls for service, 45% decline in traffic citations, a 73% plummet in tows, a 57% drop in exhibition driving charges and 52% less arrests. Overall, there was a tremendous drop in police activity.
No matter the weekend’s surprising calm, the questions now facing local authorities are many. Was the decline a direct result of previous years’ crackdowns by police through the special enforcement zone? Did the massive fines imposed last year and towing policy make a difference? Have the unruly realized Ocean City is not the place? Will the pop-up rally return on another weekend soon? Was this year’s quiet a trend in the right direction or an anomaly?
The answers to these questions cannot be answered today. There is too much uncertainty. It’s impossible to make sound conclusions. What’s known is it was the quietest pop-up rally weekend since 2018 when weather was to credit for cutting down on the hostile activity. It was a relief.
Ocean City Police Chief Ross Buzzuro said in a statement Sunday, “This year, the combined measures of the Ocean City community and our allied agencies resulted in a significant decrease from last year’s event. While we experienced isolated incidents, the event overall was much different than years past.”
Time will tell whether all the various changes in enforcement are bearing fruit. The pop-up weekend did not become the unruly nightmare it’s been in recent years in one year and the city would be wise to not rest on its laurels. The pressure must continue to be applied.
All indications are the city understands this is not a trend yet, but there’s reason to be optimistic moving forward. There’s a difference between being hopeful and celebratory. There is no reason to rejoice anything yet. Law enforcement’s message of no tolerance through major fines and tows to the troublemakers may be resonating, but this year’s relative peace could have also just been an outlier. This time next year the picture will be clearer. In the meantime, the city must approach next September in the same manner as it has in recent years.