OCEAN CITY – Ocean City’s police chief highlighted seasonal recruitment challenges at a resort committee meeting last week.
On Dec. 13, Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) Chief Ross Buzzuro presented the Ocean City Police Commission with an update on recruitment efforts for the coming summer season.
For decades, the OCPD has enhanced its workforce with seasonal officers and public safety aides (PSA) during the summer months. And while interest in the seasonal program gained some momentum last summer, Buzzuro told commission members this month that recruitment efforts ahead of 2022 were slow-moving.
“Moving forward, we are very sluggish,” he said. “It’s a very, very challenging environment. We are having extreme difficulty getting people through the door.”
Through the November hiring process, officials reported 49 seasonal officer applicants, with nine failures, one conditional hire and 32 candidates remaining in the hiring process. This time last year, OCPD had 106 applicants, with 34 failures, six conditional hires and 38 candidates remaining in the hiring process.
In regard to public safety aides, Buzzuro said the police department had 19 applicants, three failures and no conditional hires. This time last year, officials reported 22 PSA applicants, four failures and two conditional hires.
“Like I said, from officers to public safety aides, people coming through the door are significantly less than last year,” he said.
Buzzuro told commission members this week the police department would continue to monitor recruitment efforts. He noted upcoming test dates included Dec. 18-19, Jan. 8-9 and Jan. 29-30.
“We’ll see how we fare after this weekend,” he said.
Buzzuro noted that recruitment challenges continued to plague law enforcement agencies, both locally and nationally.
“We continue to do whatever we can do to attract people,” he said. “We’ve had some discussion about what are some of the things we can do to give us a helping hand.”
Buzzuro this week also provided commission members with an update on police activity for the month of November. He said a closer look at statistics show police activity being slightly lower or on par with police activity in November 2019, the most recent pre-pandemic data.
“For us, all in all, we are consistent with where we were two years ago, and that’s a good thing,” he said.
In the top 25 calls for service, citizen assists decreased from 130 in November 2019 to 93 last month, disorderly calls increased from 28 to 44 and traffic stops increased from 358 to 490.
Buzzuro noted that the number of traffic stops had increased considerably as a result of speed enforcement initiatives along 142nd Street.
“That is because we were doing proactive enforcement up at 142nd Street, to address that traffic issue up there,” he said. “So quite a number of those traffic stops go back to those initiatives.”