Recruitment Challenges Continue For OC Police

OCEAN CITY – As the summer season inches closer, Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) Chief Ross Buzzuro says opportunities remain to recruit seasonal officers and public safety aides.

On Monday, Buzzuro presented members of the Ocean City Police Commission with an update on recruitment efforts for the coming summer season. While he noted the applicant pool was smaller this year, Buzzuro pointed out the department anticipated additional candidates to attend its upcoming testing dates.

“We remain optimistic as we finish up,” he said this week.

For decades, the OCPD has enhanced its workforce with seasonal officers and public safety aides (PSAs) during the summer months. And while interest in the seasonal program gained some momentum last summer, Buzzuro told commission members in December that recruitment efforts ahead of the 2022 season were slow-moving.

“As previously mentioned, we’ve been challenged with recruitment,” he said this week. “So far we have 75 new seasonal officers that have applied. There were almost 200 in 2021.”

Through the month of January, the police department reported having 75 seasonal officer applicants, with 19 failures, 9 conditional hires and 34 still in the recruitment process.

The department also reported having 35 PSA applicants, with 10 total failures, six conditional hires and 17 still in the recruitment process. Buzzuro noted the number of PSA applicants was less than the 65 that OCPD received last year.

Buzzuro said that inclement weather had also hindered recruitment efforts.

“I also want to point out that we did have to cancel the previously scheduled recruitment testing weekend due to inclement weather,” he said. “So that also puts us kind of behind the eight ball with testing.”

Buzzuro told commission members, however, that the department would host two more testing dates in February and March.

“We do have 30-plus [seasonal officers] that have indicated that they will show up and test, so that looks promising,” he said. “Also, we do have seasonals that are interested in coming back, upwards of 18 and four have confirmed.”

When asked about reserve officers later in the meeting, Buzzuro said they were typically assigned to in-house jobs.

“In no way, shape or form are those officers looked at as being put back into the field, handling calls,” he said. “That’s not the nature of the reserve officers.”

He noted many reserve officers – those law enforcement officers who come back to work for the OCPD after retiring – assist in the vetting of applicants during recruitment.

“It’s not like an alternative or panacea to offset the deficit we have for seasonal officers and plugging them out on the streets,” Buzzuro explained. “It’s not what they’re there for.”

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.