Seasonal Recruitment Challenges Continue

Seasonal Recruitment Challenges Continue
File photo by Chris Parypa

OCEAN CITY – Despite seasonal recruitment challenges, Ocean City’s police chief says he hopes to have a full complement of officers on the job this summer.

In Monday’s meeting of the Ocean City Police Commission, Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) Chief Ross Buzzuro presented members 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 (PSAs) during the summer months. And while interest in the seasonal program gained some momentum last summer, Buzzuro told commission members that recruitment efforts remained a challenge.

“If there’s good news, it’s we have less immediate failures than we’ve seen in years past,” he said this week. “Obviously, our vetting process continues to work for us, and we are attracting some really good people.”

To date, the police department has received 115 applications for seasonal officer positions and 47 applications for PSA positions. Those numbers, Buzzuro noted, were down from 198 seasonal officer applicants and 65 PSA applicants in 2021.

“Getting across the finish line, we don’t know exactly what that number will be,” he said. “We have less than we had last year.”

Buzzuro told commission members, however, that the goal was to have just as many seasonal officers and PSAs as last year.
“We want to try to get to as many as we can,” he said. “But if we’re right around 100 we’ll be pretty close to where we were last year.”

Buzzuro added that seasonal recruitment challenges would be mitigated by the hiring of 10 additional full-time officers.

“There’s a tradeoff and that’s a pretty good tradeoff to have,” he explained. “If we’re going to be at a deficit with seasonal police officers, our new full-time officers will be able to fill whatever void that may bring.”

Officials reported this week that recruitment challenges continued to plague other resort departments as well, including public works and beach patrol. In a report to the commission, Emergency Services Director Joe Theobald noted that beach patrol was 35% behind on its recruitment, compared to the same period in 2021.

“Right now, we’ve tested 34 candidates, and we’ve offered 14 …,” City Manager Terry McGean told commission members this week. “At this time last year, we tested 77 and offered 41. But we are one academy behind right now.”

He noted, however, that return rates looked promising.

“The encouraging number is the percent of returning guards, which is 90% of 177 that responded …,” he said. “At this time, Joe believes he is not going to have an issue manning the beach for the season.”

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.