OC Police Chief Remains Confident In Seasonal Staffing

OCEAN CITY – As recruitment efforts conclude, Ocean City Police Chief Ross Buzzuro said he remains confident the resort will have adequate coverage ahead of the summer season.

On Monday, Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) Chief Ross Buzzuro presented members of the town’s Police Commission with an update on recruitment efforts.

For decades, the OCPD has enhanced its workforce with seasonal officers and public safety aides (PSAs) during the summer. And while officials have been vocal about recruitment challenges in recent months, Buzzuro told commission members Monday he remains optimistic heading into the summer season.

“All in all, it’s a challenging environment,” he said. “But we are going to be at an acceptable level.”

As of the March testing date, OCPD reported having 115 seasonal officer applicants, with 49 total failures, 26 conditional hires and 17 remaining in the process.

“Of that 17, 15 have passed a polygraph, one has failed, and one has been offered a PSA position,” he explained. “However, we don’t know if that individual will accept that position.”

Buzzuro noted, however, that the number of seasonal officer applicants was significantly less than in years past. The police department received 198 applicants in 2021, 158 applicants in 2020 and 200 applicants in 2019.

“Our best estimate is we will have around 41 new seasonal officers,” he said. “We have five return seasonal officers.”

On the PSA side, Buzzuro noted that the police department had 50 applicants, with 18 total failures, 22 conditional hires and 13 remaining in the process.

“Our best estimate is there are going to be 35 new public safety aides,” he said. “Add on the 21 saying they would be returning, and the total number is 56.”

In total, Buzzuro said the OCPD could have 102 seasonal officers and PSAs this summer.

“That is the absolute best possibility,” he said. “I still believe we’re going to be in that 80 to 90 range once we get to the start date and hit the ground running.”

He noted, however, that the department had 110 full-time officers.

“I believe we are going to see the number of officers fairly consistent with where we were last year, and we’ll have enough coverage to be fully operational in the field,” he said.

Councilman Lloyd Martin, commission president, noted recruitment remained a challenge across both the public and private sector.

“We’re struggling everywhere right now,” he said.

City Manager Terry McGean pointed out the police department was in a better position in terms of recruitment.

“I actually think the police are the ones in better shape,” he said. “Maintenance and beach patrol are struggling.”

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.