OCPD Reports Summer Recruitment Challenges

OCPD Reports Summer Recruitment Challenges
File photo by Chris Parypa

OCEAN CITY – Ocean City’s police chief told members of a resort commission this week that seasonal recruitment efforts remain challenging.

On Monday, Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) Chief Ross Buzzuro presented members of 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 two years ago, Buzzuro told commission members this week that recruitment efforts ahead of 2023 were slow-moving.

“As I have stated previously, it is a challenging environment to not only attract, but to hire,” he said. “So we are doing our very best moving forward.”

Through the November testing process, the police department reported having 25 seasonal officer applicants, with four failures and 19 candidates remaining in the hiring process.

Last year, OCPD had 115 total applicants and 42 hires, five of which were returning to the force.

“Last year, to give you an idea, we had a total of 115 that came through …,” Buzzuro explained. “We do have at least four more testing dates, including this weekend.”

Buzzuro added that PSA recruitment also appeared to be sluggish.

To date, the department has had 10 applicants. In comparison, the department received 50 applications last year and had hired 48 public safety aides, 20 of which were returning.

“In July and October, we weren’t able to attract anyone for that position,” he told the commission. “In November, we did have 10 that came through. All 10 are still in the process.”

He acknowledged, however, that the department would continue to hold testing throughout the winter months. The next testing dates will be held Dec. 17-18.

“We need to increase those numbers,” he said. “And we can start this weekend and move through January, February, March, April until we have our final count.”

When asked about last year’s testing dates, Buzzuro noted that they were typically held on the same weekends each year.

“Sometimes, as we move into the winter, unfortunately we set things up and then we have bad weather that doesn’t make it easy for us to get people here,” he added.

The police commission this week also reviewed police activity for the month of November.

Last month, the department reported officer calls for service increased from 1,230 in November 2021 to 1,334 in November 2022, while citizen calls for service increased from 537 in 2021 to 558 in 2022.

“It seems that across the board we’re rather consistent,” Buzzuro told commission members.

In the top 25 calls for service, citizen assists increased from 93 to 117, EMS assists increased from 36 to 99 and traffic stops increased from 490 to 559.

“This year, there were more people in town …,” he explained. “So 559 is a higher number than we usually see.”

However, Buzzuro noted that most other calls for service had remained consistent throughout the month of November.

“There’s nothing real glaring or jumping out to us as far as police activity in town,” Buzzuro said.

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.