Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk – March 24, 2023

Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk – March 24, 2023

Last year seemed quieter than usual on the crime front in Ocean City, and the annual police report confirmed as much this week. Nearly every indicator – such as calls for service, assaults and serious crimes – were down considerably in 2022 compared to 2021. This is good news and seems to be a trend since the concerning pandemic summer of 2020 when a series of major assaults dominated the headlines. It was hoped at the time that concerning summer was an anomaly due to unique economic and travel circumstances caused by the pandemic. The numbers of recent years are confirming it appears the season was an outlier to a degree.

Some key takeaways from the Ocean City Police Department’s 24-page annual crime report include a 28% reduction in officer assaults from 2021 to 2022 (credited to body cameras); a 4% drop in serious crimes; and a 23% decrease in criminal citations issued by police. In presenting the report to the Ocean City Mayor and Council, Police Chief Ross Buzzuro pointed out, “In 2022, we recorded 1,579 Part I crimes … Looking back, it’s the second lowest we’ve had in 30 years. We’re not only below where we were pre-COVID, but we’re moving in a direction to our all-time statistical lows in terms of Part I crimes.”

It was also interesting to note Buzzuro touched on the first year of Ocean City police officers wearing body-worn cameras during his report. The chief credited the cameras with resulting in less Taser use and the 28% reduction in police assaults last year compared to 2021. He said, “It’s already paying dividends … What we’re already seeing is increased public confidence in our police department. We are seeing less use of force. We’re seeing a reduction in complaints. So that resource, that asset, is already working really well for us.” This does not even mention the built-in accountability the cameras provide in the event police officers’ use of force is questioned during arrests.

Making a public statement bashing passionate supporters of the Gavin Knupp justice quest was a strange play last Saturday by Ocean Pines Association Board President Doug Parks. The comments in general showed questionable judgment, but what was intolerable was specifically connecting a potential rising assessment for Ocean Pines property owners to the ordeal if citizens did not begin to defend the yacht club. It’s particularly interesting when assessments are proposed to be slight declined in the proposed budget.

In trying to call out the supporters who have arguably from time to time gone too far with their online comments and personal attacks, Parks essentially did the same thing he claimed against the subjects of his comment. Parks did some of his own bullying when he maintained if community citizens didn’t step in and stop the vitriol from some supporters of justice in the Gavin Knupp case it could hit them in the wallet. He said, “When will they stop? I can answer that – they won’t. This is a call to all Ocean Pines Association members – raise your voices and be heard. We cannot let this vigilante group run roughshod over our community. By their actions and social media posts, they have demonstrated they care nothing about Ocean Pines and will go to whatever lengths it takes to disrupt our community and our livelihood…. Talk to your friends, talk to your neighbors and talk to other association members to let them know these situations are taking place and that this group is promoting a level of disruption to our community that at some point will affect us financially, which in turn will most likely lead to an increase in annual assessments.”

This statement has done nothing but further incense the ardent Knupp supporters further and make the Ocean Pines Association Board look foolish. Through their attorney, the Knupp family simply said, “We see no reason to respond to a statement which confirms that the OPA elevates its own interests above those of the residents they were elected to serve. We remain focused on the Foundation and honoring Gavin’s memory.”

After a year of far too many events being canceled by the weather, it was a relief to see the St. Patrick’s Day Parade held in Ocean City earlier this month. The weather was far from ideal, but organizers made the right call in staying the course with the event and not canceling it amid a concerning weather forecast.

In fact, Ocean City had double weekends to celebrate St. Patricks Day based on how the calendar fell. The parade weekend was huge for bars, restaurants and hotels and last weekend was solid as well with the actual “holiday” falling on March 17 and the weather a bit more tolerable.

It was widely reported by the business community as a strong stretch of weekends for mid-March. In fact, Shenanigans on the Boardwalk posted some data showing the volume of what went into celebrating all things Irish over two long weekends. Over eight total days of operations, the bar hosted 43 hours of live Irish music and served 830 pounds of corned beef. Patrons consumed 31 kegs of Guinness and 99 bottles of Irish whiskey. The bar also mentioned 810 runners for the annual Boardwalk run on parade day morning. Five charities were also supported with 31 staff members serving customers in one fashion or another.

About The Author: Steven Green

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The writer has been with The Dispatch in various capacities since 1995, including serving as editor and publisher since 2004. His previous titles were managing editor, staff writer, sports editor, sales account manager and copy editor. Growing up in Salisbury before moving to Berlin, Green graduated from Worcester Preparatory School in 1993 and graduated from Loyola University Baltimore in 1997 with degrees in Communications (journalism concentration) and Political Science.