Ocean City Police Seasonal Hiring Down From Last Year

OCEAN CITY – How marijuana use affects seasonal officer recruitment highlighted discussions at a resort commission meeting this week.

In an Ocean City Police Commission meeting Monday, Police Chief Ross Buzzuro presented the department’s final recruitment numbers for the coming summer season. With testing now completed, he noted the department has hired 29 seasonal officers and 52 public safety aides (PSAs).

“We’re at a total of 81,” he said, “as opposed to 90 last year.”

For decades, the Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) has enhanced its workforce with seasonal officers and PSAs during the summer months. And while interest in the seasonal program gained some momentum two years ago, recruitment continued to lag throughout the winter months.

In this week’s update, Buzzuro noted that the OCPD has hired 23 new seasonal officers and six returning seasonal officers, for a total of 29 seasonal officers in 2023.

“Last year, we had 42,” he told the commission. “There were 37 new seasonal officers and five returns.”

Buzzuro added that the department has also hired 40 new PSAs and 12 return PSAs for a total of 52 PSAs in 2023.

“Last year, we had 48,” he said. “So if there’s a bright spot, it would be that.”

Council President Matt James, commission member, questioned the department’s failure rate.

“What’s the percentage of failure once the academy starts?” he asked.

Buzzuro said it was minimal. He said those that do drop out tend to do so within the first week.

“I will tell you we had one that started the academy that for whatever reason was converted to a PSA,” he explained. “We will generally lose one or two the first weekend and then it stabilizes from there.”

Mayor Rick Meehan also questioned the department’s application process, and the failure rate for those that apply for seasonal positions.

“Out of the total applicants, what’s the number one reason they fall out?” he asked.

Officials noted the number one reason was failed background checks. Meehan questioned if that had to do with marijuana usage. Police officers report seasonal candidates who have used marijuana in the two years prior are eliminated from the process.

“Does a lot of it still have to do with the time period of the last time they smoked marijuana?” Meehan asked.

Officials said that and other discrepancies contributed to the failure rate. Buzzuro, however, noted that the time period for marijuana abstinence would soon be lowered to one year.

“There’s a difference in the caliber of applicants than what we saw in years past,” he said. “I think some of that has to do with where we are in current times.”

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.