Police Commission Reviews Calls For Service

OCEAN CITY – Data provided in a monthly police update had resort officials this week questioning a significant drop in officer calls for service.

On Monday, Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) Chief Ross Buzzuro presented members of the Ocean City Police Commission with his report on police activity for the month of May.

While citizen calls for services experienced a slight increase, he noted officer calls for service dropped from 3,179 in May 2022 to 2,100 in May 2023.

“Officer calls for service were significantly lower this past year,” he told the commission.

Councilman Peter Buas questioned the decrease. He pointed out officer calls for service dropped by roughly 1,000.

“Is that a good thing or a bad thing?” he asked.

Buzzuro noted it was a good thing, as fewer calls for service could indicate more compliance and fewer violations. He noted those numbers were also indicative of things such as visitation and population.

“It’s a good thing overall,” he said.

Buas also pointed to the number of smoking violations on the Boardwalk, which has decreased from 121 in May 2022 to two in May 2023.

“I wonder it that’s a lack of presence versus crime,” he said. “It seems odd we would drop from 121 to two.”

Buzzuro said there was less of a police presence on the Boardwalk last month. He noted, however, that those numbers could change in June.

“I’ll know more next month when we see the June numbers,” he said, “because we will have a full complement out there every day.”

Officials noted that weather had impacted visitation to Ocean City during the month of May, which in turn impacted deployment on the Boardwalk.

Buzzuro said the police department was strategically placing officers in areas with higher calls for service. City Manager Terry McGean said he had joined police officers on patrol last Friday night and witnessed several issues at the under 21 night club.

“That was probably two-thirds to three-quarters of the issues and the calls we saw …,” he said. “It was almost nonstop.”

McGean said most of the issues occurred just outside the night club.

“There are people coming in and preying, for lack of a better term, on the kids that are hanging around that location …,” he said. “It’s not necessarily what’s going on in there, it’s people who are waiting for the kids to come out of there to sell them whatever.”

Buzzuro told commission members he had police officers stationed near the night club.

“The data shows, and we know, that it’s an area where we know we have a number of calls,” he explained.

Officials this week also presented commission members with an update on seasonal police officer and lifeguard recruitment.

Emergency Services Director Joe Theobald said two testing dates in recent weeks garnered 18 recruits.

“We had 13 that tested last August that will be going to the academy starting next week, so 31 is the number,” he explained. “We are certainly holding our own. If we do successfully keep all 31, we’d be slightly less than the number we had last year.”

Theobald noted the beach patrol was also deploying all of its ATVs this season.

He said that has helped with coverage on the beach.

“I think we’re in good shape for this summer,” he added. “I know the additional incentives you had approved have made a big difference this year.”

Mayor Rick Meehan applauded the success of recent testing dates.

“Hiring 18 in the last two weeks is excellent,” he said.

Theobald agreed.

“They have recruited more people this year than ever before,” he said.