OCEAN CITY – Ocean City’s police chief said an enforcement shift has led to a significant increase in traffic stops and DUI arrests.
Last week, Police Chief Ross Buzzuro presented members of the Ocean City Police Commission with an update on police activity for the month of August. He noted that officer calls for service decreased from 3,002 in 2022 to 2,494 in 2023, while citizen calls for service decreased from 2,536 to 2,454.
“There were less calls for service in both areas,” he told the commission. “That excluded traffic stops, business checks, and assist citizen calls for service.”
In the top 25 calls for service, the police department reported a decrease in most line items. Buzzuro said calls for assisting motorists had decreased from 656 in 2022 to 584 in 2023, while parking violations had decreased from 471 to 376 and city ordinance violations had decreased from 396 to 267.
“The year before that they were at 702,” he added. “So there was a significant drop off.”
Buzzuro noted, however, that the police department continued to report an increase in 911 hangups. Comparing August of 2022 to August of 2023, 911 hangups had increased from 601 to 729.
“They were up, but not as significantly as we experienced in previous months throughout the summer,” he said. “But nonetheless, 128 more than last year.”
The department also reported a significant jump in the number of traffic stops. Buzzuro said traffic stops had increased from 517 last August to 918 this August.
“Traffic stops were up considerably from last year …,” he said. “That’s a difference of 400 car stops.”
Councilman Peter Buas, commission member, questioned if that increase was the result of additional enforcement. Buzzuro said a shift in operations accounted for the increase.
“We’re just being very proactive, and there’s been a little bit of a shift in terms of operations,” he replied. “It’s allowing us more time out on Coastal Highway.”
Taking a look at enforcement data for the month of August, Buzzuro said criminal citations had decreased from nine to seven while custodial arrests had decreased from 305 in 2021 and 228 in 2022 to 216 in 2023.
“That’s a considerable decrease,” he said, “of almost 100 or less in the last two summers.”
Drug arrests decreased from 21 to 10, drug citations for marijuana decreased from 30 to zero and weapons arrests decreased from 21 to 11.
Buzzuro noted, however, that DUI arrests increased from 23 to 46. He said fewer calls for service and a shift in operations had allowed the police department to focus their efforts on Coastal Highway.
“It allows us to be proactive and tailor our enforcement efforts along the roadway, which resulted in that DUI number,” he explained.