(Aug. 16, 2013) With crime – or at least the perception of it by visitors – continuing to be a hot topic in the resort, the Ocean City Police Department released a number of statistics this week that show police activity continuing to decline throughout the resort.
Selected statistics show crime relatively unchanged on the Boardwalk, although some more serious offenses are up. Incidents also appear to be more spread out than in years past, although still centered in a few key areas of congregation.
The OCPD issued ‘heat graphs’ of Boardwalk arrests for 2010-2013 at this week’s Police Commission meeting, in which a higher frequency of arrests is shown by a darker color on a map of the city’s premier attraction.
“As you move up the Boardwalk, you’re seeing a little more red than in years past,” said OCPD Chief Ross Buzzuro. “It would appear to be a little more spread out.”
Still, incidents are still clearly concentrated in a few key areas: around the South First Street Plaza, between First and Second Streets, and between Fourth and Fifth Streets.
At least one of these zones, between First and Second Street, contains several stores that have had repeated violations for drug distribution.
“The stores that you suspended the business licenses on are right there,” OCPD Capt. Michael Colbert noted to Mayor Rick Meehan. Last year, Meehan suspended the business licenses for two head shops on the stretch for repeated narcotics busts.
Overall, Boardwalk arrests for June rose to 213 this year from 193 last year, but are still less than the 248 seen in 2011. May arrests this year were down to 43 from 57 last year.
Most major categories of crime, like theft and assault, stayed fairly even. Drug violations were up this June to 41 over 24 in June 2012, and weapons violations were up to 11 from 5 last year.
“We have been seeing an uptick in weapons,” Buzzuro said.
Last week, Meehan announced that the city planned to expand its camera system on the Boardwalk to combat public fears over crime and an allegedly hostile environment.
“This will be very helpful in determining future deployment and future camera placement,” Buzzuro said of the Boardwalk statistics.
In the resort as a whole, police activity continues to drop. Calls for service in July – excluding routine services such as traffic stops and business assistance – were down 4.1 percent over July 2012. Of these, officer-initiated service was down 1.6 percent, while service resulting from citizen complaints was down 8.1 percent.
Comparative arrest numbers have been difficult to establish this year, given new state laws which allow officers to issue criminal citations for certain minor offenses, instead of taking offenders into custody for booking at the 65th Street station.
According to the OCPD’s data, July 2013 saw 473 custodial arrests and 207 criminal citations issued that likely would’ve been full arrests before the criminal citation policy was passed in Annapolis. Even combined, however, the total is still less than the 832 arrests made in July 2012.
Of the 680 total arrests and criminal-level citations last month, 230 were for drugs and 23 were for weapons, compared to 290 for drugs and 24 for weapons in July of 2012.