(Feb. 27, 2015) The Ocean City Police Department issued its annual report last week, detailing the department’s activities and results for the 2014 calendar year.
In short, robberies were down, rapes were up and June continues to generate the lion’s share of the department’s work.
As has been the case previously, the report’s headlining statistic was the total number of calls for service dealt with by the department during the year. Logged calls can either be generated via citizen complaints or by police officers themselves, and are generally taken as a raw measure of the department’s total activity.
The department fielded 77,376 calls for 2014, in line with the previous two years’ load of 78,414 and 77,978 for 2013 and 2012, respectively.
The past three years, however, showed a considerable jump in activity from 2011 and 2010, which saw 72,500 and 71,576 calls, respectively. This itself was a jump from 2009, which saw only 62,066 calls.
The bulk of the increase is in officer-initiated activity, and less so from citizen concerns, which the department believes indicates a successful practice of catching minor offenses before they turn into major ones that are visible to the public. Citizen calls accounted for 21,797 of the total call volume, with the remaining
“Suffice to say that we are nipping some things in the bud before the citizens are seeing the problem,” said Police Chief Ross Buzzuro.
Total arrests for the year were down slightly from 2013, at 2,894 versus 3,021. This number rises to 3,779 if one also includes criminal citations, which officers may issue for certain offenses, often marijuana-related, instead of bringing the offender into the station.
June continued, as in years past, to comprise nearly a third of this annual heavy lifting, with 1,125 arrests or criminal citations in that month of 2014.
Overall, the department saw 2,206 incidents that are considered to be significant crimes under FBI reporting standards. This is slightly up from last year, but down three percent over the five-year running average.
Most categories of significant crime, such as assault and theft, remained level, with two notable exceptions.
Robberies, with 14 total incidents, were down 30 percent from 2013 and 39 percent over the five-year average.
Forcible (i.e., non-statutory) rape, however, was up to 14 incidents from 12 in 2013, and 10 in 2012, a 133 percent climb over the five-year average. Rape cases have jumped dramatically the last three years, whereas in 2011 only four confirmed incidents were recorded.
As expected, more than half of 2014’s rape cases originated in June.
The department also dealt with 196 suspects for weapons charges, a five percent increase over 2013. Of those, 16 were firearms-related.
Alcohol citations dropped dramatically, from 1,015 in 2013 to 652 in 2014.
Assaults on officers were also up 18 percent, with 85 incidents versus 72 in 2013. However, only 13 of the incidents resulted in officers being injured, Buzzuro said, and all of the injuries were relatively minor.
The department’s Major Crimes Unit investigated 197 cases, 46 percent of which were for burglaries or thefts.
A string of winter break-ins in early 2014 taxed the department, Buzzuro said, but the investigation was successful in bringing down a number of people involved with property crimes in North Ocean City and southern Sussex County. As a result, burglary numbers for the first two months of 2015 have declined dramatically, Buzzuro said.