Ocean City Today

Police: H2Oi has increased officer activity over years

By Katie Tabeling | Nov 16, 2017

(Nov. 17, 2017) As Ocean City officials continue to review how to rein in spring and fall auto events, the Police Commission took a second look at the police activity during car rally weekends.

Chief Ross Buzzuro reported that calls for service — assignments that require police presence to resolve — for H2Oi have been steadily increasing over the past six years, culminating in what officials declared was the worst unofficial car show seven weeks ago.

Police responded to 2,735 calls for service, of which 592 were called in by citizens, between Sept. 28 and Oct. 1. Police made 2,302 traffic stops, arrested 78 people and issued 2,020 traffic citations.

“Looking back from 2011, you’re seeing a progression in calls for service across the board during that event,” Chief Ross Buzzuro said to the commission on Monday. “In 2011, there were 1,200 and in 2014, there were 2,300. The only anomaly is in 2015, when we had a storm, and in 2016, there 2,587 calls.”

The City Council is considering how to push H2Oi — and its rowdy fans — out of the area, as well as eliminating other car events. Last week, the Police Commission unveiled a multi-approach plan that included ending Cruisin’ Ocean City and Endless Summer Cruisin’.

These two events were deemed problematic after commission members rated them on factors such nonparticipant behavior, level of law enforcement required and pedestrian endangerment.

In comparison, Cruisin’ Ocean City, the larger of the two city-sanctioned car events, generated 2,041 calls for service from May 18 - 21. The show logged 2,137 calls for service in 2016.

Police handled 1,363 calls for Endless Summer Cruisin’ between Oct. 5 - 8.

Ocean City often coordinates with other law enforcement agencies to bring in more officers to handle the crowds, but Buzzuro said that H2Oi stretched resources from six agencies thin.

Roughly 100 officers were on the streets that weekend, including 50 troopers from Maryland State Police, five deputies from Queen Anne’s County Sheriff’s Office, and 10 deputies Worcester County Sheriff’s Office.

“The first thing people say [about making the car events safe] is to increase enforcement,” Police Commission Chairman and Councilman Dennis Dare said. “I don’t think they realize how much of our resources was already committed.”

Mayor Rick Meehan and Council Secretary Mary Knight asked to provide the statistics for all three events to the motor events task force, which the mayor has yet to form.

“I think looking back and seeing how the events have escalated for the last few years is important,” Meehan said. “The purpose is not to draw conclusions, it’s to have accurate information.”

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