Ocean City Today

Security upgrade for Boardwalk

With City Hall fortified, anti-terror efforts will continue elsewhere
By Katie Tabeling | Oct 19, 2017

(Oct. 20, 2017) Resort officials are looking to quietly expand their security plan throughout the city, and that includes installing blockades on the Boardwalk to prevent a car from crashing into a crowd in the summer.

During last week’s meeting on the five-year financial plan, City Manager Doug Miller assured the City Council that restricting vehicle access on the boards was a “top priority.” Preliminary estimates put the project in the million-dollar range, as some barriers could cost $100,000 apiece.

“The concern is acts of terrorism we’ve seen in the last 18 months elsewhere where people drive through a crowded plaza. We have an example of that location with the Boardwalk,” Miller said earlier this week. “Ever since I got here, the Boardwalk is the one that keeps me awake at night.”

Ocean City Police and first responders often drive on the Boardwalk for emergencies, but there has been one known case of a suspect driving on the walkway to evade police. In August, Michael Gallahad, 61, of New York City drove a van on the boards for eight blocks around 1 a.m. He was ultimately arrested in Fenwick Island.

To ensure that can never happen again, Miller said that a variety of blockades could be placed on the Boardwalk. That could include concrete planters, similar to those in front of City Hall, or automated barriers.

“They could operate at a press of a button, like a garage door opener,” he said. “Of course, we have to consider how the trams will operate, and our first responders will have access. Some businesses need access for deliveries as well. But we’re meeting this week to discuss all of that.”

The financial plan also proposes earmarking $500,000 for five years for citywide security improvements. City Hall has been the focus this year, with upgrades of the surveillance camera system and the removal of signs from parking spaces reserved for the mayor, council members, city manager and city solicitor.

Next will be moving the receptionist desk to get a better view of the door and installing a remote lock-out button.

The Public Safety building has been improved as well, and police visitors have to register to get a pass before leaving the lobby.

Northside Park will also be outfitted with three external cameras and key card readers as part of lobby renovations in December. Concrete planters will be placed at the west and east entrances.

“There’s some things we have done quietly over the last couple of months to beef up security, with the universal public in mind,” Miller said. “We always want to be prepared if the situation does arise.”

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