Ocean City Police Department

FAQS ANSWERS

Inside the Ocean City Police Department

Q. How many officers are in the Department?
A. We currently have 105 sworn, full-time officers.

Q. How many seasonal police officers do you hire?
A. We normally hire between 100 and 110 seasonal officers.

Q. How do you recruit your officers?
A. Most of our full-time officers are former seasonal officers. We are fortunate in that our seasonal program allows us to actually watch an officer perform before deciding if they would be an acceptable full-time officer. We recruit our seasonal officers from regional colleges that offer four year criminal justice programs. This ensures that the candidate will have a solid background in criminal justice and will be somewhat familiar with law enforcement procedures.

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Q. What kind of training does a police officer go through?
A. Our full-time police officers attend the Eastern Shore Criminal Justice Academy in Salisbury, Maryland. The officers receive 878 hours of training in a six month period. Once the academy is completed, the officer is considered a police officer trainee and will then be partnered with a Field Training Officer for a structured training program.  The Field Training Officer will make sure that the officer a capable of handling his day to day duties with efficiency and professionalism.  All police officer trainees officers remain on probation for a period of one year after police academy graduation.

Q. What kind of training do the seasonal officers get?
A. The seasonal police officers receive 190 hours of training, including 40 hours of firearms training.  They are trained on how to handle the many incidents they will face during the summer.  Seasonal Police Officers also ride with a field training officer who will make certain that the seasonal officer is fully capable of patrolling on his own within the scope of his/her duties.

Q. Where is the police station?
A. Police Headquarters is located in the Public Safety Building at 6501 Coastal Highway, in Ocean City, Maryland.  There is a boardwalk substation located at Worcester Street and the boardwalk.

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Q. How can I contact an individual officer?
A. Every employee of the police department has their own voice mail within the agency telephone system. You may call 410-723- 6610 to ask for the officer's extension number, or dial the voice mail system directly at 723-6640. It is important to remember that the officer may be on his or her days off and may not return your call for several days.

Q. Who do I call if I think my neighbor is involved in criminal activity?
A. It depends on what the activity is and whether it is going on at the time you are calling.  If it is a crime that is in progress, you should be calling 911.  If it is a minor, ongoing situation like a group of kids that have been congregating on street corner, or neighbors that are letting their dog run loose, you can call Ocean City Police Communications at 410-723-6600.  The police dispatcher will let the sector car know of the problem.  If the crime is of a serious nature, you can speak with a detective in the Criminal Investigation Division by calling 410-723-6604. If your concern is about drug related activity, you can reach the Narcotics Section at 410-723-6607.

Q. Why won't the police officer return my call?
A. This may happen for a number of reasons.  Our officers work four days on and then are off duty for three days.  If you call an officer's voice mail, their message will tell you what their days off are.  Obviously, not every call can be returned that same day, however, the officer should return your call promptly.  If you are unsuccessful in reaching an officer, you may call the general information number, 410-723-6610, to find out who the officer's supervisor is, so you can let them know that you have been unable to get in touch with that officer.

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Q. How do I make a complaint against an officer?
A. Most disagreements involving officers can be worked out by discussing the problem with the officer's supervisor.  If you feel it is necessary to lodge a formal complaint, you may pick up a general complaint form at the front desk at the Public Safety Building.  Once the form is returned, an investigation into the matter will be initiated.  If the complaint is alleging brutality, the form must be notarized before being returned.  You will be notified of the outcome of the investigation.

Q. Can I ride along with an officer on patrol?
A. This program is currently under review, for further information or to make a ride-along request contact the OCPD Public Affairs Office at: 410-723-6665.

Q. Does the Department have a lost and found?
A. The Property Section in the Public Safety Building stores recovered property on a temporary basis.  If you have had something stolen, or simply lost your wallet, this would be a good place to start.  You can reach them by dialing 410-723-6611.

Q. Can my child pet a police dog or horse?
A. Under normal circumstances, yes.  ALWAYS ask the officer first, however.

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Q. What is the Citizen's Police Academy?
A. The Citizen's Police Academy is a 10 week class that allows the citizen to get an up close, in depth look at how the police department operates.  The student learns about how the many different specialty units work, and how police officers are trained to handle different events.  Students will learn about criminal investigation, traffic enforcement, evidence collection, accident investigation, firearms, and much more.  To find out more about the Academy, you can contact the Community Services Section at 410-723-6603.

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Police Patrols

Q. How many police officers are on patrol on an average?
A. Certainly this depends on the day of the week and the month of the year.  On a Wednesday night in January there may be as few as ten officers working.  On a Saturday evening in June, there may be over one hundred.

Q. Where do they patrol?
A. There are two main districts during the summer: the Northern District and the Southern District.

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Q. How many officers are in my neighborhood?
A. The town is divided into sectors that are approximately twenty to thirty blocks long.  A minimum of one officer is assigned to a sector in the winter, and as many as ten may be assigned during the summer.

Q. Are the same officers in my neighborhood every day?
A. Every effort is made to place the same officer in the same sector every shift. This allows the officer to become familiar with the neighborhood and the people. It builds a trust between the officer and the residents.

Q. What is Neighborhood Watch?
A. Neighborhood Watch is a program that was developed to allow communities to band together to unite against crime.  Participants act as the "eyes and ears" of the police and report suspicious activity when they see it.  It has been extremely successful in Ocean City in lowering the crime rate in these active neighborhoods.

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Q. Why do I always see police officers sitting in their cars?
A. You need to remember that a police officer's car is his office.  This is where he works, writes his reports, and even takes his breaks.  Just as you would pull over and rest during a ten hour drive, so must the officer.

Q. I don't agree with a traffic ticket. What should I do?
A. People may disagree with the issuance of a traffic citation for a variety of reasons.  Any traffic citation may be challenged in District Court.  Simply follow the directions on your copy of the citation to arrange for a court date.  Keep in mind that your case will be heard at the District Court Building next door to the Public Safety Building on 65th Street.  Police department personnel can NOT void a state citation.  This can only be done by the State's Attorneys' Office.

Q. Can an officer take back a parking ticket if I argue my position with him?
A. Once an officer has written a citation, the only recourse is to request that the case be dismissed by the State's Attorney's office.  This maintains that the process is fair to everyone.

Q. How long will it take for an officer to get to my house when I call?
A. Our response time to emergency calls is excellent, even during the summer because of the number of officers we have.  It is not unreasonable to expect a car to arrive a just a few minutes to an emergency call.  For non-emergency calls, it depends on the urgency of the call.  All incidents are given a priority code which ensures that the more serious a call, the higher on the response list it is placed.  This normally is only an issue during the summer, when officers are busiest.  During our peak times in the summer, it may take quite a while for an officer to be sent to a barking dog or parking complaint.  Remember, these officers may be responding to as many as 750 calls for service in a single day.

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Q. Must an officer come to my house or can I make a report over the telephone?
A. During the summer, our telephone reporting unit, manned by police officers at the front desk of the Public Safety Building, handles many complaints over the telephone.  Almost all of these reports were for minor cases of theft of vandalism.  If there are no witnesses or suspects, and there is no follow up that is necessary (usually when a report is filed for insurance purposes), then an officer may be able to take your complaint report over the telephone.  Once the information is given to the officer, he will give you a report number for your insurance company.

 

Reports

Q. How can I get a copy of a police report?
A. The process of obtaining a police report is explained in detail in Police Reports on the General page.

Q. Is it my responsibility to get a copy of the report like the insurance company tells me?
A. This depends on the arrangement you have with your insurance company.  Normally you have already paid for your insurance company to process your claim which includes securing copies of any reports.

Q. How can I find out the status of my case?
A. The best way is to speak with the officer that took your report.  Normally patrol officers investigate their own cases.  If it is a case that demands considerable departmental resources, the officer has the option of asking the Criminal Investigation Division for assistance.  If this occurs, you may be able to speak directly with the detective involved.  You can find out their name by asking the officer who took the original report, or contacting the C.I.D. directly by calling 410-723-6604.

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Q. How do I know who is investigating my case?
A. Normally, the officer who took the report from you is the investigating officer.  If the case has been transferred to the Criminal Investigation Division for follow up, you can find out the investigating officer by calling them directly at 410-723-6604.

Q. Who investigates my case once the summer officer leaves?
A. Toward the end of the summer, the seasonal officers are encouraged to close out all of their open cases.  If there is a case that unable to be closed by their departure date, then the case will be reassigned.  It is best to stay in contact with the investigating officer during the investigation period.  If you know that the officer is a seasonal, ask him what will happen to the case when he leaves.

Q. Will I be contacted if my open case ever comes to closure?
A. Under normal circumstances, the investigating officer will notify of any important developments in your case.  We always encourage you to maintain contact with the investigating officer during the process.  This ensures that your are kept up to date, and it also demonstrates your concern and interest to the investigator.

Q. Will you call me if my property is found?
A. If your stolen property is recovered during an active investigation, the investigator will notify you.  If, however, your property is recovered much later after the case has been suspended, the only way you will be notified is if it can be traced back to you.  For instance, if your television set was recovered months after the report, the only way to determine that it was stolen would be for an officer to check the serial number through the National Crime Information Center computer.  If the computer check indicates that the property is  in fact stolen, then you will be notified.  It is critically important that you record the serial numbers of your property in a safe place immediately after its purchase.  It is also important to engrave it with your driver's license number and State.  Without either of these two numbers, the chances of recovering your property are minimal.

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Q. What does the Victim/Witness Coordinator do?
A. The Victim/Witness Coordinator for Worcester County is Ms. Vy Candelario.  Ms. Candelario is an employee of the State's Attorney's Office for Worcester County and her office is located in the Circuit Court House Building in Snow Hill, Maryland.  Ms. Candelario can be reached at 410-632-5640.  The Victim/Witness Coordinator is responsible for notifying victims and witnesses of court dates, accompanying them to court, and keeping them notified of hearings, meetings, and other court related activities.  The Victim/Witness Coordinator office will also assist crime victims in preparing victim impact statements, and seeking restitution through court and the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board.

 

City Ordinances

Q. When are bicycles & skateboards allowed on the boardwalk?

From Saturday of Memoral Day weekend through Labor Day, between 2:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. of the same day.

From Tuesday after Labor Day through Friday before Memorial Day, at any time, subject to the following exceptions:

A. Springfest and Sunfest (Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday) between 2:00 a.m. and 12 p.m. of the same day.

Off-Season: No Restrictions

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Q. Can I build a bonfire on the beach?
A. You must have a permit from the Fire Marshal's Office at City Hall to have any fire on the beach.

Q. Can I use a barbecue grill on my condo balcony?
A. Barbecues, hibachis, etc., are not permitted to be used on the balconies of multi-family dwelling structures.

Q. Can we sleep in our cars?
A. Sleeping in motor vehicles within the City limits is prohibited.

Q. Where can we park our motor home?
A. RV's and other oversized vehicles may not park in any municipal lot, public street or alley between June 15 and Sept. 15.  An oversized vehicle is considered to be 21 feet, 2 inches or more in length, and 6 feet, 8 inches in width.

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Q. Can we leave our boat trailer on the street?
A. Boat trailers are prohibited from being parked on any City street or alley between May 1 and Oct. 1.

Q. Is the beach closed at night?
A. The beach is closed between midnight and 5:00 a.m. so that it can be cleaned.

Q. Can I walk my dog on the beach?
A. Dogs are prohibited from being on the beach between May 1 and Sept. 30.

Q. Does my dog have to be on a leash?
A. All dogs must be on a leash (under 8 feet in length) while on public streets, ways or other public property. Remember, you must clean up any waste created by your dog.

Q. Tell me about the noise ordinance.
A. It is unlawful for any person to make, cause or continue any loud, unnecessary, unnatural, or unusual noise or any noise which annoys, disturbs, injures, or endangers the comfort, repose, health, peace and safety of others at any time, day or night.  Ocean City strongly enforces its ordinance that no disruptive noises be made between 12:00 midnight and 7:00 a.m., in such a manner as to be plainly audible at a distance of 50 feet from the building, structure, or vehicle in which it is located.

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Q. Can I drink a beer on the boardwalk?
A. Drinking any alcoholic beverage in public is prohibited.  This includes any street, alleyway, sidewalk, beach, parking lot, and vehicle in any of these areas.  Possessing an open container of any alcoholic beverage in public is also illegal.

Q. Can I rollerblade on Coastal Highway?
A. In-line skates are considered pedestrians, and as such are required to use the sidewalk when one is provided.

Q. Is hitch-hiking illegal?
A. Hitch-hiking anywhere in Ocean City is prohibited.

Q. Can I drive my vehicle on the beach?
A. No, only during special City sponsored events, such as surf fishing tournaments, etc.

 

Crime Prevention
Q. How can I protect my home from burglary?
A. Contact a member of the Community Services Section and arrange for a home security survey.  One of our trained crime prevention specialists will assess your home for security weaknesses and make some recommendations to improve both your home and your personal security situation.  There are many factors that affect home security, however, making sure your physical security measures, (locks, lighting, etc.) are up to date is essential.  Other factors include giving your home a "lived in" appearance and making sure that your neighbors look out for you when you are not home.

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Q. What is the best kind of lock?
A. Many homes are guarded by inefficient "spring latch" door locks.  We feel that deadbolt locks with at least a one inch throw offer considerably more security.  The strike plate that the throw goes into should be strong and installed with at least three inch screws.  Besides good locks, it's also a good idea to have a peep hole in your front door so you can find out who's outside without opening your door to danger.

Q. How can I secure a sliding glass door?
A. Sliding glass doors can be easy targets for burglars because of two reasons:  The locks that come with them can be easily pried open, and the second problem is that when they are installed, they often have too much slack in the upper slide track.  Carefully adding an auxiliary lock can greatly improve your security.  Adding a wooden strip in the upper track will reduce the slack, but still allow for free movement of the door.

Q. Should I engrave my property?
A. When you engrave your valuables, you make it hard for a thief to dispose of it.  It can be traced back to you. You should engrave your property (TV, VCR, computer, camera, etc.) with your driver's license number and State.  This enables any police officer to check the information to determine the name and address that corresponds with the engraved number.

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Q. What about an alarm?
A. Alarms can be wonderful deterrents, however, it's important to remember that they can be defeated by an experienced burglar.  They are a compliment to, not a replacement for good physical security.  If you are planning on having an alarm installed, call several alarm companies and get several estimates.  Make an informed decision after speaking with many alarm company representatives.

Q. How can I join Neighborhood Watch?
A. You can contact the Community Services Section to find out if you live in an area that has a Neighborhood Watch organization.

Q. Do you have a bicycle registry program?
A. Yes.  You may register you bicycle at the front desk of the Public Safety Building.  This service is free of charge.  Make sure you bring along all of the pertinent information about your bicycle including serial number, colors, wheel diameter, etc.  You will be given a sticker that you should place on the frame of the bicycle.

Q. Are there many cars stolen in Ocean City?
A. Auto theft is one of the fastest rising crimes in Maryland.  While there are relatively few car thefts in Ocean City we do seem to recover quite a few stolen cars here in town.  It's important to remember that 1 in 5 victims leaves their keys in their ignition, and 4 out of 5 stolen cars were left unlocked.

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Q. What do I do if I see something suspicious?
A. Watching out for suspicious activity can be tricky, but you should remember one simple rule:  "If you see a situation and it doesn't feel right to you, it's suspicious."  Many crimes have been prevented because alert citizens have reported suspicious activity.  If your intuition tells you something isn't right, call and report your suspicions.  It's better to discover that nothing is wrong than to let a crime be committed.

Q. Is it safe to walk at night?
A. The rate of robbery, rape, and other person to person crime is incredibly low in Ocean City.  We feel it is a very safe community, however, it is always prudent to use good common sense when you are out walking late at night.  Try to stay in well lighted and well traveled areas.  Of course limit the amount of cash you carry, and by all means, if a situation does not feel right to you, it's time to move to a more comfortable area.

Q. Is it a good idea to carry pepper spray?
A. We discourage people from carrying any weapons that could be used against them.  In most situations, criminals have the advantage of surprise which means that you will most likely never get to use it, or worse, have it used against you.  Instead, you might want to consider a personal alarm that you can activate easily that will draw attention to your situation, but cannot be physically used against you.

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Q. Are there many carjackings in Ocean City?
A. To date, we have yet to have a carjacking.  This type of robbery is best prevented by keeping your windows rolled up your doors locked.  You should also pay close attention to what is going on around you, both on the road and as you approach or exit your car.

Q. What do I do if I'm confronted on the street?
A. If you are confronted by an assailant, remember, NOTHING is more important than your safety.  You need to remain calm and do what the assailant says.  It is not always wise to fight or run.  You need to assess the situation carefully and determine what the best course of action is that will keep you safest.  Do what ever it takes to get them to leave...fast!

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Contemporary Law Enforcement Issues
Q. What is the R.A.A.M. project all about?
A. R.A.A.M. stands for "Reducing the Availability of Alcohol to Minors."  We recognize that many of the dangerous, illegal or annoying incidents that occur in Town are due to young people abusing alcohol.  The Department is committed to having an impact on underage drinking by involving the entire Town in making this a priority.  We utilize undercover police officers as well as patrol officers to enforce the alcohol statutes.

Q. What does the department do about pedestrian safety?
A. Pedestrian safety is an important safety priority within our agency.  Unfortunately, we experience several pedestrian accidents, most of which are the fault of the pedestrian.  It is important for people to remember to cross at a crosswalk, and to be extremely careful about traffic.  Don't assume the vehicle will grant you the right of way.  It is also important to note that a significant percentage of victims had been drinking at the time of the accident.

Q. What are the most commonly violated laws in Ocean City?
A. Most of the problems in Ocean City are violations of peace and good order statutes.  Calls such as disorderly conduct, noise, and disturbing the peace are the most prevalent.  Our incidence of violent crime are extremely low for a population the size of Ocean City.

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Q. What area do most crimes take place?
A. Most "crimes" in Ocean City are violations of the peace and good order statutes.  These can occur anywhere in Town, however, we find that the south end of town has a higher percentage of calls for service than any other geographic area.  Consequently, more police officers are assigned to patrol the area south of 15th Street.

Q. Can I find a list of safe rentals for my high school graduate?
A. You may contact the Town's Public Relations office for a list of recommended rentals that cater to young people.  Their phone number is 410-289-2800.

Q. What does the police department do to control these kids in June?
A. Since the bulk of our calls involve violation of peace and good order statutes, we do our best to establish the ground rules right from the beginning of the summer.  Our community policing philosophy and our patrol officers work hard to get the message out to the young people that underage drinking and related behavior will not be tolerated.  As an agency, we find that if we are stricter in June, it makes the rest of the summer much more tolerable.  The City Government and the Parent Network, working with Ocean City Drug and Alcohol Abuse Committee, plan many enjoyable activities for young people with the idea that you don't have to drink to have a good time.

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Q. What are the department's concerns during the off-season?
A. Since many residences and businesses are vacant during the off- season, burglaries are a concern for us.  A strong Neighborhood Watch combined with aggressive patrols keep this problem under control.  Our officers are also busy with several off-season events such as Springfest, Sunfest, the Spring and Fall "Cruisin'" events, Delmarva Bike Week and the Winterfest of Lights celebration.

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