(June 4, 2014) – Ocean City Police Department Major Crimes Unit detectives have charged a Virginia man with rape and burglary after he sexually assaulted an acquaintance in the early morning hours of May 25, 2014.
On May 25, Ocean City officers and detectives responded to Atlantic General Hospital and met with the victim of the sexual assault. Through investigation, officers determined that the victim and a group of friends were at an Ocean City nightclub where they ran into acquaintances from their hometown in Virginia. Eventually the group, including the acquaintances, returned to a hotel room together where they continued to consume alcoholic beverages and became intoxicated.
In the early morning hours of May 25, members of the group, including the suspect, left the hotel room while the victim was asleep. The suspect, who was later identified as Romer Ortuno, 29, of Springfield, VA, then returned to the room where he entered through an unlocked window and reportedly raped the victim.
Ocean City detectives obtained an arrest warrant for Ortuno charging him with first degree rape and first degree burglary. On May 27, Ortuno was arrested at his home by local authorities.
Damon M. Middleton
Charles A. Middleton
(May 28, 2014) – On Sunday, May 25, 2014 at approximately 3:20 a.m. Ocean City police responded to the area of 8th Street and Philadelphia Avenue in reference to a fight in progress. Upon arrival, officers met with the victim of an assault who had been beaten. The victim informed officers that the suspects, who were friends of the victim, assaulted him and stole numerous items from his pockets.
With a description of the suspects, officers realized that they had seen a subject matching the description of one of the suspects get into a nearby cab. Through investigation, officers were able to locate and arrest the first suspect, later identified as Damon M. Middleton, 21, of Washington, DC. Meanwhile, other officers were assisted by witnesses in locating the second suspect later identified as Charles A. Middleton, 24, of New York, NY. Charles was eventually located and arrested in a nearby vehicle attempting to hide from police. Items stolen from the victim were located and returned.
Ocean City police charged Charles and Damon Middleton with multiple assault and theft charges. Damon Middleton was also charged with possession of an assisted opening knife. Both were seen by a Maryland District Court Commissioner and released after each posted $50,000 bond.
(May 19, 2014) – This week, a group of specialized DUI enforcement officers with the Ocean City Police Department will be hitting the streets in an effort to curb impaired driving in the resort town. A group of officers that are specially trained in traffic safety will now dedicate their time to detecting and enforcing impaired driving.
“Impaired driving continues to be an issue in Ocean City and now with this dedicated enforcement team we will be able to combat impaired driving head on,” commented Chief Ross Buzzuro. “Finding a sober ride home is an easy choice one can make to protect their safety.”
This group of specialized officers is dedicated to making Ocean City safer by striving to eliminate the threat of impaired drivers on roadways. Other specialized DUI enforcement teams across the state, including the Maryland State Police SPIDRE team, have seen great success and experienced significant decrease in impaired driving collisions.
“Impaired driving is one of the biggest problems on our roadways,” began Milt Chaffee, Administrator of the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration and the state’s Governor’s Representative for Highway Safety. “An average of 175 people have died every year for the past five years as a result of someone being impaired while behind the wheel. I applaud the Ocean City Police Department’s effort to stop impaired drivers and urge all drivers to always find a safe ride home. Call a friend or call a cab but do not get behind the wheel after you have been drinking.”
The Ocean City Police Department reminds citizens to always plan a safe ride home prior to consuming any alcoholic beverages. Citizens are strongly encouraged to designate a sober driver, call one of the many local taxi companies or ride the municipal bus.
For more information on the OCPD’s specialized DUI enforcement initiative, contact Public Affairs Specialist Lindsay O’Neal at 410-520-5395.
(May 12, 2014) – This summer, the Ocean City Police Department will be hosting six identification training sessions as part of the department’s Reducing Availability of Alcohol to Minors (RAAM) Program at the Roland E. Powell Convention Center (4001 Coastal Highway). These free training sessions are designed for alcohol retailers, restaurant servers and bar tenders.
These training sessions will be held from 9 a.m. until 11 a.m. on the following dates:
- May 21, 2014
- May 28, 2014
- June 4, 2014
- June 25, 2014
- July 2, 2014
- July 9, 2014
Attendees can choose to come to any one of the six dates provided. Ocean City restaurants and alcohol retail establishments are encouraged to include this training opportunity in to their new seasonal employee orientation and training. No registration is necessary and there is no cost to attend this training.
The RAAM Program is a community policing initiative that began in 1995 and addresses underage drinking in Ocean City. An essential component of this program is the partnership formed with local alcohol retailers, restaurants and bars. The Ocean City Police Department continues to strictly enforce underage drinking and is committed to the ongoing relationships with the Ocean City business community.
For more information about the RAAM Program and upcoming training sessions, please contact the OCPD Public Affairs Office at 410-520-5395.
Ralph Andrew McCabe
(April 30, 2014) – On April 29, 2014, at approximately 8:15 p.m. Ocean City police responded to a 32nd Street apartment for a report of a subject in possession of a handgun making threats. Upon arrival, officers quickly located and detained the suspect, later identified as Ralph Andrew McCabe, 23, of Snow Hill.
The investigation revealed that McCabe became irate with his girlfriend and another female and began destroying his girlfriend’s belongings. McCabe later began threatening the two females while holding a handgun. During the subsequent investigation, officers located the handgun, in addition to evidence related to recent burglaries.
McCabe was arrested by Ocean City police and charged with multiple assault, burglary and malicious destruction charges. McCabe was seen by a Maryland District Court Commissioner and is currently being held without bond for the burglary charges and on $100,000 bond for the assault charges.
(April 29, 2014) – Cinco de Mayo in the United States has become synonymous not only with tacos, sombreros, and piñatas, but also with margaritas, tequila, and beer. Since alcohol is such a big part of many Cinco de Mayo festivities, it’s no surprise that drunk driving is especially high on May 5th.Ocean City police are urging citizens to designate a sober driver or plan another sober ride home before heading to the bars this Cinco de Mayo.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 233 people were killed in drunk driving crashes on Cinco de Mayo (6 p.m. May 4th to 5:59 a.m. May 6th) from 2008 to 2012. In 2012, almost half (45 percent) of all traffic crash fatalities on Cinco de Mayo involved drunk driving.
“Some people have this misconception that they can drink a little, and drive safely,” said Chief Ross Buzzuro, “but that’s just not true. Everyone needs to remember that Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving, and there’s never an excuse for it.”
Every 51 minutes in 2012, someone was killed in a drunk driving crash in the United States, and 89 of those fatalities were around Cinco de Mayo, according to the NHTSA. In fact, from 2011 to 2012, the number of people killed in drunk driving crashes on Cinco de Mayo more than doubled. In all fatal crashes in 2012, seventy-one percent of the drunk drivers involved had blood alcohol concentrations (BAC) of .15 or higher—almost twice the legal limit.
Ocean City police reminds all citizens that plan to celebrate Cinco de Mayo to designate a sober driver beforehand or call a sober friend to ensure a safe ride home. Citizens are also encouraged to call one of the many local taxi companies or ride the municipal bus.
(April 28, 2014) – As warm weather approaches, the Ocean City Police Department is reminding citizens of the recent legislative changes prohibiting passengers from riding unrestrained in the beds of pick-up trucks on Ocean City roadways. In January, the Mayor and City Council voted this change into effect to enhance public safety and prevent serious injuries that could result from riding unrestrained in an unenclosed area of motor vehicles. A violation of this ordinance could result in a fine of up to $250.
Ocean City citizens are reminded that the new ordinance falls under the town code “Seat Belts” division and reads that “a person may not ride or allow another person to ride in the unenclosed area of a motor vehicle except in a seat and with a seat belt in use.”
“This is another step we are taking to make Ocean City roadways safer,” said Chief Ross Buzzuro. “In 2013, Ocean City experienced 504 reportable traffic collisions. If one collision involved a pickup truck that was full of unsecured passengers, it could be tragic. This new ordinance will prevent that.”
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), seatbelts saved an estimated 12,174 lives nationwide in 2012. The NHTSA also says that seat belt use is the single most effective way to protect people and reduce fatalities in motor vehicle collisions.
(April 24, 2014) – The Ocean City Police Department has recently expanded its use of speed measurement devices as part of the department’s mission to reduce traffic collisions. Many officers attended a training session on Thursday, April 17, 2014, where they earned certification in the use this new device, known as LIDAR, which uses lasers and reflected light to measure speed. Officer Joseph Laughlin was among one the officers certified and used his training almost immediately.
On April 20, 2014, at approximately 2 a.m. Ofc. Laughlin was on patrol in the area of 30th Street and Coastal Highway when he observed a vehicle traveling at a high rate of speed. Using LIDAR technology, he determined that the vehicle was traveling faster than the posted speed limit. Ofc. Laughlin stopped the vehicle and smelled marijuana coming from inside. During a search of the vehicle, officers located marijuana and a stun gun. A passenger in the vehicle, later identified as Khiry Jamal Lane, 24, of Hyattsville, MD, was later arrested and charged with possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana and possession of an electronic weapon.
“The Ocean City Police Department is committed to improving the safety of our roadways,” commented Lieutenant Scott Harner, commander of the OCPD Traffic Safety Unit. “Speeding is a choice over which every driver has complete control.”
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, almost one-third of all traffic accidents are caused by drivers disregarding the speed limit. The Maryland State Highway Administration has recently reduced the speed limit on Coastal Highway to 35 MPH from 62nd Street to 36th Street. Citizens of Ocean City are reminded to follow the posted speed limit while traveling and stay alert for other drivers.
(April 21, 2014) – This weekend thousands of motorcyclists are anticipated to visit Ocean City and the surrounding area as the Bikes to the Beach Spring Rally is scheduled to begin on Thursday, April 24. In correlation with Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, which begins May 1, the Ocean City Police Department is reminding motorists and motorcyclists to “share the road” and be extra alert to keep motorcyclists safe.
“Motorcycles are vehicles with the same rights and privileges as any motor vehicle on the roadway,” commented Ocean City Police Chief Ross Buzzuro. “Motorists should perform visual checks for motorcyclists by checking mirrors and blind spots before they enter or exit a lane of traffic. Pedestrians should also get into the habit of scanning for motorcyclists who might be hidden by other traffic.”
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, motorcyclists are much more vulnerable than a passenger vehicle occupant in the event of a crash. Motorcyclists should remain alert to other drivers, never ride impaired or distracted and always wear a helmet and other protective gear.
In order to help keep motorcyclists safe in Ocean City, the Ocean City Police Department would like to offer the following tips:
- Always allow a motorcyclist the full lane width—never try to share a lane.
- Perform a visual check for motorcycles by checking mirrors and blind spots before entering or exiting a lane of traffic, and at intersections.
- Always signal your intentions before changing lanes or merging with traffic.
- Allow more following distance – three or four seconds – when behind a motorcycle so the motorcyclist has enough time to maneuver or stop in an emergency.
- Never tailgate. In dry conditions, motorcycles can stop more quickly than cars.
In addition, motorcyclists should follow these tips to remain safe:
- Avoid riding in poor weather conditions.
- Wear brightly colored protective gear and a DOT-compliant helmet.
- Combine hand signals and turn signals to draw more attention.
- Use reflective tape and stickers to increase visibility.
- Never drive while impaired or distracted.
In hopes of a safe and successful “Bikes to the Beach” event and Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, the Ocean City Police Department reminds all drivers and motorcyclists to help share in the responsibility of keeping all road users safe, and do your part by safely “sharing the road.”
Click photo to enlarge. Photo provided by race organizers.
(April 21, 2014) – The Ocean City Police Department is reminding citizens to expect traffic delays the morning of Saturday, April 26, during the 10th Annual Ocean City Island 2 Island Half Marathon and 5K. This year, half marathon runners will begin the race at Assateague Island and make their way to the finish line at the Inlet Lot. Runners participating in the 5K event will remain on the Boardwalk and will not affect traffic.
Upon reaching Ocean City, runners will travel east on Route 50 in the far right lane and cross the Harry W. Kelley Memorial Bridge before crossing Philadelphia and Baltimore Avenues to reach the boardwalk. Drivers should expect delays in the downtown area beginning at approximately 8 a.m. until 10 a.m. Traffic on Baltimore and Philadelphia Avenues will be intermittently stopped in advance of runners reaching the intersections and may at times be stopped for several minutes to accommodate runners without delay.
Event participants and spectators are urged to use crosswalks while crossing roadways and motorists should be extremely vigilant in the downtown area during this event. Finally, the Ocean City Police Department wishes the best of luck to all runners participating in Saturday’s races!