FIVE NEW OFFICERS GRADUATE FROM POLICE ACADEMY

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Ofc. James Bodine, Ofc. Tonya Gower, Chief Ross Buzzuro, Ofc. Julianne O’Toole, Ofc. Gary Cooper, Jr., Ofc. Kyle Hayes, Jr.

(June 18, 2014) – On June 17, 2014, five new Ocean City Police Department officers graduated from the Eastern Shore Criminal Justice Academy’s 72nd police academy class. The newest Ocean City officers are Officers James Bodine, Gary Cooper, Jr., Tonya Gower, Kyle Hayes, Jr., and Julianne O’Toole.

Officers were formally recognized as certified police officers of the Ocean City Police Department after 24 weeks of intense training. The recruit class stemmed from various law enforcement agencies throughout Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

Graduates from the OCPD consistently earn top honors from the police academy and these new officers held true to that tradition. Officers Bodine, Cooper Gower and O’Toole each earned the Physical Fitness Award. The Firearms Proficiency Award was given to Officers Bodine, Gower and O’Toole. Also, Officer Cooper earned the only Academic Achievement Award in the recruitment class earning a 93 percent overall score.

“We strive to provide the Ocean City community with the best and brightest officers that we can find,” said Ocean City Police Chief Ross Buzzuro. “I truly believe that our five newest officers exemplify that goal. Each of them are sure to be tremendous servants for our residents and visitors.”

After their graduation from the police academy, the new officers will enter into a nine week field training program. During this time, they will hone the skills they have acquired in the police academy under the direct supervision of a veteran OCPD field training officer. They will be routinely evaluated and critiqued on their performance and will train with the various shifts and divisions that make up the OCPD.

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VIGILANT RESIDENT LEADS OFFICERS TO BURGLARY SUSPECTS

6-16-14 Burglaries(June 16, 2014) – On June 15, 2014, at approximately 1:30 p.m. Ocean City officers were dispatched to the area of Teal Drive in reference to suspicious circumstances after a vigilant resident approached a nearby Public Safety Aide working an OC Air Show traffic detail. The resident told the Public Safety Aide that he had seen three suspicious individuals peering into area homes.

Upon arrival, officers located a vehicle in which the resident believed the suspicious individuals were travelling.  Through the initial investigation, officers determined the vehicle to be stolen out of Montgomery County, Maryland. The officers quickly located three of the suspicious individuals who were seen exiting the vehicle and each was arrested for theft of the motor vehicle. These suspects, all from Washington, DC, were identified as: Christopher H. Bussey, 25; Dominique A. Burton, 19; and Shinecia D. Mercer, 19. An Investigator with the Ocean City Fire Marshal’s Office also assisted with the investigation and located and arrested a fourth suspect, a female, which officers linked to the stolen vehicle in the area of 20th Street and Philadelphia Avenue. She was later identified as Heather A. Haire, 25, also of Washington, DC.

While officers were on scene, two residents reported burglaries to their homes in the area of Teal Drive where electronics and jewelry totaling approximately $60,000, and several other items had been stolen. Many of these items were either recovered from the stolen vehicle, in the suspect’s possession or discarded by the suspects in the area.  During the subsequent investigation, officers developed a fifth suspect and still had not located some of the electronics and stolen jewelry.

At approximately 6:40 p.m., officers responded to the area of 32nd Street and Baltimore Avenue for a report of a stolen vehicle.  Believing these incidents may be related, officers quickly broadcast lookouts for the fifth suspect and the stolen vehicle to surrounding jurisdictions.

At approximately 9 p.m., Ocean City Detectives learned that the Maryland State Police and Wicomico County Sheriff’s Office were involved in a vehicle pursuit near Hebron, Maryland involving the vehicle that had recently been reported stolen from 32nd Street. The pursuit ended in a single vehicle crash. The driver was transported to Peninsula Regional Medical Center with non-life threatening injuries. The driver of the stolen vehicle was later identified as Joshua Robinson-Gripper, 22, also of Washington, DC.  Additionally, inside the stolen vehicle Ocean City Detectives recovered electronics and jewelry stolen during the burglaries.

Ocean City Police have charged Bussey, Burton, Haire, Mercer and Robinson-Gripper with multiple theft and burglary charges. All four suspects were seen by a Maryland District Court Commissioner. Bussey, Burton, Haire and Mercer are currently being held at the Ocean City Public Safety Building on $75,000 bond. Robinson-Gripper is being held by the Wicomico County Sheriff’s Office on $100,000 bond.

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OCPD SEEKING PUBLIC’S ASSISTANCE IN IDENTIFYING ROBBERY SUSPECTS

6-13 For Release(June 13, 2014) – The Ocean City Police Department is asking the Ocean City community for assistance in a case involving a strong-arm robbery. In the early morning hours of June 12, 2014, Ocean City police were dispatched to the 94th Street 7-11 convenience store (9404 Coastal Highway) in reference to a robbery that had just occurred. Upon arrival, employees stated to officers that two suspects had entered the store, assaulted an employee and stole an undisclosed amount of cash from the register in addition to an employee’s personal cell phone.

The first suspect in this case is a black male, approximately 6’ to 6’04” tall with a medium build. At the time of the incident, the suspect was wearing a bright green hoodie, sunglasses, light gray jeans and white sneakers. The second suspect is described as a black male, approximately 6’ to 6’06” tall with a thin build. This suspect was wearing a light brown hoodie, blue jeans and black and blue sneakers at the time of the incident. Both suspects look to be between the ages of 18-25.

Anyone with information regarding this case is asked to contact Dfc. Carl Perry at 410-520-5439 or cperry@oceancitymd.gov. Citizens may also contact the OCPD Crime Tips Hotline at 410-520-5136 or crimetips@oceancitymd.gov.

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FOUR ARRESTED AFTER OFFICERS WITNESS DRUG TRANSACTION

6-11-14 For Release(June 11, 2014) – On June 10, 2014 at approximately 1:05 a.m. detectives of the Ocean City Police Department Special Enforcement Unit working in a plain clothes capacity observed a drug transaction take place in the area of 8th Street and Wilmington Lane. One suspect, later identified as John E. Hunt III, 19, of Easton, MD, approached a vehicle that was occupied by three additional suspects in an attempt to sell them marijuana. The three additional suspects were later identified as Jerron A. Collier, 20, of Princess Anne, MD; Kyle M. Dennis, 20, of Westover, MD; and Avante T. Roberts, 24, of Princess Anne, MD.

A uniformed officer quickly arrived on the scene and approached the individuals at which point the vehicle fled driving north on Wilmington Lane at a high rate of speed and Hunt fled on foot. Officers broadcasted a description of the vehicle via Ocean City Communications and the Acura was stopped shortly after at the intersection of 20th Street and Philadelphia Avenue where Collier, Dennis and Roberts were arrested. During a search of the vehicle, officers seized marijuana and over $100 in US currency.

At approximately 2:40 a.m. OCPD Special Enforcement Unit detectives observed Hunt in the same parking lot where the initial drug transaction occured. Uniformed officers quickly responded and arrested Hunt without incident.

Ocean City Police charged Hunt with possession and distribution of marijuana. Collier and Roberts have been charged with possession of marijuana and Dennis, the driver of the vehicle, was charged with possession of marijuana, resisting arrest and multiple traffic citations. Collier, Roberts and Hunt were seen by a Maryland District Court Commissioner. Collier and Roberts were both released on their own recognizance. Hunt is currently being held at the Ocean City Public Safety Building on $5,000 bond. Dennis is awaiting his initial appearance.

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OCPD SEEKING PUBLIC’S ASSISTANCE IN IDENTIFYING CREDIT CARD THEFT SUSPECTS

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(June 4, 2014) – The Ocean City Police Department is asking the Ocean City community for assistance in a case involving unauthorized use of a credit card. On June 3rd, the victim noticed that her purse had been stolen from her vehicle and discovered that multiple fraudulent charges had been made on a credit card. Two suspects, acting together, made fraudulent purchases using the stolen credit card at numerous businesses on or near the Boardwalk.

The first suspect in this case is a heavy set, white female with blonde hair. The second suspect is described as a tall white male with a thin build and dark goatee. Video surveillance of the suspects has been collected by Ocean City officers.

Anyone with information regarding this case is asked to contact Pfc. Joseph Zurla at 410-520-5384 or jzurla@oceancitymd.gov. Citizens may also contact the OCPD Crime Tips Hotline at 410-520-5136 or crimetips@oceancitymd.gov.

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OCPD CHARGE VA MAN WITH RAPE, BURGLARY

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Romer Ortuno

(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.

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TWO BROTHERS ARRESTED BY OCPD FOR ASSAULT AND THEFT

Damon M. Middleton

Damon M. Middleton

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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.

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OCPD INTRODUCES SPECIALIZED DUI ENFORCEMENT

(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.

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OCPD TO HOST RAAM ID TRAINING SESSIONS

(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.

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OCPD ARREST SNOW HILL MAN FOR 1ST DEGREE ASSAULT AND BURGLARY

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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.

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