To the citizens of Ocean City:
Ocean City is a vibrant tourist destination known for our beautiful beaches, family friendly events, great dining and amenities, and our safe, clean community. Tourism is the foundation of our economy and we pride ourselves on welcoming everyone to enjoy our beautiful city. At the same time, we expect our guests to respect our town, our citizens, and our laws and ordinances.
Unfortunately, this weekend brought visitors with much different intentions. While H2O International is not, and has never been, a city-hosted or sanctioned event and was officially cancelled this year, we still hosted thousands of participants. There were a handful of visitors this weekend who came to simply enjoy our city. Unfortunately, it was the vast majority of the participants that quickly ruined it for everyone, with unruly behavior and zero respect for our laws and property. The isolated incidents of violence combined with heavy traffic, littler, rude behavior, and negligent driving cast a very negative view over the whole weekend.
Considering the number of unruly visitors, I believe our officers, together with partner agencies, including the Maryland State Police, Maryland Transportation Authority, and sheriff’s officers from Worcester, Wicomico and Queen Anne’s counties, did an outstanding job of preventing events from escalating even further. I am extremely proud to have witnessed the level of professionalism displayed by our officers in the face of such adversity.
Based on preliminary reports:
- Officers responded to 2,735 total calls for service from Thursday, September 28 through Sunday, October 1. Only 21% of those calls for service were initiated by citizens, which tells me that our officers were proactive and addressed any issues quickly throughout the entire weekend.
- Several of these calls for service involved large crowds of unruly individuals seeking to instigate police officers to engage them. Our officers remained disciplined and monitored the crowds, taking measured action as required
- Several officers suffered minor injuries during interactions with arrestees. On Saturday night, one of our officers and a Worcester County Sheriff’s deputy were struck and thrown to the hood of a fleeing vehicle, forcing officers to fire their weapons. Thankfully, no officers or suspects were seriously injured as a result of this incident.
- Officers arrested 78 individuals. While one individual was charged with attempted murder, the majority face disorderly conduct, open container, 2nd degree assault and other similar charges.
It was very discouraging, to say the least, to see the amount of destruction to our town and the appalling behavior of many visitors. From trash throughout parking lots to tire markings at many intersections, our Public Works crews have worked diligently to restore the beauty of our town. We express our sincerest thanks to them for their efforts.
We understand our residents’ concerns about the events that occurred over the weekend and assure you that we share those concerns. While we assess the weekend and consider actions to take moving forward, it is critically important that we not allow one weekend to take away from what Ocean City is: a safe, beautiful, and clean place where families live and visit.
Ross Buzzuro, Chief of Police