Numbers may look big, but show solidly positive signs 

(May 24, 2019) Police numbers are in for the Cruisin’ Ocean City event last weekend and as much as they might be taken as troubling by some, local officials see them as a major improvement.

Resort officials on Monday said the event has improved significantly since a low point two years ago, when there was vigorous debate on whether Cruisin’ should even be allowed to continue.

Ocean City Communications Manager Jessica Waters said last week’s event produced 2,065 total calls for services, 1,028 traffic stops and 69 arrests during the four-day period, from last Thursday through Sunday.

Traffic enforcement – by Ocean City Police and allied agencies – totaled 2,438 citations and warnings, with 1,379 total citations handed out, according to Waters.

By comparison, according to online police records, there were 206 total arrests and incidents filed in 2017 during the Cruisin’ event, compared to just 131 this year.

Police Chief Ross Buzzuro said law enforcement was “very, very proactive” throughout Cruisin’, from posting lower speed limit signs during the beginning of the week, to better coordinating assistance with state police.

Buzzuro Cruisin

Ocean City Police Chief Ross Buzzuro on Monday offers an update on the recent Cruisin' event during a City Council meeting, Monday night. 

“The event seemed more manageable. It seemed to be more controlled,” he said. “There was more compliance on the part of the motorists, as well as our citizenry on the sidelines.

“From my standpoint … it seemed like it had just notched itself down,” Buzzuro continued. “There wasn’t as much as some of the nonsense and the debauchery that we’ve seen in some years past.”

During prior years, for example, St. Louis Avenue had effectively turned into a drag strip, Buzzuro said.

“I believe it was a combination of the things that helped,” he said, crediting both lower speed limits and event organizers, who moved some of activities out of Ocean City.

“There were, I think, almost 1,000 folks that went over to the Delmar raceway. When you take that out of the equation, it helped us considerably,” he said.

“Overall, [there were] nothing in terms of collisions that were severe or significant, like we’ve seen in years past … Hopefully, we’ve turned a corner,” Buzzuro added.

Mayor Rick Meehan thanked members of the Motor Event Taskforce, which includes representatives from the Greater Ocean City Chamber of Commerce, Ocean City Hotel-Motel-Restaurant Association, Maryland State highway Administration and others.

“It really is a good taskforce,” he said.

Meehan reiterated the apparent success of the Special Event Zone and said the city had gone the extra mile to work with property owners, businesses and police to better handle motor events in town.

“You see a lot more security and you see a lot more cooperation from some of these establishments, to work with the chief to make sure that we can manage this event,” he said.

He also singled out Public Works Director Hal Adkins and the department for changing the speed limit signs, as well as event promoters for their efforts.

“I really think that they’re working with us,” Meehan said. “I also want to compliment the motor vehicle clubs [and] the hot rod associations … I had more and more of those individuals come up to me and say, ‘We support what you’re doing, we want the event to be the event it was.’

“Nothing is perfect – nothing will ever be perfect – but I think we have turned a corner,” he continued. “And I think we’ve lost a few people, but that’s OK, because they’re going to be replaced by others.”

Councilman John Gehrig also said the event was much improved.

“We’ve come a long way,” he said. “It was a rather contentious council meeting we had last year … about this very event, and maybe not contracting with the promoter” for the event to continue.”

Gehrig said it was high praise that both Buzzuro and Meehan said Cruisin’ had turned a corner.

“There’s still work to be done, but from where we were to where we are now, that’s why these taskforces can work,” he said. “There are a lot of smart people on this taskforce and it just goes to show you what happens when you put people in a room and work it out.”

Josh Davis is an MDDC award-winning editor and reporter at the Bayside Gazette and Ocean City Today newspapers, covering Berlin and Ocean Pines, Maryland. He is the author of three novels, including 'Vanishing is the Last Art' (2012). He lives in Berlin.

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