(Oct. 4, 2019) City officials, police officers and residents say “enough,” after participants of a social media-arranged car event held the city hostage last weekend, defying law enforcement and endangering lives.
“What took place this past weekend in Ocean City can never happen again,” Mayor Rick Meehan said. “They placed our town, as well as our citizens and visitors, under siege and in danger, which is unacceptable.”
Meehan, alongside Ocean City Police Chief Ross Buzzuro, held a press conference Monday to express the city’s commitment in finding ways to prevent future tuner car mayhem.
However, they acknowledged that the road ahead would be difficult.
“This group of people … we’re not going to be able to keep them away,” Buzzuro said. “[But] we are already starting to prepare … for next year. Nothing is off the table. We’re going to look at every imaginable measure we can deploy into this, because we have to figure out ways to resolve this.”
Buzzuro said the solution would be multi-faceted, and would require multiple measures to safeguard the city.
“I don’t think we’re getting enough of deterrence in the form of the fine amounts that we could see through legislation,” Buzzuro said. “Heightened fines, maybe it’s not the solution, but if enough people are deterred from doing it [traffic violations] in the future, it could certainly be some type of a relief valve from what we’re experiencing.”
Then Delegate now Sen. Mary Beth Carozza, (R-1), and former Sen. Jim Mathias, (D-38), introduced the original Special Event Zone legislation in 2018, which passed.
However, the bill was heavily watered down, and did not include increased penalties for violations such as reckless and negligent driving.
Carozza and Del. Wayne Hartman, (R-38C), attempted to expand this legislation in March through Senate Bill 682 and a partner bill in the House of Delegates, but the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee voted unanimously to issue an unfavorable report, killing the bill.
“The increased reckless, destructive, and illegal activity over the past H2Oi weekend demonstrated that the Maryland General Assembly should have passed our 2019 special events increased penalties bill,” Carozza said. “I will continue to work with Mayor Meehan, Police Chief Buzzuro, the Hogan Administration, and my colleagues to take all necessary actions, including legislation, to protect our home community.”
Hartman said he is working in conjunction with the mayor and Carozza, and would continue working toward viable solutions toward curtailing future vehicular onslaughts.
State Sen. Jill Carter, (D-41), who is a member of the Senate committee that voted down Carozza’s bill declined to comment on whether she would entertain further expansions on Special Event Zone regulations in light of the past weekend’s events in Ocean City.
Committee Chairman Sen. Robert “Bobby” Zirkin, (D-11), and other members of the committee could not be reached for comment.
“We went before the state legislature last year to ask for additions to our Special Event Zones, and we were denied, and they had concerns about some of the things we asked for,” Meehan said. “Well, I certainly hope that proof of what occurred this weekend will help satisfy and justify our requests when we go back to the state legislature this year.”