(Aug. 16, 2019) While this July’s calls for service remain level, if not reduced, in comparison to last season’s numbers, members of the Ocean City Police Commission were baffled by a spike in 911 hang-ups.
Ocean City Police Chief Ross Buzzuro on Monday showed members of the commission charts detailing calls the department had received last month.
Out of the top 25 calls for service, 15 areas saw a reduction in calls.
Particularly impressive were the drops in city ordinance violation and controlled dangerous substances violation calls, which were reduced by almost half this July: 4,646 to 2,979 and 101 to 69, respectively.
However, the number of callers who hung up on the police department doubled from 538 incidents in 2018 to 1,084 in 2019.
“Police are dispatched every time there is a 911 hang-up to confirm that there is not an issue,” Director of Emergency Services Joe Theobald said.
This means that time, money and resources are being expended at double the rate of last year.
Furthermore, these calls have been spread out citywide, making it even more difficult to pinpoint a cause for the 911 hang-ups.
“Could it be in correlation to hotel occupancy?” Councilman Matt James asked Theobald. “I know we have a lot of people that call as a mistake from hotel rooms.”
In many hotels, a guest must dial the number nine before making a call.
James suggested looking at statistics from 2016 and 2017 to see if there was a relationship between the two factors.
Mayor Rick Meehan asked whether it was a system issue.
“No, but I think it’s something that we have to watch for another month … and look at a weekly basis,” Theobald said.
In addition, Theobald suggested it could be legitimate hang-ups, and that callers may have simply decided that they no longer need the assistance of the police department.
For now, until further investigation sheds light on this issue, OCPD will attribute the increased 911 hang-ups to accidental pocket dialing.