(April 13, 2018) The annual search for seasonal police officers in Ocean City proved a bit easier this year after many familiar faces returned for another summer of duty.
Last year we had three returning seasonal officers [and] this year there are 18, Chief Ross Buzzuro told the Police Commission Monday.
Buzzuro also reported that the department has hired 49 new recruits, with 10 awaiting completion of background checks. In addition, he said the city trains public safety aides, many of whom also are returning.
There are 19 returning public safety aides and there are 71 new public safety aides, so there is a total of 90, he said.
While funding is available for about a dozen more seasonal officers than the 67 brought on board this year, Buzzuro said the slight deficit is balanced out elsewhere.
Although were budgeted for 80 seasonal officers, we are over the allotted number for public safety needs, he said. Were actually slightly above and beyond the total number, which is a pretty good situation to be in.
Councilman Dennis Dare also noted that half a dozen public safety aides from 2017 are being promoted to seasonal officers.
The program is working, he said.
Councilman Wayne Hartman, while enthused by the recent data, asked if the number of returning recruits might be an aberration.
Thats just one year, thats not necessarily the trend, he said.
Dare countered that the improvement was indisputable.
Thats better than last year, he said.
Buzzuro said while efforts to recruit candidates have improved slightly in recent years, staffing continues to be problematic.
If we go back to 2016, it was a struggle to hire officers, he said. We are still challenged by issues that are happening within the profession.
Recent steps to focus recruiting in areas most likely to yield the best results appear to be working, Buzzuro said.
By increasing recruitment to the right areas, were seeing positive results, he said.
Jessica Waters, Ocean City communication manager, also pointed out that the role of public safety aides has grown in recent seasons.
Theyre not just using them in booking [and] writing citations, she said. Theyre essentially becoming a true partner with the officers and handling more enforcement.
In that regard, Hartman sees the public safety aide program as a good source of potential seasonal officers.
This would be the first place they could choose to come back, he said. Even though it is only one year, lets hope turns into a trend.