OCEAN CITY, Md. — Sitting at a convention room desk on the third ground of the Ocean Metropolis Public Security Constructing, Mayor Rick Meehan was adamant: The chaos that occurred through the 2019 pop-up automobile rally will “by no means occur once more.”
This 12 months, Ocean Metropolis has made a number of modifications to the way it plans to police the pop-up automobile rally with a purpose to again up Meehan’s 2019 assertion.
On the finish of every September, automobile lovers from throughout the Mid-Atlantic area flock to Ocean Metropolis in an occasion known as H2Oi. The precise H2Oi automobile occasion used to assemble in Ocean Metropolis with occasion held in Whaleyville and Berlin, however left city years in the past as a result of it could not management its crowds.
Now every September 1000’s of automobile lovers collect in Ocean Metropolis for a loosely organized, weekend-long compilation of racing, automobile crashes, smoking tires and quite a few arrests.
2019 was a very unhealthy 12 months for the occasion. Legislation enforcement issued greater than 1,500 citations, arrested 121 people and responded to almost 3,000 requires service all throughout final 12 months’s occasion.
“I believed that the exercise and among the issues that we witnessed (final 12 months) in Ocean Metropolis have been simply unacceptable,” Meehan mentioned forward of this 12 months’s occasion. “We invite all people to Ocean Metropolis. All we do is ask that they obey our legal guidelines and respect our police division. With this specific group, that simply did not happen, and that may’t proceed.”
Ocean Metropolis’s plan this 12 months will incorporate the usage of a number of hundred law enforcement officials, together with one of many largest deployments of state police personnel and assets to help Ocean Metropolis with H2Oi ever, to keep up order on the town.
“The plan is way more concerned than it has been up to now,” Meehan mentioned. “(Police) are taking a look at monitoring site visitors, diverting site visitors, sending site visitors out of city throughout totally different instances if in actual fact there’s issues. They’re taking a look at the usage of pace bumps in some areas to guard our locals in residential communities.”
Legislature strengthens particular occasion zone policing
Forward of this 12 months’s occasion, the city of Ocean Metropolis additionally lobbied the Maryland Common Meeting to go an expanded model of the state’s particular occasion zone regulation.
For practically two years, Ocean Metropolis urged the Common Meeting to go a bigger particular occasion zone regulation that handled “exhibition driving,” however Republican State Sen. Mary Beth Carozza (District 38, Somerset, Wicomico and Worcester counties) mentioned the legislature wasn’t inclined to help the laws.
It wasn’t till after the chaos of the 2019 H2Oi occasion that the legislature reconsidered the expanded particular occasion zone laws, mentioned Carozza.
“The aim of the laws is to provide the extra instruments to regulation enforcement with a purpose to defend the general public,” Carozza mentioned. “These are instruments that regulation enforcement has not had up to now.”
Beneath the expanded regulation, the next actions in a particular occasion zone will be punished by 60 days in jail and/or a $1,000 effective:
- Extreme or abrupt acceleration or deceleration.
- Skidding, squealing, burning or smoking tires.
- Swerving or swaying a automobile.
- Producing an unreasonably loud engine noise.
- Grinding gears.
- Wheels shedding contact with the bottom.
- Transporting a passenger on the hood or roof
One of many classes Ocean Metropolis took away from final 12 months is the city did not have the authority to keep up management of the automobile lovers, Meehan mentioned. That may change this 12 months with the bigger particular occasion zone regulation.
“(Escalating the scenario) is all the time one thing you must be cognizant of,” Meehan mentioned. “That’s why our messaging is we do not need to do these items, however we should be ready to have the ability to implement the regulation and defend our communities.”
Police tactical modifications
Ocean Metropolis can be enacting different insurance policies past simply the modifications to the particular occasion zone regulation.
Ocean Metropolis plans to flood the streets round city with a whole bunch of law enforcement officials from the next regulation enforcement businesses:
- Ocean Metropolis Police Division
- Worcester County Sheriff’s Workplace
- Maryland State Police
- Wicomico County Sheriff’s Workplace
- Queen Anne’s County Sheriff’s Workplace
- Maryland Pure Assets Police
Maryland State Police plan to deploy state troopers from 5 totally different barracks throughout Maryland to Ocean Metropolis, in what Berlin Barrack Commander Lt. Earl Starner mentioned can be “one of many largest deployments of troopers to the city that we’ve had.”
Police plan to make use of site visitors sample shifts, pace bumps and elevated towing to keep up order on the town.
Guests and Worcester County residents will discover a large police presence in West Ocean Metropolis and all through the entire county, mentioned Sheriff Matthew Crisafulli.
“The women and men of my company are going to be out in full drive, and once more, that’s to make sure everybody’s security,” Crisafulli mentioned. “We may have our eyes open for any and all violations that we encounter.”
The particular occasion zone will even prolong out into Worcester County quite than simply be positioned inside Ocean Metropolis, Crisafulli mentioned.
The next areas in Worcester County will likely be included within the particular occasion zone, based on Crisafulli:
- Route 50 between Route 589 and Ocean Metropolis
- Route 90 between Route 589 and Ocean Metropolis
- Route 611 between Route 50 and Airport Street
“It actually is sort of a massive circle exterior of Ocean Metropolis that type of covers the vast majority of the West Ocean Metropolis space, and the most important routes that lead into West Ocean Metropolis and Ocean Metropolis,” Crisafulli mentioned.
Individuals who drive via northern Worcester County, particularly in and round Ocean Metropolis, ought to anticipate site visitors delays, Crisafulli mentioned.
Police are asking folks to keep away from the areas in and round Ocean Metropolis, however Crisafulli mentioned drivers ought to train “due care and warning” in the event that they do plan to enterprise out.
“I believe folks ought to anticipate a really giant contingency of regulation enforcement officers all through Worcester County,” Crisafulli mentioned. “Our areas of concern are typically going to be within the Ocean Metropolis and West Ocean Metropolis space, however we’re going to have a big contingency of law enforcement officials out.”