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Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


OP police dept. exploring options to stay competitive

(Jan. 22, 2015) Looking to stay competitive with neighboring municipalities, the Ocean Pines Police Department is exploring new retirement plan options and is asking the community for a $3,000 pay raise for entry-level officers.
Currently, officers receive a 401k plan with three percent of their annual salary contributed by the Ocean Pines Association.
“We’re competing against police agencies that have a defined benefit program, state retirement, 25-year retirement, and right now we’re on a 401k program,” Chief of Police David Massey said. “That’s an area that we’re at a little bit of a disadvantage at.”
Massey praised Ocean Pines’ medical plan for police officers, but said the community could stand to improve its offerings in other areas.
“It’s something we look at from time to time to see if there’s a possibility for improvement,” he said. “It’s a competitive market out there in law enforcement. Those areas that we’re not quite up to at competing agencies, sometimes we’re at a disadvantage.”
According to Massey, Ocean Pines police officers are not entitled to state-funded retirement plans because of the community designation.
“We looked at the state law enforcement officer’s bill of rights, and we’re not eligible because we’re not a municipality,” Massey said. “I know our general manager is looking at several different types of alternatives. That’s an area we’re constantly looking at because we’re trying to keep younger officers. It’s a benefit to be at an equal footing or close to it.”
Massey also asked the community for a pay raise from $38,000 to $41,000 for entry-level officers, a move that would affect three members of his current staff.
“That would put us in the middle,” Massey said. “Right now we’re on the lower tier of the agencies we’re competing against.
“We want to keep the younger officers so we don’t have much turnover,” Massey continued. “When we send a police officer candidate to the police academy, it’s a six-month training period, so that’s quite an investment, and when we lose a younger officer we’re not really getting the full amount for our investment. We’re looking at ways of keeping the younger officers from leaving the agency, and one of them is raising the starting salary to what they would compete at within the county.”
The six-month training program costs the community approximately $20,000, according to Massey.
“We’re looking at ways to lower any kind of turnover, and one of the ways we can do that is becoming more competitive with the agencies we’re competing against in Worcester County.”
One advantage the community does have going for it are the consistently low crime rates, a tool Massey said is often used attract younger officers into law enforcement.
In 2014, Safewise Report named Ocean Pines at the top of the “10 Safest Cities in Maryland” list, while listed the community at number two on the “10 Safest Places in Maryland” roundup.
“We’re a very safe community,” Massey said. “We’re the safest per capita community in Worcester County and indeed we’re one of the safest in the state. I think that’s a big attraction for our community.
“People need to feel secure in their community, especially people that come down from the metro area,” Massey continued. “They come down and one of the greatest attractions is the safety of this community. It’s a great county. We have a good sheriff’s department and state police, and we work well with all the police agencies.”
Massey said preliminary crime statistics in 2014 dropped significantly over 2013, and remain dramatically lower than in neighboring Ocean City.
“Ocean City is a tourist community,” Massey said. “Probably 95 percent of the population in the summer are transient. Ocean Pines is a residential community, so we have a much more stable population.
“We don’t have the alcohol establishments that Ocean City has, and we don’t have quite the alcohol-related crimes that Ocean City would have, the disorderly conduct and some of the more assaultive behavior that you have,” Massey continued.
Because of the residential nature of the community, Ocean Pines does have its share of domestic violence cases, child abuse, juvenile crimes, drug-related crime and theft.
“Property crimes is an area that we do have,” Massey said. “That can be someone coming in the community and committing a number of thefts. We’ve had thefts from vehicles, and just about every case it’s an unlocked vehicle.
“Sometimes people I think in this community take it for granted that there is no crime, and that’s not true because every community has crime,” Massey continued. “We just want to make it harder for the criminals to take those easy thefts. Our goal is to reduce the crimes of opportunity in this community.”