Ocean City and state officials said they believe they successfully handled an unsanctioned, pop-up car rally that drew Fourth of July crowds to the Maryland resort.
Police issued more than 3,500 citations and made 2,500 traffic stops. Over 350 vehicles were towed and impounded, and several hundred people were arrested after clashes with police, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said.
Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan said the city’s response to the unofficial H20i rally was a “success in the fact that we made a statement; we had a plan in place. We adopted that plan successfully.”
Meehan was joined Monday by Ocean City police Chief Ross Buzzuro as they provided an update on what happened over the past week and weekend.
“I would say that success may not be the appropriate word,” Buzzuro said. “I would say that the measures that we introduced through legislation, exhibition driving and heightened fines, and the ability to tow vehicles that were deemed unsafe, those measures assisted us greatly.”
Buzzuro said that tens of thousands descended into the city, rivaling Fourth of July weekend numbers.
“So with that number of people and the measures we were able to introduce, (that) gave us an ability to maintain control virtually throughout the four to five days of this event. So in that regard, we saw a degree of success,” Buzzuro said.
Another measure Ocean City implemented was diverting traffic out of the downtown area. That gave the town the ability to add more law enforcement into those areas, which Buzzuro described as a further layer of protection and security in mitigating issues happening downtown with motorists on the road and the number of people off the roadway.
By Saturday, Buzzuro said there was an uptick in the volume of calls for service.
“So we moved traffic and prevented traffic from traveling southbound from 90; we channel that traffic northbound. I know that that caused congestion, but it also gave us the ability to further control our environment,” said Buzzuro, who added that the move was necessary to maintain security and control of midtown and downtown.
Ocean City also called on more law enforcement.
“We continued on as best to our ability to mitigate all the issues, all the calls for service, all the roadway violations…we were citing as many violations as possible, as well as making as many arrests as possible to maintain a degree of control,” Buzzuro said.
Ocean City called on available law enforcement personnel in the Eastern Shore, which resulted in several hundred additional officers “giving us a helping hand,” Buzzuro said.
One state trooper was knocked unconscious while trying to make an arrest.
Despite the number of arrests and citations, Buzzuro said the rally was not a “crime-fueled event.” And even with the thousands of people that were there, there was minimal amounts of destruction of property and not a high number of assaultive behavior.
“It was the disorderly piece in this order that we were trying to maintain,” Buzzuro said.
The police chief added that bottles and bricks were thrown at officers, and there were damages to police vehicles.
Hogan praised the additional law enforcement agencies that assisted Ocean City police.
I want to commend and thank the sixteen allied state and local law enforcement agencies that immediately mobilized to assist the Ocean City Police Department in its response to the unruly disturbance over the weekend.
My full statement: pic.twitter.com/oK7S7fpedI
— Governor Larry Hogan (@GovLarryHogan) September 28, 2020
Meehan said that if the “unsanctioned pop-up event” did not take place in Ocean City, “That certainly would be fine with us.”