Crime Spikes In Ocean City As Vacation Season Heats Up (Transcript) | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

Transcripts

Crime Spikes In Ocean City As Vacation Season Heats Up

MS. REBECCA SHEIR

00:00:08
I'm Rebecca Sheir and welcome back to "Metro Connection." Today we're going theme-free and bringing you one of our free-wheeling Wild Cards shows. And speaking of wild, some folks in a certain beach town are worried things are getting too wild of late. And that's the topic of this weeks, On The Coast…

MS. REBECCA SHEIR

00:00:28
…in which reporter Bryan Russo gets us up to speed on the latest news from the Eastern Shore of Maryland and Coastal Delaware. And Bryan joins us now from Ocean City. Hey there, Bryan.

MR. BRYAN RUSSO

00:00:37
Hey, Rebecca. How are you?

SHEIR

00:00:38
I'm all right, all right. So, Bryan, you just heard me read that intro, what is up with all of these wild times in Ocean City?

RUSSO

00:00:45
Well, the answer to that question is actually a little more complicated than you might think. A lot of people were rattled earlier this month by two separate stabbing incidents, one on the boardwalk, and one farther uptown in North Ocean City. In the latter incident, there were three stabbing victims, an 18-year-old woman, a 19-year-old man, and a 20-year-old man.

RUSSO

00:01:03
I talked about Ocean City crime with Steve Green. He's the editor and publisher of the Maryland Coast Dispatch. That's a weekly newspaper covering the resort.

MR. STEVE GREEN

00:01:10
You know, really, what everyone is observing here is that we have a changing clientele this time of year. You know, early June and late May is known for being Junebug season, you know, and some of the arrests are clearly Junebug incidents.

SHEIR

00:01:24
Oh, Junebugs, we talked about them a couple weeks back on the show, right?

RUSSO

00:01:28
Right. Now, we should note that these two stabbings didn't involve Senior Weekers, per se. But police statistics tell us there's a drastic uptick in crime each June in Ocean City, and it's often attributed to the younger demographic that's visiting the resort. Locals, of course, call them Junebugs.

SHEIR

00:01:44
Are the Junebugs really causing more trouble than usual this year?

RUSSO

00:01:47
Police officials tell me no, statistically speaking, of course. And this year certain special events are getting the share of the blame, too, because of incidents that have happened during those weekends. So for every Dew Tour and Ocean City Air Show, which seemed to draw in families and be really good for town/public relations, you also have an event like the O.C. Car and Truck Show that came under fire this year for inviting well-known gangster rapper Fat Joe to town.

RUSSO

00:02:10
But there's no clear link showing that those events are to blame for the increase in crime. So it seems to be a perception verse reality situation so far in Ocean City. And perhaps that is most eloquently highlighted in rumors of gang presence in Ocean City. Here's Steve Green, again.

GREEN

00:02:26
There is documentation that there was some gang-like activity two weekends ago.

RUSSO

00:02:30
But unrelated to these stabbings.

GREEN

00:02:32
Yes. Unrelated to these stabbings, yes. But the concern was that some of these guys/groups were coming down here to raise hell in our town. And there's social media documentation where we had screen shots sent to us, where there was some kind of rivalry that was going to take place in Ocean City. So these are things that don't sit well.

SHEIR

00:02:53
That's interesting, but I'm curious, what do the police have to say about all this?

RUSSO

00:02:58
Well, I talked with Ocean City police spokesman Mike Levy. He says concerns about gangs are way overblown.

MR. MIKE LEVY

00:03:05
We do not have homegrown gangs in Ocean City. There is no organized gang-type activity here, and if there was, we would be combatting it with every resource available to us to send the message, and I think we continue to be very vigilant about that.

RUSSO

00:03:20
He also says increases in crime are totally normal, especially when you have a huge spike in population like we do every summer in Ocean City.

LEVY

00:03:28
We are not any worse this year than we were in previous years.

RUSSO

00:03:32
Sure.

LEVY

00:03:32
In fact, if you want to look at some raw data, we're actually a little bit better.

SHEIR

00:03:37
And I'm thinking that that little bit better is the takeaway that tourism officials in Ocean City would really like to emphasize right about now.

RUSSO

00:03:42
Well, yeah, that's an absolute understatement. For people who live on the coast year 'round, though, this time of the year, when they make the money that gets them through the winter months. So no one wants any messages floating around that could dissuade people from coming to the beach.

SHEIR

00:03:57
Well, have we seen any evidence that that is actually happening? You know, that tourists are opting to go elsewhere?

RUSSO

00:04:02
Anecdotally, no. I went down to the boardwalk to ask business owners what they're seeing. I talked to a man name Dan Troiano. He owns a boardwalk boutique called Dimensions. He says the only thing that really keeps the crowds away is bad weather. And he thinks the recent increase in crime is just a blip on the radar screen.

MR. DAN TROIANO

00:04:21
You know, every season starts out a little worse, and I get a little worried, but they all go away. As soon as the rates go up and it's more family time, it disappears and it turns into a nice town.

SHEIR

00:04:30
Well, Bryan, I guess we'll just have to wait and see how the summer unfolds, but in the meantime, thank you so much for keeping us up to date on what's happening out there in Ocean City.

RUSSO

00:04:38
You're welcome, Rebecca. My pleasure.

SHEIR

00:04:41
Bryan Russo is the Costal reporter for WAMU and the host of "Coastal Connection," on 88.3 in Ocean City, Md. And we're curious, if you're a fan of our local beaches, what factors do you consider when you choosing your vacation spot? Let us know all about it. Our email address is metro@wamu.org and you can find us on Twitter. Our handle is @wamumetro.
Transcripts of WAMU programs are available for personal use. Transcripts are provided "As Is" without warranties of any kind, either express or implied. WAMU does not warrant that the transcript is error-free. For all WAMU programs, the broadcast audio should be considered the authoritative version. Transcripts are owned by WAMU 88.5 American University Radio and are protected by laws in both the United States and International law. You may not sell or modify transcripts or reproduce, display, distribute, or otherwise use the transcript, in whole or in part, in any way for any public or commercial purpose without the express written permission of WAMU. All requests for uses beyond personal and noncommercial use should be referred to (202) 885-1200.