By Ava-joye Burnett

OCEAN CITY, MD. (WJZ) — Ocean City police have stepped up their presence on the Boardwalk and around town after several violent incidents were reported so far this beach season.

The Ocean City Police Department said it has increased its law enforcement presence on the Boardwalk and around town by 25 percent in response to the various incidents happening over the last several weeks.

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“It’s different this year. It’s dramatically different,” Mayor Rick Meehan said. “Typically, we have the graduating seniors, high school and even some college seniors here, but this is a different group. Rather than ages 17 to 21, really what we are seeing is 17 to maybe 31, 32, so it’s a different group all together.”

Just over the last weekend, between June 11 and June 14, police made 129 arrests compared to 95 total arrests that same weekend in 2019.

Police said on June 17 they have identified the Boardwalk assault victim.

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“In recent weeks, Ocean City has seen unprecedented violence and unruly behavior in our town,” Ocean City Police Chief Ross Buzzuro said. “We are moving in the right direction. We have significantly increased our presence and made nearly 130 arrests over the weekend.  These individuals will be charged for the serious crimes that they have committed. I want to assure our residents and visitors of the capabilities and commitment of the OCPD. We will remain vigilant and proactive in continuing to protect our town.”

Videos show several incidents along the beach town’s boardwalk over the weekend. One video shows a brawl on the boardwalk where a man can be seen beating another man with what looks like a metal pole. Police are seen on camera trying to stop the incident.

[WARNING: We are linking out to some of the videos due to explicit language and violence.]

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Another video shows police trying to disperse crowds on the boardwalk. People are seen running away after something is thrown into the crowd. Eyewitnesses sid it’s a tear gas-like substance, but police have not confirmed what was used.

And in another video, two young men are seen fighting along the boardwalk. Then police are seen chasing them and tackling one suspect and taking another into custody.

Wendy Dibuo’s family owns The Cork Bar and Cross Street Tavern in Ocean City.

“This past week, everyone was so happy and excited to be able to have people back inside our establishments,” Dibuo said.

She also said, like other Ocean City businesses, they’ve had to close early on a few occasions.

“Rather than have a problem, they’d rather eliminate the problem and close down. Over this past weekend, our block didn’t have any problems,” Dibuo said.

As for the new officers, the Mayor said the city will now have to accelerate the process of hiring new officers and he believes the city council will approve this plan.

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“It’s a great expense, 10 additional officers, but I think everyone understands what the need is,” Mayor Meehan said.

Ava-joye Burnett