Questions about policing on Ocean City Boardwalk
A year before video of the violent arrests of six Black teenagers in this Maryland resort town went viral, spurring calls for reform and demands for an investigation, a police lieutenant grabbed a White man who was shouting insults at officers and punched him in the face.
The Ocean City Police Department said the lieutenant’s actions were “within policy” that day on the crowded boardwalk, where the population swells with nearly 8 million visitors each year, and officers on foot and bicycle are charged with maintaining a “family friendly atmosphere.”
But on many summer days and nights, the atmosphere is decidedly unfriendly, with police — some veterans, some freshly trained — enduring taunts and name-calling from beach goers and sometimes resorting to violence in confrontations over infractions like drinking in the street, trespassing or vaping on the boardwalk.
Records released by the department show its officers use force a couple hundred times a year during arrests that are concentrated in the summer season. Policing experts say such confrontations illustrate the importance of de-escalation techniques, especially in today’s charged law enforcement environment. While limited, publicly available data shows the violent arrests in Ocean City have involved both Black and White civilians, with a disproportionate percentage of use-of-force incidents involving Black people.
At a time when Maryland and other states are launching new efforts to hold police officers accountable, and the nation is paying closer attention to police treatment of minorities, the June 6 and 12 arrests of several young Black men have drawn national attention.Ocean City boardwalk: Violent arrests of unarmed young men raise questions about policing
Recent violent arrests of six Black teenagers have fueled new calls for better training and officer restraint.