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Chief Massey keeps busy in familiar space as instructor

By Greg Ellison

(Sept. 10, 2020) After retiring at the start of August, former Ocean Pines Police Chief Dave Massey recently returned for a pair of recognition ceremonies but appears far from finished in the law enforcement arena.

Following a small-scale retirement celebration for Massey On Aug. 27 at the Ocean Pines Golf Clubhouse that was limited in scope due to covid-19 restrictions, a slightly expanded outdoor event was held last Friday at the White Horse Park Pavilion.

Speaking prior to the second shindig, Massey said the outside gathering would compensate for the limited invitation event the week prior.

“Friday is more open and it’s going to be for the employees and some other people who want to come,” he said. “People who weren’t able to make the small ceremony can come to the larger one.”

Massey said the initial ceremony felt gratifying after serving as a peacekeeper for close to a half-century and as the Ocean Pines police chief starting in 2003.

“It was a good time,” he said. “Several of my officers came [and] my family came.”

Massey said there were some unanticipated faces.

“I was very flattered the first [OPA] General Manager that hired me, Dave Ferguson, came back all the way from New Jersey,” he said.

Among the list of dignitaries speaking during the Golf Clubhouse event last week were current OPA GM John Viola and President Larry Perrone, along with Worcester County Commissioner Chip Bertino and Maryland Sen. Mary Beth Carozza (R-38).

“I got a governor’s citation, a commendation from the Worcester County Commissioners [and] a very nice thank you and plaque from Ocean Pines,” he said. “Several [OPA] Board members were there.”

The dignitaries repeated the process to a few more faces under the White Horse Park Pavilion last Friday.

Regardless of accolades for past decades of service, Massey is far from resting on his laurels.

“I’m slowly easing into retirement [but] I’ve got a lot of work to do,” he said.

Although stepping away from the streets, Massey continues to instruct at Wor-Wic Community College’s Police Academy in Salisbury.

“I’m teaching two classes at Wor-Wic,” he said.

The instructional offerings include police administration, which Massey has previously taught, and criminology.

“Criminology is a new class, so I had to do lesson plans,” he said. “It’s been several hours a day.”

Other “retirement” activities Massey has on tap include conducting first-line police administration seminars and helping revise a co-authored college textbook.

“I helped publish a policing textbook for college kids,” he said. “It’s called “Introduction to Policing” by Sage Publishing.”

Regardless of future pursuits, Massey said he was “blessed” to have spent his lengthy law enforcement career in a pair of tremendous communities.

“It’s been a long journey,” he said.

Massey kicked off his on-duty service clock as a seasonal officer in Ocean City before ascending to chief in that jurisdiction, followed by serving the past 17 years as the top law enforcement official in Ocean Pines.

“I couldn’t ask for two more different communities and two great communities,” he said. “One is the second largest city in the state of Maryland for [several] months a year … and then Ocean Pines is a smaller residential community.”

Moving from running a police department in a tourist area to a more residential environment was a big change, Massey said.

“You always want to go from something super busy to something less busy,” he said. “You never want to go the other way from slow to busy.”

Massey said the script flip has proven beneficial for instructional efforts.

“It gives me greater diversity in my police career [so] I can talk about big departments [and] … small departments,” he said.

Among Massey’s proudest law enforcement accomplishments are handing the reins to familiar faces when leaving top posts in Ocean City and Ocean Pines.

“I’m happy that in both places I was chief of police I trained my successor,” he said.

Former Ocean City Police Chief Bernadette DiPino, who is now the Sarasota, Florida police chief, took over when Massey stepped down from his Ocean City post in 2003. Current Ocean Pines Police Chief Leo Ehrisman inherited that role on Massey’s retirement from that department.

“They both were on my command staff,” he said. “I guess they liked what I was doing because they allowed people that came up under me to take my place.

“The good thing is once you retire,” he added, “you always miss the people, but you’ve pretty much done the job and got it out of your system. Now it’s time to move on to something different.”

In his instance, Massey it will be teaching in the trenches.

“I was trained in college to be a teacher so it kind of worked in seamlessly,” he said.

In fact, Massey spent the larger part of his years in uniform teaching at the Wor-Wic Police Academy.

“You’ve got to keep your mind active [and] have a purpose to life,” he said. “My purpose is to bring these young men and women along and that’s what I enjoy.”