By Josh Davis, Associate Editor
(March 21, 2019) The Ocean Pines Police Department is having a tough time retaining officers, according to Chief David Massey.
Massey, during a March 9 board meeting, said the current job market is extremely competitive.
“We’re losing our younger officers, the ones that just come into the department, the ones in the first three-to-four years that leave the department because they’re going to other agencies,” he said. “Being in that competitive market, we’re looking at ways that are going to benefit not only Ocean Pines, but the workforce.”
One of the things he encouraged was a vehicle take-home agreement to encourage officers to live in the community. Currently, he said only one member of the association police force lives in Ocean Pines.
“I’d like to be able to go to our younger recruits and say, ‘We really would like you to live in our community, and this is the benefit,’” he said.
Massey said an officer who lives in Ocean Pines would instantly become another available resource to be called upon in case of emergencies.
“Every other agency that we compete against has this kind of program,” Massey said, adding he compared the practices of neighboring communities and drafted a proposal to bring the policy to Ocean Pines.
“Ours is more restrictive, because we require residency. I think that’s the benefit of the community, that we actually get a police officer vehicle parked in our neighborhood,” Massey said.
He cited an earlier complaint by resident Susan Canfora, and said a police vehicle parked on Footbridge trail would likely slow traffic there.
“There is a benefit to the community,” Massey said. “And it’s a very minimal expense. Really, the small numbers that would avail themselves [of] this program would not require us to expand our fleet considerably. And another benefit is, we could extend the life of some of our vehicles.”
At present, Massey said police vehicles were essentially used 24 hours per day, 365 days per year, while being cycled through three on-duty officers.
“In a take-home vehicle program, you would get a high-mileage car issued to one officer, who would only use it during his or her work hours, and a few hours other than that,” he said. “We could extend the life of the vehicle from the 150,000 mile mark [currently used], to probably somewhere … like 175,000 miles. That would mean that take-home officer would have that car for two more years.”
Massey said senior officers were unlikely to relocate, but the program could affect some of the younger officers being targeted.
“It would help us be more competitive in recruitment … and I think it would aid in retention,” Massey said.
Association President Doug Parks said the board agreed in concept, but still needed to refine some administrative particulars.
“Get some details and I think we’re good to go,” Parks said.