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Ocean City Leaders Consider Options After Chaotic Weekend of Burnouts, Arrests

More than 100 arrests were made in Ocean City during an unofficial weekend gathering of car enthusiasts, and the town is considering all possible options to try to stop unruly behavior that comes with similar events.

An annual car event that used to be held in the Ocean City area permanently moved out of the region and began to be hosted in Atlantic City, N.J., last year. Despite the move, thousands continue to descend on Ocean City and hold their own unofficial event.

Over the weekend, drivers burned rubber on town streets, one car hit some pedestrians, and police used a kind of pepper spray to disperse a crowd after rocks and bottles were thrown at officers. All this in a resort town that bills itself as safe and family friendly.

“The majority of people that came here exhibited very reckless behavior and very little if any respect not only for our law enforcement, but our community at large,” said Jessica Waters, communications manager for the town of Ocean City.

Mayor Rick Meehan wrote on Facebook that the group placed the town, citizens and visitors “under siege and in danger,” and what took place over the weekend “can never happen again.”

The mayor said all options — including declaring a state of emergency — will be considered, and he plans to speak with Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) about the issue this week.

“Nothing is off the table in terms of exploring what our options are,” said Waters.

In expectation of the group’s arrival this year, Ocean City established a special event zone in the town from Sept. 25-29, reducing speed limits and increasing fines for violators.

A bill was signed into law last year allowing such zones to be established in Worcester County.

Waters said the town has gone to state legislators twice, asking them to provide police with more options for handling large events.

“So we will likely be back in Annapolis this year asking for help again; more tools for our police officers to use to deter the criminal activity that takes place,” Waters said.

As part of Maryland Matters’ content sharing agreement with WTOP, we feature this article from Michelle Basch. Click here for the WTOP News website.

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