Former Ocean City Police Chief Prettyman is “Citizen of the Year”

Former Ocean City Police Chief Prettyman is “Citizen of the Year”

Mayor Jay Gillian speaks of Police Chief Jay Prettyman's accomplishments as he and his wife, Tiffany, listen. Chamber President Bill McMahon looks on.


Recently retired Ocean City Police Chief Jay Prettyman, who helped guide the department and community through public safety challenges during the pandemic and was instrumental in a strategy to contain rowdy teens, received recognition for all of his hard work.

The Ocean City Regional Chamber of Commerce honored Prettyman with the “2023 Citizen of the Year” award during a dinner at the Flanders Hotel on Wednesday. In addition to his honor, the program included the “Outstanding Business and Beautification” awards.

Prettyman was awarded Citizen of the Year for his “extensive service to the citizens and children of Ocean City,” Chamber officials said, noting his “many volunteer and philanthropic organizations, as well as social and religious organizations.”

Ocean City Regional Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Michele Gillian says the success of the community is due in part because of businesses that have been in the resort for generations.

During the ceremony, Mayor Jay Gillian remarked about all of Prettyman’s contributions to the community.

“We are here to honor not just a great police officer, but a true community servant,” Gillian said. “Jay always went above and beyond to make sure his department was doing the best for the community.”

Gillian spoke of the work Prettyman did as chief and what type of person he was in his official duty to the community.

“All he did was for the good of Ocean City in mind and that wasn’t always the easiest path,” Gillian said, pointing out that it was difficult during the pandemic and the rowdy teen incidents.

But despite some difficult times, Prettyman “treated everybody with respect,” the mayor said.

Former Police Chief Jay Prettyman says he is honored that the mayor chose him to be chief.

Prettyman, who appeared humbled by the remarks, thanked the mayor.

“Mayor, thank you for believing in me and giving me the job as the police chief,” he said. “I used to think there wasn’t anyone who loved Ocean City more than me, until I started to work for Mayor Gillian. We did some really great things together.”

He also thanked his wife, Tiffany, for all of her support and the wonderful life they built in the resort over 35 years with their two daughters, Phoebe, 25, and 21-year-old Chloe.

He said he is “extremely honored to be chosen for the award,” but that he alone does not deserve it.

“Please understand that instead of seeing this as an individual accolade, I feel this award is more a recognition of the collaboration of many individuals that have worked together to make Ocean City great,” he said. “No one person can or deserves to receive this award alone.”

More than 260 attendees fill the Flanders Hotel for the event.

In addition to Mayor Gillian, Cape May County Surrogate E. Marie Hayes, who, like Prettyman, is also a retired law enforcement officer with an illustrious career, presented a proclamation to Prettyman, noting all of his accomplishments and his hard work in keeping the community safe.

Prettyman retired in October from the police department after serving as police chief since February 2019, and acting chief the year before that, during a 32-year career in law enforcement.

He began his law enforcement career as a summer police officer in Ocean City in 1992 and 1993.

He worked as an officer in Haddon Heights, Camden County, from 1993 to 1995 before joining the Ocean City Police Department as a full-time patrolman in September 1995.

Plaques highlighting the accomplishments of resort businesses fill a table.

Prettyman worked his way through the ranks in the Ocean City Police Department, becoming a sergeant, lieutenant, detective lieutenant and then captain in 2008. He served as acting police chief for a year before his full appointment as chief in 2019.

When he retired, fellow law enforcement veteran, Ocean City Deputy Police Chief Bill Campbell became the new chief, with high praise from Prettyman.

“The place is in good hands with Bill,” Prettyman, 52, said in an October interview about his successor.

Throughout the evening, business owners were called up to the stage to receive plaques for their accomplishments.

Ocean City Beach Patrol Deputy Chief Holly Lesser accepts a plaque in honor of the patrol’s 125 years of service.

Michele Gillian, executive director of the Ocean City Regional Chamber of Commerce, noted that the 260 attendees were responsible for all the good Ocean City is today.

“There are a lot of really good people who made Ocean City what it is today,” she said as she looked around the room. “There are generations of families that are continuing businesses and this is what Ocean City is all about.”

Gillian noted that Ocean City is a place that “everyone wants to live in because of every single person in this room.”

Pastor Jay Reimer accepts an award on behalf of the Ocean City Tabernacle.
From left, Councilman Terry Crowley, CFO Frank Donato and his wife, Kelly.
Attendees are all smiles.
From left, Councilmen Dave Winslow and Tony Polcini and Director of Community Services Dan Kelchner enjoy the night.

The following businesses received awards during the event:

Outstanding New Business

Ashore Fit

Buddy Loves BBQ

Lisa’s Sweet Treats

Old School Burgers

Business Renovation/Improvement

Shoppes at the Asbury

Emily’s Ocean Room Café

Forum & Pavilion

Pavilion Apartments

Outstanding Landscaping/Signage

Landmark Church

Agape Gourmet

Dry Island

Ocean City Financial Group

New Construction

White Lotus

Pete’s Mercantile

New Construction/ Rehab

Reich Asset Management

Best Website/ Use of Technology

The Scarborough Inn

Totally Tubular Watersports/ Aqua Park

Outstanding Service to the Community

Non-Profit Organization

Friends of the Ocean City Pops

Outstanding Service to the Community

Pastor Jay Reimer

Anniversary Recognition

Ocean City Beach Patrol – 125 Years

Shriver’s Saltwater Taffy & Fudge – 125 years

Shoemaker Lumber – 120 years

Ocean City Fishing Club – 110 years

The Flanders Hotel – 100 years

Ocean City Exchange Club – 75 years

Bert’s Beach Rentals – 75 years

George’s Ice Cream – 70 years

Ocean City Historical Museum – 60 years

Ocean City Humane Society – 60 years

Original Fudge Kitchen – 50 years

Kessel’s Korner- 50 years

Osborne’s Inn – 50 years

Halliday & Leonard Construction – 45 years

Surf Mall – 40 years

Ocean City Parasail – 30 years

Ocean City Mansion- 20 years

Halliday Architects – 10 years

We Make It Personal – 10 years

JASM Consulting- 10 years

Cape May County – 330 years

Special Recognition

Red’s Jersey Mex

Henry’s Landmark Jewelers