By MADDY VITALE
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.”
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.”
The following businesses received awards during the event:
Outstanding New Business
Buddy Loves BBQ
Lisa’s Sweet Treats
Old School Burgers
Shoppes at the Asbury
Emily’s Ocean Room Café
Forum & Pavilion
Ocean City Financial Group
New Construction/ Rehab
Reich Asset Management
Best Website/ Use of Technology
The Scarborough Inn
Totally Tubular Watersports/ Aqua Park
Outstanding Service to the Community
Friends of the Ocean City Pops
Outstanding Service to the Community
Pastor Jay Reimer
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
Red’s Jersey Mex
Henry’s Landmark Jewelers