The City of Westlake celebrated the commencement of its new Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office contract with the creation of patrol area District 18 on Friday, Oct. 4.
In August, the Westlake City Council approved a five-year, renewable contract at $650,000 annually with the PBSO. Developer Minto has donated land for the future location of a new District 18 substation.
The dedication at Westlake City Hall was attended by Sheriff Ric Bradshaw, other PBSO administrative officers, deputies who will staff the new patrol area and officials from Westlake.
Major Eric Coleman, commander of the Western Regional Bureau, which encompasses all areas west of State Road 7, welcomed those attending.
“We’re here to celebrate our new partnership with the City of Westlake, our newest sheriff’s office district, District 18,” Coleman said, explaining that the PBSO has a total of 20 districts, 13 of which serve municipalities. “We are very well-versed in working municipal models and working in partnership with our cities.”
Although Westlake is still in the early stages of construction, when completed, it will have about 4,500 homes and 2.2 million square feet of non-residential uses.
“It’s going to dramatically change this area,” Coleman said. “Those of us in law enforcement realize that every day brings new challenges, but we’re looking forward to working with the elected officials here, the residents, the builders, developers and the stakeholders to make sure that Westlake is a safe place to live and work for everyone.”
Mayor Roger Manning said he is excited to have the PBSO covering Westlake.
“We know that you’re going to do a great job for us, and I know from experience. I’ve lived in Lake Worth for quite some time. The sheriff’s office really cleaned up the City of Lake Worth,” Manning said. “I look forward to some more years here in Westlake. We’re kind of small right now, but we’re on a fast track.”
Lt. Craig Turner is the commander of Westlake’s new District 18, along with Loxahatchee Groves (District 17) and The Acreage (District 15). He introduced the five deputies who will be patrolling in District 18.
Col. Tony Araujo, who supervises law enforcement operations, said Westlake will resemble Wellington when built out, except that Wellington was an established community when it incorporated, and the PBSO was already the established service provider.
“This is unique; we’re in it from the beginning,” Araujo said. “We’d like to be your service provider for many years to come.”
Araujo noted that he had detailed discussions with Westlake City Manager Ken Cassel about the future of the community and what it is going to look like. They arrived at a tiered approach to law enforcement.
“I think we were very benevolent those first couple of years in providing service, and now, here we are as a contract,” Araujo said. “The commitment we made then and that we make every day that we get up, not only with the officers you’ll see in uniform, but as the sheriff will tell you, what comes behind them, is a professional, credible, timely, value-driven service. It’s the men and women, about 4,300 of us at the sheriff’s office. It’s a great big battleship, and it’s what stands behind these men and women who are going to serve your community.”
Araujo noted that the PBSO is the eighth-largest law enforcement agency in the country. “It’s not about size, it’s what you do with the size in those moments that you have the encounter with the citizen or when bad things happen,” he said.
Bradshaw said the commencement was a formalization of things that have been happening for a long time.
“We’ve got a great set of deputies out here,” Bradshaw said, referring to some of the team members who live in the western communities, one of them a longtime resident of The Acreage. “I like the fact that he knows everything that’s going on because that’s a part of having the same deputies work the same areas. You get to know the people. You get to know the bad guys and what’s going on.”
Bradshaw said he was excited to see the growth in the area.
“This is a fantastic community that’s taking shape over here,” he said. “It’s going to get bigger and better every single year… and we’ll make sure that you’re going to get the service that is demanded out here.”
Bradshaw believes that Westlake will be a safe community without much serious crime.
“That is because of the way this is about to develop and the safeguards that you’re taking ahead of time,” Bradshaw said. “I’m lucky to be associated with this organization. The best thing that ever happened to me in my 50 years of doing this work is becoming associated with the men and women who work at the PBSO. They come to work every day with one goal in mind — making sure that the people that they serve are safe.”