Wellington’s Public Safety Committee heard reports from the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office and Palm Beach County Fire-Rescue on Wednesday, June 24 before choosing the honorees for Wellington’s Top Cop and Top Firefighter awards for 2020.
At the start of the meeting, Michael Weil was selected as this year’s chair and Mohammad Junaid Akther as this year’s vice chair of the Public Safety Committee. The committee also includes Michael Arena, Richard Christmas, Jacqueline Hutman, Brad Johnson and Cherie McBrayer.
In the staff report, Director of Emergency Management & Public Safety Nicole Coates reported that COVID-19 cases were running at an average of 1.9 new cases per day in Wellington before the re-opening and were currently at 6.5 new cases per day. On the state level, it was 1,079 new cases per day before re-opening, increasing to a current average of 3,200 new cases per day. Coates said that relatively speaking, Wellington is not a particular COVID-19 hotspot. The concentrations of new cases in Palm Beach County are to the west and east of the village.
“We are trending in the wrong direction,” Coates said.
She added that the demographic for the average new case has decreased to 37 years old. This is presumed to be because most seniors are staying home. Coates also pointed out that the current statistics are very transparent in Wellington, as they are updated daily on the village web site.
PBSO Lt. Eli Shaivitz reported that crime is trending down despite the many challenges faced by the community. He said that COVID-19 did not seem to have any appreciable effect on the crime rate, but that the clearance rate was slightly higher.
Shaivitz discussed golf cart violations and dirt bike riding in prohibited areas. He said such violations need to be reported as they are occurring to the PBSO’s non-emergency line at (561) 688-3400. He stressed not to report such violations to the 911 emergency-only dispatch number.
PBCFR District Chief William Rowley reported that his agency was responding to calls during the COVID-19 outbreak just as they have always done. He said that they have provided mobile testing for special needs and disabled persons who are homebound.
When it came to the selection of the Top Cop and Top Firefighter for 2020, Hutman spoke for the consensus of the committee, pointing out several times that, “We have another year of very impressive candidates and difficult choices.”
After an extensive discussion and praise of the nominees, the Top Cop was selected to be PBSO Deputy Scott Poritz and the Top Firefighter is PBCFR Capt. Craig Dube.
Poritz was praised for his community policing efforts and rapport with the residents of the village. He has created and nurtured numerous on-going programs that are a benefit to the community. This includes coordinating the partnership that puts on “A Day For Autism” and taking the lead in the Wellington Holiday Parade.
Dube is a 23-year veteran of PBCFR. He has been a Wellington resident for almost as long. He is a top performer among captains and is a family man with daughters who have grown up in the village. Dube was praised for his experience, capabilities, and consistently professional work ethic and superior dedication.
Both of these professionals were commended for their accomplishments, and all of the candidates were praised for their on-going efforts for the community.