PBSO: Crime Lower In Wellington During 2020

Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Rolando Silva visited the Wellington Village Council meeting Tuesday, June 22 to present the PBSO’s annual report for Wellington.

“The pandemic impacted all the numbers in many ways,” said Silva, commander of PBSO District 8, which covers Wellington. “We met our performance metrics. Case numbers were down some 14 percent, down on property crime almost 25 percent, crashes down 23 percent. COVID-19 also impacted the way that we did our business.”

He noted that both arrests and traffic stops were down. There was an uptick in robberies because one case yielded four arrests, but the clearance rate improved.

Silva said that in 2021, Operation Bent Metal went into effect with the objective of maintaining lower crash rates. It has already been recognized by the state for an award.

“In comparison to other cities of similar size, we have fewer residential burglaries and robberies,” he explained. “In vehicle burglaries, we are down at the bottom.”

He attributed the drop in car burglaries to an outreach program of getting more people to lock their cars. “Also, we put some key people in jail,” Silva said. “The license plate reader (LPR) program is known among criminals that if they come in here, they’re going to get caught.”

Mayor Anne Gerwig added that the outreach program is teaching that, “It’s safer and easier if you lock everything up.”

Councilman Michael Napoleone said that among peer communities, Wellington rates are among the lowest. “Everyone had lower, but ours are still lower than theirs,” he said.

The LPR system continues to monitor residents and visitors in the village and has closed crimes from other communities.

“When you guys invested in the license plate reader, it was more than $600,000, and I said you are going to be the heroes in this [with] the lower numbers,” Silva said. “With the vehicle burglaries, it has got to be the LPR system. I really believe that. Thank you for investing in that and giving us that tool to use.”

Statistically, rapes increased by 21 percent, but that amounted to a total of three additional cases. They were reported in 2020 but had occurred in previous years.

An interesting manifestation of the 2020 quarantine due to the pandemic was that complaints against neighbors increased.

“We always work together the best we can to try and keep the village as safe as we can,” Silva said at the end of his report. “I think that together, we’re doing a pretty good job.”

Vice Mayor John McGovern thanked the PBSO for its hard work.

“I want to commend you and your team, who have been with us this entire year,” McGovern told Silva. “Your folks have been there every step of the way, and I want to thank our friends from Palm Beach County Fire-Rescue as well who have been there for us. These numbers are very, very good.

In other business, the final two elements of Wellington’s revised comprehensive plan were repealed and replaced with new versions. The Conservation Element was replaced with the Conservation, Sustainability & Resiliency Element, and the Open Spaces/Recreation Element was replaced with the Parks & Recreation Element. There was no public comment and little council discussion. Both measures passed unanimously.