Wellington OKs Purchase Of Upgraded License Plate Readers

Wellington and Palm Beach County School District officials flank honorees retiring Band Director Mary Oser, Dwyer Award winner Janell Leatherman, and Pathfinder Award winners Johnathon Bucknor and Emilia McGovern. Photos courtesy the Village of Wellington

Wellington is replacing cameras that read license plates within its borders, getting 17 new ones touted as being able not just to make out the plates but quickly flag vehicles by make, model, color, and even details such as roof racks and bumper stickers.

Meeting Tuesday, June 11, the Wellington Village Council unanimously approved a sole source contract to Flock Group Inc., doing business as Flock Safety, on its consent agenda for the purchase, delivery, installation and annual maintenance of license plate recognition cameras and software. The two-year deal will cost the village $129,550.

“These are replacing the current ones or are these additional to them?” Councilwoman Tanya Siskind asked at a workshop a day before the meeting.

“These are replacing the existing ones,” Village Manager Jim Barnes confirmed.

Village staff and partner agencies believe that this purchase represents the latest technology. For example, operators can instruct the system to look out for a white Lexus with stickers on the bumper. If it works as the system’s creators say it can, it would use software to spit out matches for any vehicles it sees that fall within those parameters.

The point is to pick out cars connected to suspected crimes within the community, or help track down drivers passing through who may be wanted for offenses in other places.

Wellington has had license plate readers for about half a dozen years. The village partners with the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office to provide police services under contract, and the PBSO advised that they were moving to the Flock system for future purchases. At this point, Flock reportedly has cameras in 54 of the 67 counties in Florida.

In a letter posted in village records, Flock Safety CEO Garrett Langley said that the system can help identify vehicles with paper license plates or even no plates at all. It offers cameras that can capture images of up to 30,000 vehicles each per day, according to a letter from the Atlanta-based company.

Vice Mayor John McGovern asked how quickly the new cameras will be up and running.

Village staff members said it might take four to six weeks to order the latest cameras, and they can begin replacing existing ones at that point.

“Let’s get them working,” Mayor Michael Napoleone said.

In other business:

  • The council recognized teacher Mary Oser, who recently retired as the band director at Wellington High School after 33 years. Members of the band played a tribute medley for her in the council chambers.

The council also honored Janell Leatherman, the seventh-grade counselor at Emerald Cove Middle School, for winning the 2024 Dwyer Award in the category of Student Advancement and Career Education, among other distinctions.

Two graduating seniors from Wellington High School won recognition as Pathfinder scholarship award recipients. Emilia McGovern, daughter of the vice mayor, won first place in the Business category, while Johnathon Bucknor won second place in the Theater Arts category.

  • The council approved modified regulations for residential hedges along major thoroughfares. Among these, the hedge height can now range from six feet to eight feet, a change from a uniform eight feet under a 2021 ordinance. In part, this makes it easier for people who maintain their own hedges to reach all parts of the shrubbery. In addition, the village created exceptions for allowable kinds of hedge plants beyond a narrowed five types under the 2021 code, if an existing hedge is well-maintained.
  • The council unanimously passed an ordinance change made possible by a new state law that allows publication of required legal notices and advertisements on a Palm Beach County-run web site as opposed to a general-circulation newspaper. Residents can sign up for e-mail notifications about such notices.