By Mary Thurwachter

Police Chief Sean Scheller shared a good report for his department with the Lantana Town Council on Dec. 12 — and council members gave him license-plate recognition cameras for squad cars.
Scheller said year-end numbers from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement — “basically our report card for the year” — showed the Police Department did very well, with crime dropping in town more than at the state or county level.
According to the FDLE, crime in Florida is down 8.3% and crime in Palm Beach County is down 10.2%.
“In Lantana, crime is down 19.9%,” said Scheller, who has been chief for 12 years. “We are performing at a very high standard and you guys are getting exemplary level police work in this town.” He said this was a team effort and thanked everyone from his staff to the Town Council and residents.
Additionally, Lantana’s clearance rate, indicating how many cases were cleared, was 24.4% compared with the county’s 23%.
“You might think this is a small number,” he said, “but it’s actually a high number when you remember that when, for example, somebody parks their bike and it’s gone, we have no suspects, no lead.”
The FDLE report was met with cheers and applause.
Later in the meeting, the council voted to spend $251,600 on license-plate recognition cameras for police cars and another $90,600 for 16 more cameras to be installed at predetermined locations around town. Cameras will be financed with federal American Rescue Plan Act funds.
“With this and in-car cameras, Big Brother’s going to be watching every move in this town,” Scheller said.
The council also agreed to spend $44,375 for a bi-directional amplifier system from Stellar Communications Group, LLC, to boost radio signal reception in the police headquarters at 901 N. Eighth St., next to the sports park.
The building had been used previously “as a jail cell for delinquents and the whole building is basically solid brick wall,” Scheller said.
The radio signal strength, measured after impact-resistant windows and doors and a metal roof had been installed, was deemed “unacceptable” with several dead zones. The dead zones prevent police staff from effectively receiving radio communication throughout the building, Scheller said.
“The continued existence of these dead zones constitutes a threat-to-officer-safety issue, qualifying this acquisition for an emergency purchase which is exempt from competitive bidding,” Scheller said. “The amplifier system will boost the signal to 100% connectivity.”
“We’ve got to keep safe the people who help keep us safe,” acting Mayor Karen Lythgoe said.
This amplifier system was not included in the budget and will be paid for with either available general fund reserve money or ARPA funds and will be included in the mid-year budget amendment, according to Town Manager Brian Raducci. The system may not meet the eligibility rules for the ARPA.

Agenda format to improve
The council approved spending $57,255 for a three-year contract with Granicus, LLC, for agenda management software.
Town Clerk Kathleen Dominguez said the software will automate and streamline the creation of public agendas and minutes, publish meeting documents online and in an ADA-accessible format, livestream and record public meetings, and provide closed captioning of meeting audio for ADA accessibility.
Dominguez said a link will be provided on the town’s website where residents can search, find and review meeting recordings, agenda packets and minutes. Citizens can also sign up to receive notifications of meetings and links to agendas when they are published.
Lantana does not have cameras to provide meeting video, but if the town decides to get them, the new software would be compatible, Dominguez said.

In other business, the council:10925321255?profile=RESIZE_180x180
-- Approved a $212,959 contract with Baxter & Woodman, Inc., for engineering services related to development of the town’s proposed comprehensive plan for water, wastewater, roadway, sea wall, and parks and recreation facilities, along with a stormwater master plan. ARPA funds will be used to finance this expense.
-- Presented the Employee of the Year Award to general maintenance worker Cesar Barrero for his “tireless efforts and dedication to the town while working in the utility division,” Lythgoe said. “Cesar always shows up where he’s needed and always has a smile on his face.”

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