Council Corner Action on sober homes, update on public safety

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By: Councilman Scott Singer Special to the Boca Newspaper
On July 14, the Sober Homes Task Force, led by State Attorney Dave Aronberg, held its first of a year-long series of meetings, and I am honored to have been selected as Boca Raton’s representative to this panel of elected officials, prosecutors, medical representatives, and other community leaders.  The legislature created the Task Force was Legislature to address statewide problems with the growing epidemic of drug addiction and deaths.  Unfortunately, no place has been affected more than Palm Beach County, with thousands of sober homes, ranging from qualified residential recovery centers to shadier “flophouses” that can cram up to 20 people in recovery into a single house.
The panel will provide recommendations at the end of the year, and our first meeting focused on four areas to encourage better practices and discourage bad operators from taking advantage of those who need help the most and neighborhoods dotted by these facilities.  As discussed in last month’s issue, federal efforts in this area have been so far ineffective and the state’s legislation on voluntary registration has had few takers.  I look forward to developing recommendations for changing in the law to reduce unscrupulous marketing and brokering of patients.  This local problem may find a statewide solution coming from those in Boca Raton, Delray Beach, and the rest of Palm Beach County.
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As I write this, reports are coming on the most recent terrorist mass murder in Nice, France.  The recent rise in these sickening attacks, both at home and abroad, remind us of how grateful we should be for the outstanding work of the Boca Raton Police Department.  Since the Pulse shootings in Orlando, Boca Police has worked to increase its ability to respond to multiple events at the same time.  Let us pray that we never need it, but be thankful for the preparedness.  The city’s police department is an active participant with the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force and maintains constant communications about potential threats to better maintain our residents’ safety.
The efforts of our brave and resourceful police personnel continue to pay off.  Overall, the number of crimes has decreased by more than 18% from 2010, when our figures were already among the lowest in the nation, to 2015, where we continue to be one of the safest cities anywhere.  Our rate of crime is at our lowest levels since the 1970s.
Boca Raton’s Fire Rescue Department also deserves praise everyday, and recently won a high honor.  In June, Boca Fire received the highest grade in public protection from the national advisory board, ISO, which put us in the top 0.4% for all fire departments nationwide! Of the 47,000 fire districts in the country, Boca was one of only 178 to receive this Class 1 rating.
In the last six years, Boca paramedics have successfully revived while on scene more than 180 people who were experiencing cardiac arrest.  The impact is not limited to only the 180 who had better outcomes, but also to the thousands of others who are grateful for the health of their loved ones and neighbors.
With police personnel also the victims of terrorism recently, and the dangers faced everyday by police and fire rescue personnel, we have all the more reason to show support for the outstanding men and women who keep Boca Raton safe.