Among the many standout professionals who work as local first responders, the Village of Wellington annually honors the best of the best when it presents its “Top Cop” and “Top Firefighter” award.
When Wellington’s Public Safety Committee discussed the naming of this year’s award recipients, the consensus was about how hard the decision is every year because there are such good candidates nominated by officials from the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office and Palm Beach County Fire-Rescue.
This year, the honor for Top Cop went to PBSO Deputy Scott Poritz, while PBCFR Capt. Craig Dube was named Top Firefighter.
Nominated by PBSO Sgt. Andrew Porath, Poritz has been in law enforcement for 18-and-a-half years, the last 14 in Wellington.
“Poritz has become an integral part of the successful programs implemented throughout Wellington,” said Porath, who cited several programs that Poritz has started that benefit residents.
“He helped create the annual Child Safety Experience and continues to coordinate it.” said Porath, explaining that Poritz partnered with Wellington Parks & Recreation along with PBCFR and helped with fundraising to ensure that the event was free to the community. “The event has vendor booths and educational information associated with child development. The event also has an area where kids can experience the different PBSO and PBCFR vehicles. There’s also free [bicycle] helmet fitting and giveaway, along with a child car seat install station.”
Poritz also goes out of his way to help Wellington residents in need, such as aiding an elderly couple age in place when too much stuff in their garage prevented repairs to the ceiling and electrical system. He organized the removal, storage and return of the items.
Poritz also coordinated a partnership between the PBSO, PBCFR and the village with the Center for Autism & Related Disabilities on the annual Day for Autism: Building Bridges with Law Enforcement Picnic. This event seeks to deescalate any future interaction between law enforcement and people with autism by providing a foundation of positive interaction.
Poritz has also taken a lead for the last six years in the massive effort to coordinate law enforcement resource activities for the annual holiday parade in Wellington.
“Poritz has an extensive background in crime prevention in which he is a certified crime prevention practitioner for the State of Florida,” Porath said. “He also advises on the Neighborhood Watch program, which includes 23 groups in Wellington.”
Poritz has worked in road patrol, community policing and crime prevention in Wellington. He enjoys serving in the community.
“What’s not to like about Wellington? There are the residents in the Village of Wellington, the staff of the village… the good people,” he said. “All my years here have been positive experiences.”
With hobbies that are encompassed by the phrase “fatherhood,” Poritz is the proud parent of a four-year-old son.
“I worked my way into the career,” he explained.
While in college, he had several choices for a major and then took a “Policing in America” course. “It snowballed from there, and I knew that’s what I wanted to do,” he said.
Poritz finds it difficult to pinpoint one thing that he likes most about his job. “It’s hard to choose one, but I would say the ability to work with people and problem-solve,” he said.
Poritz also enjoys the coordination of the PBSO resources with the events he handles, and he noted that the agency gets a great amount of support from the Wellington Village Council and village staff with the many events he oversees.
Nominated by PBCFR Battalion Chief Ken Wooldridge, Dube has been a Palm Beach County firefighter for more than 25 years.
Assigned to Wellington, where he has been a resident for almost as many years, Dube worked as a medic and certified driver before being named to the lieutenant short list, then bypassing it to be promoted to captain.
“I have known Craig since my earliest days at fire-rescue,” Wooldridge said. “He is a good friend.”
Wooldridge described Dube as a model employee and supervisor. “He takes an active role in the lives of those he works with both on and off duty,” he said. “His crew at Station 20 has been together for quite a while and are loyal to him, citing his excellent leadership abilities and willingness to constantly improve on the basics of the job.”
Wooldridge particularly noted Dube’s humility as he works to get the job done.
“He is quiet, mild-mannered and always ready to work hard to meet the department’s goals and objectives in the areas of training, education and consistency,” Wooldridge said.
This is evidenced by his always positive attitude and willingness to respond to whatever needs to get done during the shift, whether it be a job task or helping out a fellow crew member.
“What I like most about Craig is his ability to maintain a cool head in the most challenging of emergency incidents,” Wooldridge said, adding that he has the strength and courage to make the right decision even when it might not be the most popular one. “This quality alone makes him an exceptional leader in the fire service and in the community.”
Dube is a family man with five daughters. His wife had three, including a set of twins, from a previous marriage. She and Dube have a set of twins of their own.
“It has been exciting. The youngest just turned 18 and is graduating from high school,” said Dube, who loves living in Wellington because it has such a great family environment. “It’s the place I wanted to settle down and have a family.”
His life in Wellington predates his time as a parent.
“When I moved out here, I was still single,” recalled Dube, who decided to become a firefighter in his early 20s after studying business at Palm Beach State College and working as a sales and service representative.
“I had been working out since I was 18 in a gym, and some of my workout friends we’re becoming firefighters,” said Dube, who explained that their career path got him interested in community service. “I am about five years behind those friends in my career.”
When he is not helping people, saving lives and property, Dube and his family have gotten into camping in recent years. Concentrating their trips in Florida so far, he just returned from 10 days of camping in the Keys. “We try to go to a different place each time,” he said.
Dube enjoys his ability to help those in need.
“I like the job because I like helping people, the excitement of the job, never knowing what the next call will be,” he said, explaining that it might be an elderly person who fell down or it might be a three-car pileup requiring extrication.
Dube noted that an exciting call in his line of work is also probably somebody’s worst nightmare coming true.
“We strive to have those positive outcomes. That’s why we train so much, so we can do our best every single call for any kind of emergency,” Dube said. “We try and do a good job every single time and do it right. There’s not a better job in the world.”