Waste Management of Illinois Inc., Galesburg, Illinois, and the city of Berwyn, Illinois, have partnered to expand a community safety program through the company’s Waste Watch Program. Waste Management (WM) is headquartered in Houston.
Waste Watch is a program in which waste collection drivers are trained to assist local police and emergency service agencies by reporting suspicious activities and potential emergency situations to law enforcement authorities.
“This program is like a neighborhood watch program, as our drivers are in these communities every day,” Vaughn Kuerschner, public sector manager for Waste Management, says. “Waste Management drivers may stop at as many as 16,000 homes a week in the city of Berwyn.”
WM's operations teams and security groups participated in training sessions with Berwyn police officials Feb. 21 to help identify what to look for on the road.
"I would like to commend the staff of Waste Management for training their employees to recognize the signs of suspicious activity and report it to the police,” Berwyn Police Chief Michael Cimaglia says. “Our officers will always be outnumbered and can't always be everywhere at all times, so we depend on the extra eyes of our residents and the good people that serve and work in this city to remain vigilant on questionable conduct and crimes in progress."
As part of the program, drivers, equipped with radios and phones, are trained on the best ways to report and communicate any potential threats to the police.
“Many of the drivers work in and drive the same streets week after week. It’s noticeable when something is out of the ordinary,” Randy Dettloff, residential driver for the city of Berwyn, says.
WM developed Waste Watch in 2004 and has seen the program expand to more than 270 communities nationwide.
“We sincerely appreciate the Berwyn police staff for taking personal interest in this program and for sharing their in-depth knowledge in law enforcement and public safety with our drivers,” Kuerschner says. “Upon completing this training, Waste Management’s drivers are now able to assist authorities if they see any activities out of the ordinary on their routes.”