SARASOTA, Fla. -- A new program in Sarasota County is aiming to help clean up crime in our neighborhoods.
The program called Waste Watch is a partnership between law enforcement agencies and Waste Management workers, who will act as an extra set of eyes and ears while they're on their routes.
Waste Management employees hit the streets of Sarasota County early and move slowly street to street picking up recycling and trash. Early Wednesday morning 135 Waste Management drivers were trained to be an extra set of eyes and ears for sheriff's deputies, police, fire and emergency services.
“Having them trained by our crime prevention officers and deputies is just going to make them an effective tool for us,” said Sheriff Tom Knight. “To be able to go out and use them as eyes and ears in the community and for us to continue to be able to monitor crime and continue to mitigate crime here in Sarasota County and the quality of life we have.”
The Waste Management program is called Waste Watch and effectively makes their drivers one big neighborhood watch patrol.
“Our drivers like feeling that they've been empowered to be that extra set of eyes and ears in the community,” said Waste Management Director of Communications and Community Relations, Dawn McCormick.
Trash collector Brad Suitter said the Waste Watch Program just encourages the behavior most people do naturally. “Doing the right thing, doing what you are supposed to do. Look out for each other,” said Suitter.
His partner Daniel Santana is glad to be part of Waste Watch. “I've got kids so I would appreciate it if, I live in Charlotte and Charlotte Waste Management picks up my stuff so, I would feel better if there was a suspicious character [reported] walking around my neighborhood with my kid going to the bus stop, so I have absolutely no problem with it,” said Santana.
Waste Management have trained drivers to act as neighborhood watch patrols throughout the county and Canada but they have trained more drivers in Florida than any other state.