Grime & Punishment

Denver-are police now have another set of eyes patrolling the city's neighborhoods. There, Waste Management has instituted a program called Waste Watch, which trains the company's drivers to be better witnesses and to aid police by reporting suspicious activities.

Instead of focusing on fires and other commonly reported incidents, Waste Watch seeks to identify more covert criminal activities. “They'll be looking for a vehicle that may be out of place or something that just doesn't look right,” says Charles Bayley, vice president of public affairs for Waste Management's Midwest region.

Denver-area drivers began training with corporate security officials in March. The training has been incorporated into the normal morning meetings attended by all drivers.

Kris Spilsbury, security director for Waste Management's western group, says drivers will receive forms that will help them report specific details, such as license plate numbers, that would be most likely to aid the police.

“Drivers make good potential witnesses because they're out on their routes at all hours of the day,” he says. “They drive at slower than normal speeds that allow them to get better views of suspicious activity. Some drivers have been on the same route for 15 years and can easily determine what's out of the norm.”

Local police also are excited about the program. “It's an enormous benefit to the police department and the community,” says Trevor Materasso, an investigator for the Westminster, Colo., Police Department. “It'll at least give us better leads to follow up on.”

The Denver program expands on a 1989 pilot program with more interaction with police. Bayley says the firm also hopes to expand the Waste Watch program it commissioned in Wisconsin last year.