Margate has a new set of eyes and ears looking out for trouble in the community – garbage truck drivers.
Waste Management introduced a new program called Waste Watch, which trains garbage truck drivers to keep a lookout for anything suspicious in the communities they serve. It's a national program Waste Management started rolling out in Florida two years ago, according to Dawn McCormick, manager of community affairs for Waste Management, and it's now in Broward County.
"We've had a lot of success stories with our drivers being trained and doing the right thing," McCormick said. "It's all about observing and reporting. Our drivers are in the community day in day out, same streets and same businesses and they're very appreciative of the fact that we give them this training to help them do the right thing.
"There's always things going on people aren't aware of," Rosa said. "People in Margate are great and treat us well, so it's something we can give back to them. Since we're driving a big vehicle it's a response already [to keep our eyes open]. But it gives us something to keep in the back of our minds to check for things going on in the neighborhood."
The Broward County Sheriff's Office is grateful for the extra help. Sheriff Al Lamberti feels that the approximately 200 extra pairs of eyes on the road in the county will help reduce crime and it will really help the community.
"We've had a great partnership with Waste Management in Broward County for years," Lamberti said. "It's really been a team effort and this is going to take it to the next level. The trucks are already the same color as our cars so it's a natural fit, a natural partnership for what we're already doing. I know criminals, they see a garbage truck go by, they're not going to stop what they're doing because it's a natural part of the environment."
Joe Vidovich, director of Waste Management corporate security in Atlanta, Ga. and former Federal Bureau of Investigation agent, stressed that the drivers are not a part of the police force to do the job of law enforcement. They are being trained to keep an eye on the community but not jump into action, only report to their supervisors or the police.
"[Their job] is to observe and report, that is the key. If they do that, they're doing us all a favor and the company is encouraging them to do that. These are our times, this is our culture, and this is what's important."