More cities enlist sanitation workers to assist with law enforcement
- The national trend of training collection crews to work with local law enforcement officials and share observations from their routes is continuing with two new programs.
- In Spokane, WA, city workers were recently given a training on what to look out for during their shifts and how to report issues to police dispatchers for further investigation, as reported by KXLY.
- Police in Kansas City, KS recently trained workers from Waste Management subsidiary Deffenbaugh Industries on similar skills. More than 200 workers received the Waste Watch training, as reported by KSHB.
Collection crews are well-attuned to the neighborhoods they often serve on a weekly basis and are seen as valuable assets for reporting stolen vehicles, suspicious activity or other incidents. Law enforcement officials have given workers similar training in New Mexico, California, Virginia and other states with support from some of the industry's largest companies. The concept of installing license plate reading technology on trucks has also been proposed in the past.
In addition to spotting criminal activity, collection crews are sometimes the first to respond to people in need. Multiple workers saved lives with CPR last year, and stories of workers becoming part of the communities they serve by befriending children or other customers are also common.
Asking more from employees who are already doing one of the most dangerous jobs in the country may seem counterintuitive at first, but companies and local governments have likely seen success if these programs continue to expand. While workers aren't expected to disrupt their work or put themselves at risk, their vigilance can still play a useful role in keeping communities safe.
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