Coral Gables police will have a new set of eyes and ears on city streets after partnering with Waste Management and its Waste Watch program.
Some of the same fleet of trash haulers that ride through the streets and alleyways in the city will also keep a sharp eye out for suspicious activity and report it to authorities.
Waste Watch trains drivers on what signs to look for and how to respond in emergency situations. They’ve partnered with several counties across Florida, including Collier, Manatee, Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade.
“The program really doesn’t work unless there’s this partnership between Waste Management and the law enforcement in the community,” said Allen Mitchell, the company’s director of corporate security.
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The program is free for the city and Police Chief Ed Hudak said he believes the partnership will have a significant impact in combating crime.
“I do believe that this program is going to save someone’s life, get us there faster and really overall increase the quality of life for people living in Coral Gables, passing through or working in the area,” Hudak said.
The city has had a series of robberies and attempted robberies of businesses and stores in recent weeks and dealt with residential crime issues in 2014. According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, overall crime in Coral Gables was down about 20 percent in the first six months of 2015, compared with the same period in 2014.
“If I could prevent every crime in Coral Gables that would be my ultimate goal and I think this is a step in that direction,” Hudak said.
And for former driver Shawn Chandler, now residential route manager for Waste Management, it’s a rewarding experience to impact the people living in the houses that trash haulers pass nearly every day.
“We’re not telling them to be police officers, just to make the call. It’s an empowerment for the drivers and it comes out well for the community,” Chander said.
“We’ve got to pick up the trash anyway.”