As local governments wrestle with budget issues, Waste Management (WM) is stepping up with a fresh, creative way to help out.

Waste Management’s “WasteWatch” is a neighborhood watch program, serving as a public-private partnership between WM and the municipalities in which WM operate. This program is a value-added service that WM provides at no additional cost to municipalities.

As several counties make cuts to its sheriff departments, WM would act as another source of monitoring to crack down on lawbreakers in local communities.

Fire and emergency response teams, as well as local police, benefit from the eyes and ears of WM drivers who are patrolling local neighborhoods each and every day. 

The right information at the right time can halt or even prevent crime, reduce the extent of personal injuries or property damage, or keep a minor mishap from turning into a major catastrophe. That’s the idea behind Waste Watch.

Justin Caporusso, Communication Manager for Waste Management, said its drivers become officially trained as “WasteWatch Certified Drivers” during a two-day course and are trained to “Observe and Report” suspicious activity. 

“We have ex-FBI agents come in and really train our drivers so they can not only do this job well, but enhance their own personal safety,” stated Caporusso.

“The original intent is that our drivers are in the streets everyday and are at least on the same route once a week if not more,” Caporusso said.

Caporusso cites that Waste Management trucks can provide a stealthy watchdog service.

WM reaches out to municipalities and offers a briefing where that municipality can lay out the specifics of how WM drivers can best contact needed public safety officials in any situation.

Caporusso provided examples of how cities are asking WM drivers to help in their public safety efforts.

“The city of Folsom needed some help with identity theft and wanted us to keep an eye out for suspicious individuals looking in waste cans,” stated Caporusso. “That’s just one of many ways we can be beneficial to the community in this effort.”

The WasteWatch program has gained momentum; many are beginning to jump on board.

Laura Grossman, Crime Prevention Specialists for Sacramento County, finds the program a worthwhile venture.

“I absolutely think it would be very beneficial to the community to have these extra eyes and ears out there,” Grossman stated. “They would be trained on whom to call and know what steps to take in any situation.”

Law enforcement welcomes the assistance of the program.

“Waste Management drivers provide services in our community on a daily basis, giving them a strong familiarity with the area. We are glad to be working with them,” stated Sacramento County Sheriff, John McGiness in a release.

Elk Grove Police Spokesman, Christopher Trim, said Elk Grove is “pretty huge and WM is in and out of the city often. This program provides an opportunity for the department to get more eyes looking for crime and getting them to report that to us when needed.”

Furthermore, Trim commented on the ability for WM to help the police who currently patrol the streets.

“The more eyes you can have in an area, the easier it is for the criminals to know they’re being watched, and that’s a good thing,” Trim said. “People aren’t going to suspect the trash guy to be looking for criminal activity.”

Andrew Carico can be reached at