Tampa, Florida -- As Waste Management's 85-plus trucks trundled out into Hillsborough County on Tuesday, the drivers inside were haulin' some new knowledge.
A company security chief with 25 years of FBI experience led early-morning training session in "Waste Watch."
TheWaste Watch program shows drivers how to spot and report suspicious activity along their routes, turning trash trucks into a roving neighborhood watch team -- just in time for the Republican National Conventionin August.
"We just felt that it's our responsibility to do this. It's the right thing to do," said Joe Vidovich, Waste Management's security leader for its southern region.
A video shown in a training room at the company's East Tampa facility taught a ton of knowledge -- like the types of places terrorists tend to target, and how to get a good description of someone, even if you just catch a glimpse.
The program is tailored to take advantage of garbage truck drivers' slow movement and odd hours. That combination puts them in places other people just don't go.
"We're providing police something that needs to be done. They can't be everywhere," Vidovich said. "We help fill the void by acting as eyes and ears."
Drivers are on the lookout for obvious emergencies and also suspicious stuff: signs of terrorism, or protestors who want to cause damage.
But you won't see anybody making confrontations or citizen's arrests. They're trained to observe, report, and rely on the professional work of the police to follow up.
Long after the GOP Convention has left the Tampa Bay Times Forum, our community will still benefit from this training.
Other Waste Management drivers who have completed this training in other cities have gone on to stop crimes and even save lives.