Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

October 5, 2012

Picking up refuse ... and criminals

Waste Management employee honored for aiding in arrest

Bart Doan

INDIANAPOLIS — When Waste Management driver Bill Cunningham clocked in for his midnight shift that included the BMW Championship PGA Tour event a few weeks ago, he assumed it was going to be a routine night.

But while going about his business, Cunningham noticed what appeared to be two people up to no good. He notified the police department and that tip led to two arrests.

Cunningham was recently honored with a certificate and personal letter from Carmel Chief of Police Timothy Green for identifying two men who were allegedly stealing what turned out to be $1,000 worth of alcohol from one of the course chalets and notifying authorities.

Mobile police on location at the tournament were able to apprehend the men.

Green thanked Cunningham for his quick action, saying that more citizens like him are needed.

“It’s a great story,” Beth Schmucker of Waste Management said. “It was dark and he saw some tennis shoes running across the grass in the dark, so right away he knew that was an indication of something suspicious taking place.”

Schmucker said Waste Management employees are actually trained to be watchdogs of sorts on their shifts, as often, especially at night, they might be the only ones around to see nefarious acts.

“It doesn’t happen every day, but our drivers are trained because they’re out there as a good set of eyes and ears in the local community,” she said. “They’re out on these routes on a regular basis. When something is out of the ordinary, they’re a great person to tell that right away. If something doesn’t seem quite right, they’re going to see this stuff.”

Waste Management has what is called a “Waste Watch” program where they go through security and safety training, how to spot unscrupulous or criminal activity, and to actively look for things out of the ordinary. Ironically, Schmucker said Cunningham has yet to go through that training.

“It’s part of our ongoing safety training that we give them on a regular basis,” she said. “Be alert to their surroundings at all times. Pay attention and react quickly. That really comes into play when you’re having to respond a split second and that all ties in with safety. This time it worked out really well.”

Cunningham has worked for the company since 1996.