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About two dozen south suburban garbage collectors have been enlisted as Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart’s latest crime-fighting tool.

The 25 garbage collectors who work at Waste Management in Alsip are being trained to look for suspicious activity while on their routes, such as drugs in the garbage, marijuana plants rising from someone’s yard, people peering into windows and abandoned vehicles lingering on streets for days.

With the economy gripping budgets statewide, Dart said he is essentially adding officers to the streets at no cost. The partnership with Waste Management is free.

“We’re adding people with eyes and ears (already) out on the street on a regular basis to help suppress crime,” Dart said during a news conference Tuesday as garbage trucks roared to and from their depot in Alsip. “Who are you going to come across to see more of the comings and goings of the neighborhood than the people who work in waste hauling, up and down alleys, up and down blocks on a regular basis?”

Garbage collectors will only “observe and report,” said Jim Karls, a Waste Management municipal marketing manager. They will have no police power.

Source: Kristen Schorsch for the Chicago Tribune.

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