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Sweeping Industry News Bulletin

April, 2015

Boston Street Sweeper Operator Caught Drunk on the Job

This past April 24th, a Boston street sweeper operator was allegedly driving drunk – and it was all caught on tape. The incident happened in broad daylight at about 9:30 a.m. in a neighborhood full of families.

Boston Sweeper

Steven Schallmo The street sweeper operator, Steve Schallmo, is facing charges – including driving under the influence – after he knocked a fire hydrant over, which left parts of his sweeper on the street as debris, and somehow left tire marks on the ground from the sweeper. A local Boston news channel, FOX25, obtained the video that caught the entire wild ride on camera. A FOX25 news crew also rushed to the scene and also captured on video the moments police arrested 42-year-old operator.

It turns out the sweeper was being operated under contract to the City of Boston by a local-area contractor, American Sweeping. According to Fox 25 news coverage Boston's Mayor, Marty Walsh, was quoted as saying: "It's a private contractor that we bring on to help sweep the streets and we are gonna do further investigation on it. We also went to American Sweeping, the Dorchester company where we learned he works, but they declined to comment."

The comment attributed to one of the residents of the neighborhood where the damage occurred appeared to sum up sentiment there: "It's scary and I think irresponsible because they're supposed to be here to clean up the neighborhood, not destroy it," one resident said.

HydrantWitnesses said that Schallmo went around a circular park area about eight times at a high rate of speed before the sweeper he was operating jumped the curb right where a fire hydrant was located.

The sweeper allegedly knocked the hydrant off its sidewalk mount where it was left lying in the street along with a chunk of the sweeper itself. Schallmo is charged with operating under the influence and leaving the scene with property damage. FOX25 also reported that information from the Suffolk County District Attorney's office is that Schallmo is also facing other charges of assault and battery for a separate incident. Editorial Commentary: This situation underscores the difficulty that sweeping contractors face in vetting their operators over time. Although the norm is to conduct routine and/or random drug tests, those would not appear to have made a difference in this situation.

However, a pertinent question might be whether American Sweeping management were aware of Mr. Schallmo's alleged charges of assault and battery from a previous incident. The nature of these might have provided clues to what appears to be a problem of drinking on the job. Or, the charges may well have instigated the abnormal behavior Mr. Schallmo showed in this instance.

A question that might be asked of the other employees of American Sweeping is who, if anyone, knew that Schallmo was drinking on the job. And, if they knew, was the company being operated such that there was an 'open pipeline' of communication that encouraged them to come forward with the information.

People change; tragedies can occur. It is very fortunate that this instance of driving a sweeper while intoxicated didn't end in bodily damage being done to some innocent bystander. The real questions that need to be asked in situations like these are whether, in retrospect, the clues were there and just not seen – or purposefully overlooked – by company management. That's what the management team of American Sweeping needs to do now, is to take steps to keep something like this from occurring again.

Managers of other sweeping-related organizations should also use this cautionary tale to make sure they are doing all they can within their own organizations to identify aberrant behavior and take steps to correct it before damage is done to their reputations or, more seriously, to innocent people who should never be affected by something like what this story portrays.

If you have a question or comment about this article, please let us know. If appropriate, we'll add it to the bottom of this page.

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