Environmental services worker Zbigniew Sikorski was doing his job when he became the inspiration for the Largo Police Department's latest crime-fighting tool.
A few months ago, he was cleaning a sewer pumping station on Georgianna Street when he saw two men running out of a BP gas station on nearby Indian Rocks Road.
As Sikorski headed to his truck to switch hoses on a pressure gun, the men raced past him, just a few feet from his truck. One of them waved at a third man in a Chevy Silverado pickup parked several hundred feet down Georgianna Street. The Silverado rolled up, picked up both men and drove down a side street.
A few minutes later, after police responded to an armed robbery at the gas station, Sikorski approached an officer and told her what he saw. He provided such detail that the suspects were apprehended, Largo Police Chief Lester Aradi said.
Sikorski, who was honored by the city in late May, inspired the chief to take advantage of a new crime fighting tool: city workers.
He implemented a weekly crime bulletin, especially for city employees, so they can help solve crimes and keep the community safe.
"We're always asking people to notify us, but we're not doing our part by sharing what we know with them," Aradi said.
Workers like Sikorski are constantly out in the community, Aradi said.
"We should be sending them information and we should tap into their wisdom and their street sense," Aradi said.
The weekly bulletins, which began this month, are sent electronically to all city workers. They include crime patterns, pin maps of crime trends and mug shots of people arrested on suspicion of various crimes.
"We want our parks and recreation people to know who the bad people are. The same for our library workers," Aradi said.
Sikorski was pleased to hear he inspired the new program. He had to help out, he said.
"Who knows, maybe tomorrow it could happen to me, my wife or others," said Sikorski, 45.
Irvin Kety, who heads the environmental services department, said Sikorski "did exactly what public servants are supposed to do: step up, speak out."
Lorri Helfand can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 445-4155.