It is no secret that South Africa’s statistics remain alarmingly high. But despite the government’s recent efforts to appoint more police officers, the situation is unlikely to change without addressing the deep structural issues within the police service itself.
Every member of the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (POPCRU) plays an indispensable role in policing, but the allocation of 36,000 trained police officers to administrative tasks specifically represents a severe misallocation of resources. Yet upon promotion to senior ranks, seasoned officers are often ushered into office environments, redirecting them from their true purpose and calling – to protect and serve on the front lines of the fight against crime by policing our communities.
Removing senior police officers from active crime-fighting duties and shackling them to a desk to perform administrative tasks which could be performed by civilians is compromising our mission to maintain law and order. We must confront this issue head-on and harness the untapped potential of our highly trained officers to effectively combat crime and restore public safety.
To illustrate the magnitude of this issue, consider the vast wealth of experience and expertise that is lying dormant within our police departments. The knowledge accumulated by these trained officers through years of service is invaluable in addressing complex crime issues. Yet, by confining them to administrative duties, we squander their potential and hinder our ability to achieve a meaningful reduction in crime.
The organisational fix
The solution to this pressing issue is simple: reassign trained officers to active crime-fighting roles.
Experienced officers deeply understand criminal dynamics, investigative techniques, and legal procedures. Their expertise can significantly enhance crime-solving outcomes, leading to more successful prosecutions and a safer society. Additionally, their insights into criminal behaviour patterns can help to better identify trends and proactively prevent crimes before they occur.
These seasoned professionals can also serve as mentors and role models to younger officers. By sharing their knowledge, experience, and ethical standards, they can cultivate a culture of excellence within our ranks. And, through effective mentorship programs, we can foster the growth of capable, compassionate, and morally upright police officers.
So, by harnessing these officers’ experience, skills, and knowledge, we could see an immediate impact in the fight against crime.
Enhancing police visibility
Likewise, enhanced police visibility is undeniably crucial in the ongoing battle against crime. Increased police visibility fosters a sense of security, empowering communities and bolstering their trust in law enforcement.
So, as we diligently work towards revitalising our policing strategies, the active presence of more highly skilled officers on the ground could significantly contribute to improving public safety and deterring criminal activity.
Furthermore, it is positive to see greater investments in physical resources like vehicles and innovative technologies like drones for enhanced aerial surveillance. These investments mean that we are finally working to equip our police service with the tools necessary to be effective in their crime-fighting efforts.
Combined with placing more trained officers on the ground, this means that we could achieve a multi-dimensional crime prevention and detection approach.
A call for political will
To transform this vision into reality, I call upon our country’s leaders to demonstrate the political will to effect meaningful change. Our elected representatives must prioritise public safety and allocate resources wisely. By reallocating our trained officers back to the front lines, we will be able to deliver tangible results in the fight against crime.
The time for action is now. We cannot afford to let our highly skilled and experienced officers languish behind desks while our communities suffer. We must rally together to revitalise policing to reclaim our streets and build a stronger, safer, more resilient society.
Our nation deserves a police force that is equipped, empowered, and actively engaged in the fight against crime. By seizing the opportunity to maximise the impact of our trained officers, we can create a brighter future for all citizens.
Article written By Zizamele Cebekhulu-Makhaza, President of the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (POPCRU)