Hundreds of senior cops to be re-enlisted
THE POLICE are poised to reenlist hundreds of experienced senior officers as part of a major project to beef up crimefighting in 2010, the year of Africa’s World Cup
They are also lifting the moratorium on the training of new reservists, which is expected to add thousands of new parttime officers.
In the past five years, nearly 50 000 new officers joined the service, bringing the total force to almost 200 000.
Dr Johan Burger, senior researcher at the Institute of Security Studies, said South Africa had a police to population ratio of about 2.8 police officers to every 1 000 people – on par with countries like the US.
Police are expected to start advertising positions for ex-police officers in weekend newspapers tomorrow.
National police spokesman Senior Superintendent Lindela Mashigo said that “if and when” hiring of ex-police officers started, it would be “subject to the availability of posts” and officers would need the skills necessary for the job.
It is understood the posts will be open to ex-officers under the age of 50 and the aim is to introduce them back into the posts they had previously occupied.
Burger hailed the move. “The police are planning to target ex-police officers with a good track record and get them back into the service. It’s a really good idea because they are trained, they have experience.”
DA shadow minister for safety and security Diane Kohler Barnard said “it was about time” police officers were allowed to reenlist. “There is a crying need for police personnel with experience. The ANC have gone out of their way to recruit more police officers, because there was a need for more, but when you recruit new officers they are inexperienced. We need people with experience.”
Mashigo also confirmed that a moratorium on the hiring of reservists had been lifted.
“Those who wish to enlist can go to their nearest police station and apply. They will be subject to a verification process.”
Kohler Barnard said she was glad the “idiocy has been cleared” and the moratorium on the training of new reservists lifted.
In 2006, then safety and security minister Charles Nqakula called for former police officers to return to the force, but when they responded many police officers were turned away.
The police service then announced that a 2002 policy blocking police officers from reenlisting had not changed.
The newest call, believed to be emanating from Police Commissioner Bheki Cele, is the latest development in a move to grow the numbers and experience levels of police.
In 2005 and following the winning of the World Cup bid, South Africa started to recruit and train new police officers.
In 2006 there were 156 000 officers in the country, by the end of last year there were 193 000, not far off the 2010 goal of 200 000 police. About 20 percent of these were non-operational staff, Burger said.
Police spokesman Senior Superintendent Vish Naidoo said this was part of the World Cup legacy project. About 41 000 officers will be used for World Cup operations, with 8 500 of these trained in crowd control by the French gendarmerie.
More than a quarter will be deployed in the Western Cape.
Over the past year the police have also been beefing up their public order policing unit ahead of 2010. This unit lost more than half of its officers after a 2006 restructuring saw them absorbed at station level.
A report by Burger and Bilkis Omar in the September issue of SA Crime Quarterly indicated that the number of public order police – who are tasked with crowd control, but also deal with public violence such as xenophobic attacks, strikes and protests – was expected to be about 5 600 officers by December last year. This is from a low of 2 595.
Referring to the current ratio of 2.8 police per 1 000 of the population, Burger said: “Nobody knows the ideal ratio, but internationally it’s about two per 1 000.
‘The police are planning to target ex-police officers with a good track record and get them back into the service’