Hun­dreds of se­nior cops to be re-en­listed

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - BIANCA CAPAZORIO

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’

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