Striving towards sector policing Print E-mail
News - Rubrieke
Friday, 20 June 2008 01:40

Breytie Breytenbach

We need more hands-on, visible policing in our community– a kind of “Bobby on the beat”, somebody whose name we know, who can come in for tea and listen to our gripes about crime, who knows the neighbourhood and who has authority to apply the laws. We need sector policing.

Although sector policing is the national policy of the SAPS, it is not in operation at our Boschkop Police Station. The single most important reason for this is insufficient manpower and equipment.

For the station commissioner to be able to implement sector policing, she will need to have a trained officer permanently allocated to each sector. Presently the Boschkop policing area is divided into four sectors. Each of these should have a police officer as sector manager who is supposed to work in the sector on a permanent basis, focussing on crime prevention. To be able to do the work, at least a vehicle and an office will be needed.The manager should also have an assistant, who can be a member of the reserve force living in that sector.

This adds up to at least four extra police officers with particular personality traits and training, four police vehicles, four offices and four resident reservists. A tall order, but not impossible. Our station commissioner is striving towards this goal. In the meantime, we have to get ready to implement the principles underlying sector policing.

The concept of “community policing” originated in 1970 in the state of New Jersey in the USA, when the police started doing foot patrols. They accepted that the community was the first line of defence and they had to blend in with the citizens, rather than expect the citizens to go to the police station with information and assistance.

It is important to note that the concept came from and evolved in the community. It was not thought up by an official behind a desk. Formalising the structures came later.

We should learn from this history. As a community, we must take ownership of our circumstances and organise ourselves into neighbourhood structures. It is relatively easy for about ten households in a neighbourhood to get together and start doing something about crime. Doing patrols is an effective way of letting the criminals know that it is not going to be easy to move around without being seen. Modern communication technology makes it easier for the different households to stay in touch. An SMS once a day can confirm that everybody is still okay. Codes can even be established by which messages can be sent cheaply.

The main ingredient of preventing crime is visibility. Take walks in a group or do foot patrols. Drive up and down your street before you go to bed. Have a street braai on the sidewalk. Talk to strangers passing by and inform them of your awareness. Keep a torch or spotlight handy and use it when patrolling. Help those in the neighbourhood who experience a temporary crisis.

A sector can also start a fund to eventually buy a vehicle for the sector manager to be appointed. Just remember that the sector will have to maintain the vehicle although it will have to belong to SAPS. Liability issues make this necessary.

Above all: get rid of your fear. Criminals depend on fear. For more information, contact Breytie Breytenbach at 012-802-1532.

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