In recent weeks there have been numerous reports about police officers that were attacked and killed in the line of duty. As a result of these incidents, a seminar was convened earlier this week in an attempt to ascertain the reasons for the increase in attacks perpetrated against police officials. Portfolio Committee of Police chairperson, Francois Beukman, explained that “the unnatural death of any police officer is a huge concern to the Committee.”
Beukman noted that in the past four years the country has witnessed an increase in the unnatural death of police officials.
He therefore urges that the circumstances surrounding police attacks are evaluated at a legislative level.
These deaths, Beukman explained, in many instances, are as a result of criminal attacks carried out against police officers.
“Police must be proactive in ensuring that their members are properly trained, in terms of tactical skills and equipment, to ensure that the police are made competitive when fighting crime,” Beukman noted.
Increasingly crime syndicates are improving their methods with a level of sophistication that requires constant monitoring.
As a result, Beukman asserted, police officials are more readily becoming the target of criminals, and “we must change this around.”
The factors addressed in the seminar included the risk factor of police work and the availability of resources.
The approach is to minimize risk factors. As a means to decrease risk factors, police departments are encouraged to deploy more than one police officer to petrol in particularly dangerous areas.
Beukman explained that where policing is difficult profiling of the area should be conducted.
He further notes that “resources need to be made available and police officers need to be trained regularly.”
In attendance at the seminar were representatives of; the South African Police Service Management, the Civilian Secretariat, the University of Cape Town, the Institute of Strategic Studies, Gun Free South Africa, and civil society.
The findings of the seminar will be vital to the Committee once the Police Management presents their budget to the Committee, specifically with regard to; training, intensive support for police officials and the support for the family of police officers affected by these attacks.
“The family members of those who pay the highest price, they must also be looked after properly,” Beukman explained.
The Portfolio Committee intends to interrogate these matters with the Police Management.
With regards to criminal activity of police officers, Beukman urges that regular assessments of all South African Police Service (SAPS) members be carried out.
“If community members have information that SAPS members are part of crime syndicates [then] it must be reported to the Independent Police Investigation Directorate or the Hawks,” Beukman stated.
Beukman concluded by affirming that it is essential that community members have the confidence that police officers are not beyond reproach.
VOC (Thakira Desai)