Crime-ridden schools in the city may seen a significant improvement if a newly established unit becomes effective.
The City of Cape Town and Western Cape government jointly launched the School Resource Officer (SRO) Unit at the Cedar High School in Mitchells Plain on Thursday. Together with the United States Consul General Teddy Taylor, the Unit, comprising of thirty-six law enforcement officers have been deployed to reduce and prevent school-related violence and crime at eighteen identified “high risk” schools across the mother city.
The SRO’s have received extensive training from the United States embassy in the use of fire-arms, pepper spray & radio procedures, as well as by-law training.
According to Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security, Alderman JP Smith, the idea stems from his trips to the US in 2011 where he had attended conferences on combating crime. Smith then returned to Cape Town where he plans to roll out a list of initiatives which he believes will strengthen the City’s approach to crime.
At the launch on Thursday, Smith says the SRO’s are not only primarily focused on addressing school-related violence but also act as mentors, to connect the pupils with positive role-models.
“We are going to connect them to after hour programmes such as ice-skating, martial arts training, swimming, marching and drilling. We want to keep high-risk kids out of harm’s way,” Smith explained.
Mayor of Cape Town, Patricia De Lille further reiterated her support for the initiative. De Lille had allocated R15 million at the off-set of the idea from Alderman Smith in 2011, after his return from the US.
The officers have been deployed to schools in twelve different areas which include Nyanga, Gugulethu, Hanover Park, Bishop Lavis, Manenberg and Delft.
On the success of the SRO unit in the US, Consulate General Taylor said the officers have been equipped to provide a presence in the school to help and work with administrators and teachers to make the school safer. Taylor said that regardless of the many differences between US schools and local schools, violence remains violence. VOC