The City of Cape Town’s Law Enforcement Department has shifted into the next phase of its Facility Protection Officer (FPO) programme, which has increased its staff complement from an initial deployment of 50 facility wardens who participated in the pilot project to a current deployment of more than 200.
The facilities protection pilot project was launched just more than a year ago with the appointment of 50 neighbourhood watch members and eight auxiliary law enforcement officers to curb vandalism and theft at 10 City facilities in Nyanga and Gugulethu.
Between January and June 2016, eight cases of vandalism and theft were reported at City facilities in the two areas, resulting in damage of nearly R800 000. A year later, with the launch of the pilot project, only three cases were reported, with damage totalling R73 800 and the recovery of the stolen items in one of the incidents.
The expansion of the programme will see the deployment of 175 facility wardens and 72 auxiliary law enforcement officers to patrol 200 facilities in areas like Lavender Hill, Mitchells Plain, Langa, Ocean View, Atlantis, Khayelitsha, Delft, Ravensmead, Strandfontein, Athlone, Nyanga and Gugulethu.
Their key responsibilities are to:
- Conduct facility inspections to check compliance with usage
- Report building defects and follow up to ensure resolution
- Conduct foot patrols and vehicle patrols to ensure staff safety
‘The City’s battle with theft and vandalism at our facilities is well documented, hence the idea to activate this initiative. We are recruiting neighbourhood watch members in good standing who already have a firm understanding of the issues in their communities, which makes policing that much easier. While the primary focus will be on safeguarding community halls, clinics and other public infrastructure, the facility protection officers are also able to assist us with other safety and security concerns and by-law transgressions,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security; and Social Services, Alderman JP Smith.
FPOs will also be used to assist with crowd control, deployment at swimming pools and other public amenities over the festive season and basic preventative lifesaving, among other duties.
‘Apart from vandalism and theft, public facilities are more frequently being targeted during protest action as witnessed in Macassar just last week. We cannot afford to stand by and allow such wanton destruction. The FPOs will also provide much-needed assistance in such instances.
The programme also has the potential to solidify our crime-fighting efforts and help build safer communities, in line with our Organisational Development and Transformation Plan. For the recruits, there is the potential of a career in law enforcement as they undergo training and build valuable experience; and of course for the City it means creating depth in our talent pool which bodes well for succession planning,’ added Alderman Smith.