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The city of Cape Town has vehemently denied that it uses traffic fine quotas as a performance indicator for individual metro police and traffic officers.
This comes after leaked e-mails between managers at Mandela Park metro police indicated that each officer needed to bring in a minimum of 15 traffic fines a day.
The e-mails, dated January 29, were addressed to superintendents for the area and indicated minimum daily and monthly quotas that were expected from officers.
Mayoral committee member for safety and security JP Smith said Cape Town was one of the few cities in the country that did not have traffic quotas as performance indicators.
“The only indicator is a reduction in road fatalities, which we are achieving year on year. In fact, we are the only city in the country that is,” Smith said.
NOTHING WRONG IF CORRECTLY APPLIED
While insisting the city did not employ a fine quota system, Smith maintained that there was nothing wrong with quotas as a performance management tool “if correctly applied”.
He said managers of traffic and police units needed to address different road safety threats, as well as be sensitive to complaints by residents. Keeping track of the number of infringements logged (and fines issued) was a means of ensuring that road safety targets were met and complaints were attended to.
Smith explained that the targets issued in private by Mandela Park’s metro police were the direct result of a community meeting, at which residents complained that traffic violations were not being properly policed.
Yagyah Adams, a member of the city’s finance portfolio committee who alerted the Cape Argus to the leaked e-mails, said he remained “an ardent supporter” of the metro police and Smith for the “dangerous work that they did”.
“My concern is that, by having such a high quota in any specific region may result in officials concentrating more energy on attempting to reach their daily quota than a primary concern for serious law enforcement. In our society we have serious challenges such as narcotic dealing, rape, child abuse and murder,” he said.
Smith, however, gave the assurance that other indicators were equally measured by law enforcement units. These included the amount of time spent on patrol, response rate to incidents, the number of by-law infringements addressed and the number of illegal taverns inspected.
Smith said some people found certain laws inconvenient “presumably because they transgress these laws themselves”. He argued this was why people tried to bring law enforcement into disrepute - by leaking e-mails of the sort mentioned above, for instance.
“There is an attitude that the police should be policing every type of offence except that which the offender in question is committing, amounting to a constant deflection of responsibility.” - Cape Argus