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Pretoria - Residents and businesses can expect to feel a little safer now that the metro police have added 2 200 new recruits to make it the largest metro force in the country.
But that depends on these new men and women in blue being deployed where they will be visible, a security expert said.
Mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa on Thursday said the increased number of officers would result in a safer city and improve residents’ quality of life.
The city currently has 3 200 operational metro police officers.
“We’ve taken a decision to extend our metro police force to realise the commitments made in 2011 to creating decent job opportunities, expanding services to the people and creating a safer city. We adopted a ward-based deployment strategy to have 10 operational metro police members per shift per ward for all 105 wards in the city.
“This approach will ensure that members work closely with their communities,” said Ramokgopa.
Metro police are responsible for crime prevention, by-law enforcement and road traffic management.
Their increased capacity will make more officers available for traffic control, roadblocks and sting operations. Ramokgopa said more officers will mean increased police visibility on city streets.
Johan Burger of the Institute of Security Studies said increased police visibility will bring an increased feeling of safety to the public.
“Around the world, police services strive for increased police visibility because it scares off criminals and people feel safer when they see more officers,” Burger said.
At Pilditch Stadium on Thursday, recruits dressed in uniform were sent off by Ramokgopa to the training college. The mayor was accompanied by mayoral committee member for community safety Terence Mashego and head of the metro police Steven Ngobeni.
The recruits started their 18-month training at the Metro Police Academy in the west of Pretoria on December 1 after applying for 1 000 positions last January.
The number of available positions was later increased to 2 200.
They faced a gruelling selection process that tested them mentally and physically.
“We want to congratulate you on making it out of more than 100 000 applications. There is something special about you,” Ramokgopa told the recruits.
The increased intake of metro police officers was part of a plan to provide “decent employment opportunities” in the city, he said.
“We are going to train you to protect the people of the city,” said Mashego.
Mulalo Siphoro, 21, from Sunnyside, said she felt blessed to have made it this far.
“I’m going to work hard and I don’t only want to be a constable. Maybe one day I’ll be chief,” she said.
It is expected that about 10 percent of the new recruits will not complete their training.
Kedibone Sepuru, 23, had applied to become a trainee every year since 2010. This was the first time his application was successful.
“I look forward to learning and achieving a lot,” he said.
The send-off ceremony was held in the heat of the day and scores of trainees fainted and had to be treated by Tshwane emergency services personnel.
Metro Police spokesman Isaac Mahamba said there will be a quicker response time, higher visibility and officers will know their area and communities better.
“Law enforcement will be easier.”