More than 100 new metro police officers will hit Cape Town’s streets over the next few months, as the department beefs up its specialised units after receiving a multimillion-rand boost this week.
This week, the City of Cape Town approved its budget for the next financial year, which begins in July.
The funds for policing will also go partly to buying more vehicles and hand-held radios for officers, as well as to the launch of the Smartcop system.
Safety and Security was allocated R1.3 billion for its operating budget and R52 million for its capital budget. Mayoral committee member for safety and security JP Smith explained that the operating budget had increased by R30m since the draft budget had been tabled earlier this year.
He estimated the department would now be able to hire around 115 new staff across all divisions.
At the moment, there are just over 600 metro police officers.
“There will be more metro police, traffic officers, law enforcement officers and firefighters. (Those sections) will receive an equal share,” said Smith.
Some of the new officers will work in the gang unit, which has made 107 arrests since its establishment in December.
More appointments are set for the drug enforcement unit, the liquor control unit and in the division dealing with “problem buildings”.
More public transport police will also be hired. These officers are currently based at transport hubs in Bellville, Philippi and at the city centre’s station deck. This service is expected to be extended to Wynberg, Mitchells Plain and Nyanga over the next few months.
Additional staff will also be hired to work in marine and environmental enforcement, handling issues along the shoreline.
More firefighters and traffic officers will also be employed. In a new project, school resource officers will be appointed to “improve safety in the most troubled schools”.
For the first time, law enforcement reservists will also be brought on boared.
Smith said in some cases officers had to share vehicles. He said additional vehicles meant more staff would be mobile and able to respond to incidents. Older vehicles were costing more money in maintenance. These would be phased out.
Hand-held radios will be bought, which would address a major shortage. “We can catch up on the backlog, where some staff were not connected to dispatch,” said Smith.
The Smartcop system will also start operating later this year.
“Our traffic vehicles will be the first of any city to sport dashboard cameras to help make our roads safer. These types of smart policing interventions allow us to do more with less and drive intelligent policing,” Smith added.