Policing public perception

2014-02-08 00:00

POLICE Minister Nathi Mthethwa admitted there was a “challenge” when it came to resources­ but considered it a matter of “perception” when it came to restoring public confidence in the police.

Mthethwa was talking yesterday afternoon at a press conference towards the end of a two-day meeting held at the Chief Albert­ Luthuli International Convention Centre with the top 1 500 SAPS police station commanders.

The meeting was part of the annual review and planning process aimed at improving policing.­ Mthethwa described it as a time to “take stock in terms of issues of transformation and operations”.

Mthethwa said recruitment processes were under the spotlight in order to recruit “the cadre of cop we want … the cadre of the cop who is up to the task and the dictates of the new dispensation”.

Describing the SAPS as “the only line between rule of law and disorder in the country”, Mthethwa referred to the recent violent public service protests and the role of public order policing.­

Questioned about the level of police proficiency when it came to such policing, given that three people have been killed by police in recent protests, Mthethwa said the SAPS training and capabilities were “benchmarked with the best in the world”.

He said protests took place all over the world but that those occurring in South Africa were “characterised by violence” and those taking part were “armed, and armed with dangerous weapons”.

Asked how he intended restoring public confidence in the police, Mthethwa said “anything (the police) do negatively is highlighted” and that while he acknowledged that three people had died “at the hands of the police”,­ at the same time four police officers had been killed and that this was under-reported as though it was “accepted”.

Under-reporting and perceptions were also cited when Mthethwa was questioned about public concern as to whether the police were able to do their job due to a lack of resources and manpower that had resulted in a mushrooming security industry and a rise in civil society organisations such as neighbourhood watches.

While Mthethwa ack­nowledged there was a “challenge” when it came to resour­ces, he deemed other concerns “perceptions” and said they were difficult to change “and as dangerous as reality”.

“Not all police officers are a rogue element,” Mthethwa said, adding that the “majority want to do good for society”.

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