Rent-a-cop for parties

2015-12-15 06:00

Long Street business owners are banding together to make the popular night spot safer.

This as a group of about a dozen businesses are funding dedicated law enforcement officers for the street.

Randolf Jorberg, a business owner and chairperson of the Long Street Business Owners Association – which is in the process of being established, says the “rent-a-cop” officers have already brought improvements.

“It’s a big change. Already some of the hotspots have shown improvement,” he says.

“We’re looking forward to the long-term implications.”

Long Street is quite possibly the city’s most popular after-hours entertainment destination as it draws tens of thousands of people, particularly over the weekend, says Muneeb Hendricks, safety and security manager of the Cape Town Central City Improvement District (CCID).

“As you would find in many cities across the globe, areas such as these can become easily prone to opportunistic criminal activity – from pickpocketing to the selling of illegal drugs.

“The incidents that occur in Long Street are mostly bylaw contraventions which fall outside the powers of a normal security officer, such as the public safety officers deployed by the CCID,” he says.

These include drinking in public, illegal dumping and aggressive begging.

“The aim is to inculcate a culture of law abidance to the minor offences and in doing this one automatically minimises the more serious offence,” Hendricks says.

The rent-a-cop project will contribute to a visible law enforcement presence, Hendricks believes.

“Additional law enforcement will assist to up the level of visibility on street level, boosting the confidence of partygoers in terms of their safety, while at the same time making possible criminals think twice about attempting crime,” he says.

Law enforcement members also have the authority to issue fines, so they are able to regulate traffic, deal with non-compliant parkers and issue fines to sedan taxis that are not abiding by the Road Traffic Act.

They are also able to conduct stop and search operations, searching for dangerous weapons and stolen items, Hendricks explains.

Jorberg hopes that with the establishment of the association, members will commit to funding the law enforcement officers on a permanent basis.

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