Police running on empty

2015-08-04 06:01

A lack of officers at the Sea Point police station has seen the precinct only able to run one vehicle on some days.

A source with knowledge of the station’s functioning, estimates there is a shortage of about 15 detectives and various other posts have not been filled.

While only four years ago you would find 16 to 20 officers on duty during a shift, the station now runs with only six or eight officers per shift.

There are two vans available per sector, but there are seldom six vehicles on patrol due to a lack of staff, the source says.

Sea Point Community Police Forum chairperson Heather Tager says the organisation received a number of complaints, but staff shortages are not unique to the precinct.

“Without the necessary tools no job can be done adequately. Although there is a lack of policing on the whole, my concern is the Sea Point community, who deserve effective and proper policing,” she says.

There is a problem with the replacement of officers who have been deployed on detachment duties, as well as those who have resigned or been transferred elsewhere, Tager explains.

“The complement of detectives has dwindled drastically. Naturally this will have an extremely negative impact as tremendous pressure is put on the remaining officers. The station needs to be brought up to the level of personnel it is supposed to have,” she says.

Atlantic Neighbourhood Watch chairperson Derek Salter says stations across the province are short of staff and Sea Point is no exception.

“I am aware that this has meant fewer vehicles on the road at times and this is a concern for residents. Visible policing is vital in preventing crime and keeping our community safe. Meetings have been held with the management at the station to understand how they are trying to improve staffing and make contingency plans to ensure that the resources they have available are used most effectively,” he says.

However, Sea Point station commander Colonel Maehla Lento says the station has not received any complaints.

“We had one incident that we know of whereby we had to request backup from our neighbouring station. That is not dependent on how many vehicles we have. The determining factor is the level of threat at that time and the skill required,” he says.

“We do have vehicles supplementing one another according to threat analysis. It is not uncommon that for certain hours we have one motor vehicle from the community service centre,” he says.

In the past two weeks the community service centre has deployed a few of its members at Groote Schuur hospital for 24 hours a day, Lento explains.

“The community service centre deployment is being stretched as a result of hospital guard duties of one high-profile detainee. This situation is coming to an end. We will have our members back to the station. We are managing the situation,” he says.

Salter says: “As residents we urge the management at the Sea Point police station to do all they can to fill the vacancies and prevent any further loss of their complement to other stations. We know that the current situation is putting pressure on many of the dedicated employees remaining and we thank them for their contribution.”

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