For the past five years, Metro Police’s management have been outsourcing training from leading countries in crime intelligence to better equip local officials with the skills needed to combat drugs and gangsterism on the Cape Flats. Now, the United States’ investment into the local Gang and Drug task teams has culminated into an advanced drug agent course in Gabarone, Botswana where eight members of the city’s safety and security directorate will attend. The entire course will be led by the US’s Drug Enforcement Administration.
According to the City of Cape Town’s Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security, JP Smith, while gangsterism on the Cape Flats, much like other gang infested areas in the world, can never be completely eradicated, the main focus is ensuring that those syndicate groups do the least harm possible onto society.
“We have turned to everywhere in the world that we can find partners, to expose us to their best practises. The exposure we have had in recent days focuses on the school resources offices on one side and more hardened training on combating gangsterism,” Smith explained.
However, the training received by local officials cover a number of prospective areas of improvement such as interrogation techniques, school resource offices, skills for middle management, strategic leadership training for senior management and many others. Countries such as the Netherlands, United Kingdom, India and many others offered assistance in respective areas which Smith says needed development.
Before 2006, the Metro Police Unit had not been effectively fighting gangsterism and drugs on the Cape Flats. Since then, Smith and his team have been at the forefront offinding new ways that the department can improve their level of crime intelligence.
“For a period of time, we were losing many of our guys during stop and go procedures. Situations where police officials would pull over an illegal car and are met with open fire or an attack,” Smith said.
However, due to the recent assistance from the international crime fighting community, those numbers have decreased. With the help of skills development from other countries, the task teams are able to improve their overall approach to addressing various life threatening situations which they are often met with on the field.
The latest course in Botswana, which includes the participation of other African countries as well will take place from the 26th – 30th January 2015. Topics such as clandestine laboratories, and managing undercover operations will also be discussed during the course. Over the last four years, the city’s safety and security directorate had received extensive training from the US’ Drug Enforcement Administration.
While Smith said that it will take years for local officials to be on par with leading crime intelligence organisations such as the Federal Bureau Investigations and such, realistically, the Metro unit hopes to reach a point where local gangs are able to do the least harm on the community as possible.
“Right now, our gangs are out of control. We want to get to a point where gangs do not control communities completely, where police corruption is controlled. We are sitting with a gang conviction rate of two percent or just over. That will not change until the criminal justice system is changed by the national government.” Smith said. VOC (Ra’eesah Isaacs)