Police members trained on crowd management

Friday, March 28, 2014

Pretoria -  It is the duty of the police to make South Africa safe and this means police must ensure members do not contribute to, or exaggerate tensions during protests, says Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa.

Speaking at the passing out parade of crowd management course trainees at the SAPS Tshwane Training Academy, the minister said police should not generate the very violence it seeks to control during public protests.

Recently, our country has experienced a growing number of protest actions and unrest which, in some instances, has been accompanied by serious provocation, intimidation, public violence and even elements of criminality.

“The main challenge for the SAPS is to respond to these manifestations within the spirit and context of a community orientated policing model and the Bill of Rights. This requires a realistic balance between acknowledging the rights of citizens to demonstrate versus the police’s need to ensure peace and stability,” said the minister.

He said the police have focused on capacitating Public Order Policing units, working on improving the type of equipment available to Public Order Policing units and enhancing intelligence capacity.

In August 2011, the police embarked on a process to amend the Public Order Policing policy and one of the key components of the policy is to ensure that the public order policing training is constantly improved.

On Friday, the minister addressed the first recruits of the public order policing training. A total of 946 Metro police and TRT men and women spent three weeks on the training which includes learning about how the Constitution and the Bill of Rights impact on the police’s approach to crowd management.

They also received training on the legal instruments affecting crowd management with particular emphasis on the Regulation of Gathering Act, the Dangerous Weapons Act and use of force prescripts; the importance of and approaches to negotiation tactics and strategy and tactics to be used in crowd management.

The training is aligned with the training SAPS officers working at Public Order Police units receive.

Another group of SAPS and Metro Police members as well as Platoon Commanders are expected to finish their training in mid-April.

“After today’s ceremony, newly trained members will return to their units and institutions and will be able to be deployed in support of mainstream Public Order Police units when and where necessary,” said Minister Mthethwa.

He said SAPS members and Metro police were trained at the same time to ensure that the various law enforcement agencies can work together constructively during public order policing operations.

“Although command and control during joint operations will be the responsibility of the SAPS, the training of Metro police officers will assist the SAPS as a force multiplier. This programme aims to provide additional training to SAPS and Metro Police in crowd control and is part of a much broader goal of professionalizing the public order policing.

“From now on, all new SAPS members will undergo basic crowd management training as part of their basic training. We believe that this is a fundamental step in fulfilling the objectives of our policy.” – SAnews.gov.za

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