Knives, sharpened pencils and cigarettes are being confiscated from learners at a Manenberg high school following the appointment of a Metro Police officer permanently on duty at the premises.
The Metro Police officer is one of six officers trained as School Resource Officers each deployed to six schools in a school safety pilot programme based on model adopted in the United States and focussing on schools in violence-plagued areas.
Their duties include access control, search and seizure and patrols, said City of Cape Town Safety and Security manager for strategic and operational support, Anton Visser.
Additionally the SRO will ensure the investigation of alleged criminal incidents by working closely with the South African Police Service (SAPS).
“They (SRO’s) will identify and address, in collaboration with the principal and safety committee, the underlying problems at schools which might lead to disorder and crime,” said Visser.
He said the pilot project is based on a US concept which is widely implemented in schools throughout that country.
Under the US concept, Visser said six experienced Metro Police had undergone specialist training from the US based National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO) and were now qualified SRO’s.
He said Mayco member for Safety and Security, Jean Pierre Smith had seen the concept in the US when he visited a number of police departments there over a year ago.
The Cape Town safety and security directorate then decided that it was “indeed something that could be delivered by our Metro Police and that the concept had the potential for significantly impacting on safety of a school and surrounding community”.
The pilot project, which started on the first day of school this year, is being conducted at Lotus River High, Bishop Lavis High, Sizimisele High in Khayelitsha, Oscar Mpetha High in Nyanga and Phoenix High in Manenberg.
If proven successful the US concept being piloted would be replicated at other schools in the City, said Visser.
Meanwhile some of the benefiting schools have already reported tremendous improvement in safety and security at their school.
Phoenix High principal Shafiek Abrahams said security had improved “tremendously” with the result that learner sand teachers felt much safer.
In the past the school has borne the brunt of a lot of gang activity but seemed to be more in control since school started on January 16 this year.
Abrahams the SRO conducted searches at the school on a daily basis and confiscated knives, sharpened pencils and cigarettes.
“We felt unsafe previously as people could just walk in and out of our school but now it has stopped,” he said.
Lotus River High deputy principal Cedric Lynch also said they had noticed an improvement in security since an SRO took charge.
“We’re very happy and impressed. The officer is on duty all the time. There are no more trespassers,” said Lynch. — Peter Luhanga