The City of Cape Town is expanding its rent-a-cop programme, following a recent decision by the Mayoral Committee to extend the contracts of 190 officers and approve the appointment of 21 more, taking the overall tally across the city to 211.
The rent-a-cop concept was introduced in 2008 when the City Council agreed that individuals, companies, non-governmental organisations or institutions could sponsor Law Enforcement, Metro Police and traffic officers, thus enabling the City to increase levels of visible policing without the budgetary implications.
The original pilot project in 2008 saw the deployment of four rent-a-cops to the Central City Improvement District. Seven years later, the client base has grown to include various City departments like Transport for Cape Town, 14 subcouncils, and the Mayoral Urban Regeneration Project as well as the Western Cape Human Settlements Department.
‘Our rent-a-cops enforce by-laws and other Council regulations. They focus on the issues which, if left unchecked, could potentially become bigger enforcement headaches down the line. More importantly though, they are in a position to get to know their deployment area and the issues particular to that area, which is extremely useful in terms of crime prevention. The other function is to assist Metro Police and the South African Police Service with their crime prevention and enforcement activities,’ says the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security, Alderman JP Smith.
The City/sponsor agreement allows rented officers to be redirected back into Metro Police, Law Enforcement or Traffic Services in the event of serious operational needs. Although sponsors pay the salaries of rent-a-cops, the officers report to the City of Cape Town. Sponsors can, however, request that they be deployed to cover trouble spots during problem hours.
‘The rent-a-cop scheme is a prime example of how the private and public sectors can work together to tackle crime. It is also a good way for business owners to band together and increase visible policing and safety in their immediate surroundings. I tabled the option during a recent meeting with business owners in Long Street. They expressed an interest in the programme which will hopefully help to reduce the crime rate in the area,’ says Alderman Smith.
The rent-a-cop programme is not limited to Law Enforcement only. The City’s Traffic Service provides a similar service to clients like Century City and the V&A Waterfront. It also has a memorandum of understanding with Outsurance who sponsor the intersection points men in the central business district.
‘I would like to call on corporates to consider sponsoring more rent-a-cops, specifically to do high visibility patrols at smash-and-grab hotspots along Jakes Gerwel Drive and along the N2 to protect road users from possible stone-throwing attacks. We would be able to deploy staff in safety kiosks along these routes and these could even be branded by the sponsors. Interested parties can contact my office or the City’s Chief of Law Enforcement,’ says Alderman Smith.