Police Minister Bheki Cele said on Wednesday that police officers need policies that support them rather than policies that discourage them to execute their work.
He was addressing the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) Policing Indaba, in Johannesburg.
Cele, flanked by National Police Commissioner General Fannie Masemola, said that the maiden Popcru Policing Indaba is a progressive gathering that brings together various minds in and outside the law enforcement sphere.
The Minister believes that the Policing Indaba also holds the potential to create innovative ways to holistically improve policing and the lives of the men and women responsible for law enforcement.
The country was dealing with heightened levels of crime reflected in the crime statistics that Cele said was worrying to law enforcement authorities and government.
In addition, he stressed that an initiative such as the Indaba, would forever be welcomed and encouraged by his Ministry.
“I have noted the theme of this Policing Indaba ‘Building Ideal Policing and Corrections for the 21st Century’. But I must confess I am struggling with the word ‘ideal’. Policing idealism somehow suggests something unattainable or a far-fetched idea or concept. While we all want to see excellence in the police service and the country’s law enforcement, we ought to build towards a policing that is accessible, progressive, and certainly effective to and for our communities. Policing excellence is definitely within reach,” said Cele.
The Minister acknowledged that effective policing was a journey that the country had embarked on and added that his Ministry was supporting the journey through the implementation of policies to support policing.
Cele highlighted that law enforcement policies were the key foundations for an effective police department.
He added that they also served as a promise to the community that officers would respond safely and responsibly to crime.
Touching on community policing, he said government had long realised that police alone would not be able to rid communities of crime.
He said the Community Policing Policy supports the enhancement of community policing to foster collaborative, partnership-based policing.
It is envisaged that through the Community Policing Policy communities will be recognised as part of problem solving, with the aim of gaining the trust of the community and promoting community participation in the fight against crime.
Cele said it was encouraging that the Policing Indaba would also focus sharply on police technology as the Police Ministry was advocating for a major shift to smarter policing.
“While the warm bodies on the ground remain crucial in the fight against crime, if we are to beat criminal networks operating in and outside our borders, we must invest in technology,” he said.
He shared that the e-Policing Policy recognised the historical strides the police had made in modernising the force.
Cele said it also gave direction to the police to fast-track the modernisation of the organisation to improve service delivery to citizens at a station level.
He reminded the Popcru delegates that building ideal policing ultimately rested on the delivery of better and improved policing services to South Africans. Cele believes it is possible and that it will be done.