The City of Cape Town and the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) recognise the need to enhance school safety. Only in a safe environment can learners become equipped to be fully-empowered participants in the economy and take control of their own destinies. It is through our partnership to achieve this goal that we are proud to introduce the 36 member strong School Resource Officer (SROs) Unit today.
“We want every child to become a useful citizen, and not useless citizen. These 36 school resource officers underscore our commitment to build a safe city and are an investment that we are making into the futures of our children. By doing our part to ensure safer access to educational opportunities, we are doing our part to give them a better chance at life,” said Mayor De Lille.
In the absence of the ideal situation where each school has a social worker, the SROs are more than just policing staff. Their roles and responsibilities include providing social support at schools.
“I am proud to have been involved in establishing this project and to have seen the initial pilot project with six schools mature into the expanded project with 36 schools we are presenting to you today. I want to thank WCED for their willingness to explore this approach and the Mayor for making the resources available. Most of all, though, I want to thank the US Department of State and the National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO),” said Alderman JP Smith.
The primary objective of the SROs is to help makes schools a safe place to learn and to build a positive relationship between policing staff and the youth in communities, with the goal of reducing crime committed by juveniles and young adults. In so doing, they work to prevent school-related violence and crime through building safety partnerships between schools and communities in which they operate, thereby actively contributing to the creation of a safe school environment and by extension, safer communities.
“It is unfortunate that we live in a society wracked by crime and violence, and an under-resourced police service. It is up to us to do what we can to provide a safe environment at our schools. I am pleased that the SROs are equipped to provide support to the participating schools, as well as their staff, learners, parent groups and the communities in which they operate as they are all affected,” said Minister Schafer.
This initiative forms part of the WCED’s Safety Management: Safe Schools Programme and is based their three-pronged strategy which is:
- Crime Control – through environmental modification
- Crime Prevention – by focusing on attitudinal or behavioural changes
- Systems programmes by focusing on systematic development, community relationships and effective partnerships.
The SROs provide law enforcement services which include access control, search and seizure as well as patrols. They are also expected to identify and address, in collaboration with the principal and safety committee, the underlying problems at schools which might lead to disorder and crime. Other responsibilities include:
- Early identification of illegal activities by youth at risk.
- Develop “safe movement corridors” in collaboration with neighbourhood watches, SAPS, Metro Police, Law Enforcement and other agencies, which allow learners to travel to and from schools safely along agreed routes.
- Work to prevent juvenile delinquency including truancy through close contact and positive relationships with learners. In addition the SRO shall develop school based crime prevention programs in collaboration with the principal and safety committee, and conduct security patrols to deter criminal or delinquent activities.
- Assist the school safety committee and administrator in emergency/disaster preparedness planning and building security matters.
- Be visible within the school community and attend and participate in school functions in a safety capacity.
- Promote the profession of police officer and be a positive role model.
- Increase the visibility and accessibility of police to the school community.
- Support the recruitment and development of youth volunteers, particularly through the Metro Police Youth Cadet programme.
The success of this program relies upon the effective communication between the City employees, the principal of each individual Department school, and other key staff members of each organisation. We look forward to working together to ensure continued progress in the future.