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 WESTVILLE COMMUNITY POLICING FORUM 
Article003
Good Cop

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Good Cop.  Acknowledgement. Nicole Johnston. M&G.

Extract from the M&G 12 October 2006.

South Africa’s police stations are a patchwork of the effective and dysfunctional.
The Mail and Guardian visited one of each kind this week and talked to the station commanders.

South Africa’s police stations are a patchwork of effective and the dysfunctional.

Supt. Odendaal’s old-fashioned courtesy and gentle air belie his track record as a tough cop who gets things done.

He shrugged of the accolade offered by a weekend newspaper, which named Sandringham precinct one of Jo'burg safest suburbs.

“What does safe mean?  One incident is one to many” he retorts dismissively. “We are not interested in sitting around patting ourselves on the back. Our goal is to achieve a crime free area, and we need to improve continuously to get there”.

This all sounds a bit pie in the sky, given the reality of life in Jo’burg but Odendaal will not entertain any “mean world” defeatism. He makes it clear that while he expects his officers to do their jobs efficiently and professionally, he also expects residents to take responsibility for their own security.

His suggestions for crime fighting range from simple precautions such as locking doors (I am stunned to hear that a fair number of robberies happen when people fall asleep watching TV with their doors open) to acting as the eyes and ears of the police and feeding them intelligence for crime busting operations. Input from the community policing forum helps the police to analyse trends and identify hot spots, so they can increase their patrols in that area and set up road blocks and observation posts to ensure that criminal outfits do not gain a foothold there.

Police failures are often blamed on lack of resources: Odendaal will have no truck with this. “Its not about how many resources you have but how you manage those resources for optimal results”

Perhaps our diet of American cop shows has created the idea that serious policing has to be all helicopters and SWAT teams, but in Sandringham the opposite is true. The strength of the precinct comes from the everyday slog and mundane activities of a network of volunteers, reservists and ordinary citizens. Vigilant grannies swiftly report broken street lamps to the council and school principles work with the station on everything from drugs to truancy. In Sandringham the fight against crime is held together by the collective will of this community, which is large and diverse. It encompasses the affluent and traditionally Jewish and Greek suburbs, which were built on the outskirts of Alexandria to house those displaced from the township.
And crime is not over once the sirens have subsided and the glass has been swept up. In fact its impact is often only really felt in the ensuing weeks and months. The station has set up an impressive victim empowerment programme to assist victims of contact crime, both short and long term.
Victim empowerment volunteer was a police reservist until she ‘got to old to jump over 6 foot walls’. She explains that the crisis intervention group consists of trained volunteers who are on standby 24/7 to attend crime scenes
 assist victims with immediate practical support such as:
contacting banks to cancel stolen credit cards or
calling a glazier to replace broken windows
Offer tips on how victims can improve their personal security. “There is so much one can do to avoid becoming a victim.” Says Ross. The victim liaison group spends the days following the crime phoning the victims and informing them of their case number and the name of the investigating officer, giving them a progress report and offering them trauma debriefing.  The trauma counsellors are volunteers with suitable qualifications – social workers – psychologists – who are also given additional training. Some of the stations police reservists are also lawyers, so they offer legal support to victims, and advise them of their rights or about legal processes.

Ross is a little bit nervous the Sandringham success will see Odendaal, whom she refers to as “ a station commander in a million” being poached. “We have some great cops in Sandringham but when ever we get someone good they get promoted to deal with a troublesome station,” she says ruefully.

Please give it some consideration.

Volunteer required to compile a list of financial organizations that will assist the victim to immediately cancel stolen or lost credit cards. This could be given to the victim by the first person from the SAPS who contacts the victim. This could be our example for a new initiative for Westville in the New Year.

Door and window repair companies.
Lock and key changing and replacements.
Our victim counselling team is up and running – however we need more volunteers to spread the load.
Distribution. WCPF EXEC and on the web pages for the public to consider.
Keep safe Neil Hannam. neilh@gfl.co.za

Article001 ] Article002 ] [ Article003 ] Article004 ] Article005 ] Article006 ] Article007 ] Article008 ] Article009 ] Article010 ] Article011 ] Article012 ] Article013 ] Article014 ] Article015 ] Article016 ] Article017 ] Article018 ] Article019 - Internet Fraud ] Article020 - Debit orders ] Article021 - From the horse's mouth ] Article022  - Highjacking tips ] Article023 - 5 Myths with Community Policing ] Article024 - Cybercrime - Keystroke Logging ] Article025 - Bullies and Bullying ] Article026 - Drugs ] Article027 - Cybercrime ] Article028 Fraudulent Banking Email ] Article029  -  Partnership in Crime Prevention ] Article030 Gated Communities ] Article031 - Identity Theft Prevention ] Article 032 Unconfirmed Rumours ] Article033 - False Alarms ] Article034 - Guard Huts ]