CTown taps into international enforcement knowhow

Cape Town is tapping into the expertise and lessons of international counterparts on the effective use of the body and dashboard cameras it is deploying on a wider scale.

This week, the city’s Safety and Security Directorate hosted representatives of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), a non-profit association for police leaders based in Virginia, US.

In a statement, the directorate says the purpose of the engagement was to share high-level overviews of operations and the use of technology, and specific lessons learned from the use of body-worn and dashboard cameras.

“The city recognises the value of engaging with subject matter experts whenever we are considering, or embarking on a new direction,” says alderman JP Smith, mayoral committee member for safety and security.

“Body-worn cameras and dash cams are in use by many policing agencies, but fairly new in SA. The city is looking to change that, but as we embark on this journey, we thought it prudent to tap into the experience and lessons of those who are already familiar with the technology, so that we can ensure the best possible use of the tools that we’ll be acquiring.

“We have learnt much from our engagement with our peers in the US over the years, which has driven new policing strategies around gang, drug and firearm enforcement, and our specialised units as well as innovations, such as school resource officers, gunfire detection and CCTV.”

Last month, the safety and security directorate revealed its plans to accelerate its tech-driven crime fight, saying it will deploy more body and vehicle surveillance cameras this financial year.

It noted funding will be set aside for additional and replacement CCTV cameras around the city in the new financial year, as well as gunshot detection technology.

According to the directorate, it has already witnessed the benefits of dashboard-mounted devices with automated number plate recognition (ANPR) functionality for traffic services.

The ANPR-enabled devices were used during a pilot phase and have allowed for lessons to be learnt, it states.

As a result, the directorate’s budget for the 2023/24 financial year includes the procurement and deployment of 50 in-vehicle camera solutions.

In addition, the directorate will deploy 400 body-worn cameras, to enhance officer safety by increasing situational awareness and serve as a deterrent to potential perpetrators.

There will be an additional 10 fixed ANPR cameras and 20 mobile ANPR cameras. The technology will be deployed over a 12-month period and extended to the 2024/25 financial year.

“The workshop learnings will be incredibly useful in drafting our standard operating procedures for the new technology, as we prepare for the rollout, and we are very grateful to the IACP for responding so positively to our request.

“Cape Town has developed a good working relationship with international counterparts over the years and we extend our sincere appreciation to them all for the valuable contributions,” concludes Smith.

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