School Resource Officers work hard to make the grade

24 Apr 2022 in Where We Govern

The programme, now in its 10th year, sees Law Enforcement Officers assigned to schools identified by the Western Cape Education Department. These officers deal with the day-to-day realities in schools, while working on silver linings through education, awareness and youth development programmes.

The School Resource Officer concept was piloted in six schools in September 2012 in a partnership between the City and the Western Cape Government.

The aim was to enhance school safety, and to create secure environments in which teaching and learning can take place without fear or disruption.

The United States National Association of School Resource Officers helped establish the programme, and provided training to the first intake of officers.

Since then, training has been extended to include the Child Justice Act.

Today, 36 Law Enforcement Officers are assigned to the project at various schools identified by the Western Cape Education Department.

While the programme started with officers assigned to specific schools, many operate on a rotational basis in specific areas today, and will respond to schools under threat within their immediate area of deployment.

Between January 2021 and March 2022, SROs confiscated 194 dagga joints, 66 bankies of dagga; more than 400 cigarettes and 58 weapons, including 46 knives and broke up seven fights after school.

Learners caught with contraband are taken to the principal’s office and are then subjected to the school’s internal disciplinary procedures. In more serious instances, they are escorted to the nearest police station, with a member of faculty and their parents.

‘It’s a sad reality that schools are not immune to socio-economic issues, and sometimes these do spill over into the school environment, as is evident from the confiscations. However, this is but a small part of the work that our SROs do – many days are spent resolving disputes between learners, safeguarding learners from threats outside the school perimeter, following up on truancy concerns and organising events or activities to engage learners after school.

‘Our staff also engage learners on various topics like substance abuse awareness, bullying and moral and ethical awareness. Some have also started activities like five-a-side soccer and a pool club, and then of course we have the highly successful drill team at Voorbrug Secondary, established by Inspector Darrel Smith four years ago. One of the cadets is now a student at Stellenbosch University, and credits the drill team with where he finds himself today. These are all examples of our SROs going above and beyond the call of duty and truly investing in young people,’ added Alderman Smith.

The Voorbrug Hindle Cadet programme was established in 2018, with just 13 learners.

In the nearly four years since, the group has grown to 77 who have recently also started transferring skills and experiences to other schools in the city who want to establish their own drill teams.

Their story is available here: