The 111 Nelson Mandela Bay metro police officers inducted in Greenbushes yesterday will be stationed at two precincts – in Bethelsdorp and Uitenhage.
Although they will have the power to make arrests, they will not be sent to the gang-ridden northern areas until they are fully trained for high-crime areas, according to safety and security political head John Best.
Speaking at the induction ceremony at the traffic college, Best said they would, for now, provide backup to the SA Police Service for gang-related crimes.
Their main focus would be on traffic and bylaw enforcement, and crime prevention.
“Many people have asked me this question – when are we going to send the metro police to the northern areas?” Best said.
“We are going there, but I am not going to send people who are not properly trained into those areas.
“We will provide police with backup at the moment.
“Once we are comfortable to send them to high-crime areas alone, they will go.”
The introduction of a metro police service has been in the pipeline for about eight years.
Those inducted yesterday included the 45 who qualified late last year.
Safety and security executive director Linda Mti said yesterday: “We will operate from two precincts, but it does not mean we will not focus on the entire municipality when the need arises – just as we have been doing since we started.”
Best said that as of yesterday the inducted metro officers had arresting powers.
“They were peace officers before they were inducted. Today, they are metro police and can make arrests.
“We will be working closely with the SAPS,” he said.
Metro police chief Yolande Faro declined to say how many vehicles the metro police had in total, saying only that they had adequate resources to service the city for now.
“Today, we appointed 12 sergeants and eight inspectors and the rest are constables,” she said. “The total, including myself, is 112.
“We will roll out [the metro police] precinct by precinct . . . The number [of officers] will be sufficient.”
Faro said they were expecting 12 more vehicles after the allocation on the adjustments budget.
Best said the induction of the new officers was a defining moment for the city as it had been waiting eight years to have a metro police force.
In May, former mayor Danny Jordaan paraded 78 acting metro police officers, but mayor Athol Trollip cut this number down to 14 in September after it emerged that many of them did not have a matric certificate, or had criminal records or were not keen to join the force.
Best said: “This is a great day today for these [newly inducted] youngsters . . . 67 of them did not have jobs previously.”
He said the 67 officers would be completing their final three-week course to comply with the law.
“They are all qualified traffic officers, they just need to do the metro police bridging course to be fully compliant with the act,” Best said.
The city will launch the metro police force officially on March 29.