Municipal Law Enforcement Officers “an embarrassment”

Municipal Law Enforcement Officers (LEO’s) are an embarrassment to the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality, according to a report to be tabled to the Municipal Public Accounts Committee (MPAC) tomorrow.

The officers lack discipline, have no regard for proper labour relations channels, fail to comply with operational procedures and their general conduct left “much to be desired.” The report also points out that 12 of the officers have criminal records and two have been suspended for the misuse of a municipal vehicle.

The LEO’s stem from the Community Anti-Crime Volunteer programme, which commenced in November 2002 with volunteers being trained as part of an ongoing skills development plan in various safety and security skills. When the plan was terminated in 2010, a number of these volunteers were absorbed into the municipality’s Security and Traffic sub directorates as LEO’s.

During 2010 the municipality embarked on a pilot project whereby contracted security services at nine of the major municipal buildings were withdrawn and LEOs were stationed at the building, with the intention of reducing the cost of providing security services at the buildings.

However, according to the MPAC report, the redeployment has been plagued with a host of negative officer behavioural and conduct issues, resulting in the questioning of the integrity, discipline and loyalty of the LEOs and their ability to maintain a risk free environment where they are deployed.

“The situation eventually deteriorated to such a level that the Director: Security subsequently had no option but to reverse the deployment in the nine major municipal buildings and reinstate the services of contracted security officers.”

“Two major breeches of security took place: in the Murray and Roberts Building, where the theft of a microwave oven by a LEO was reported and in the Lillian Diedericks Building, a theft of laptop computers took place as a direct result of the LEO’s not performing their duties properly,” reads the report.

Among the complaints against the LEOs are

  • Leaving premises without being properly relieved
  • Allowing unauthorised vehicles to enter the premises
  • Allowing unauthorised occupation of designated parking bays
  • Despite an activated fire alarm, allowing visitors on the premises
  • Failure to observe and understand the basic principles of access control
  • Lack of enthusiasm to address security shortcomings
  • Deserting designated posts
  • Failure to execute patrol duties
  • Failure to unlock and open access control points on time
  • Failure to secure keys to strategic areas
  • Failure to comply with operational procedures
  • Poor conduct when dealing with the public / visitors
  • Damage to municipal property without valid explanations
  • Absenteeism
  • Unauthorised use of computers

Currently¬† 40 LEO’s are being used to man the CCTV stations, three are assisting with administrative work, 33 are deployed to the traffic and licensing sub-directorate to assist with enforcing bylaws and 81 are deployed to high risk areas such as beaches and the Uitenhage and Dispatch CBDs, to assist with visible patrolling.

Further, despite the damning report, it is recommended that contract security services be withdrawn and the LEOs be re-deployed to fulfil the security mandate.

“From a purely cash crises perspective there seems no alternate, except to possibly discontinue security services in various localities and buildings,” reads the report.