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EMPD officers undergo crowd management training

Faced with challenging situations such as when people involved in protests are not acting within the law, the SAPS embarked on a project to ensure that all law enforcement officers are skilled in terms of effective crowd management.

Public Order Policing members were the only ones trained in crowd management, but this is a thing of the past as all SAPS and Metro Police officers will now undergo crowd management training.

The SAPS Academy in Pretoria commenced with this intensive three-week programme in early March, and the first group recently completed the rigorous training.

One hundred and forty four EMPD officers are now well-equipped with the know-how to protect those protesting peacefully and to tackle those who are out to cause mayhem.

The officers were part of 1 000 SAPS and Metro Police officers from around the country who completed the three-week course.

“Forty-six EMPD officers formed part of the group that completed their training on April 17,” said EMPD spokesperson Chief Supt Wilfred Kgasago.

“The Minister of Police and the Commissioner of Police emphasised the importance of having each and every officer of the law trained in crowd management.”

The project is on-going.

“The greatest challenge is for law enforcers to respond to serious provocation, intimidation, sometimes with public violence and with elements of criminality,” said Minister of Police Nathi Mthethwa.

“Officers have to tackle those manifestations within the spirit and context of a community-orientated policing model and the Bill of Rights, which requires a realistic balance between acknowledging the rights of citizens to demonstrate, versus the police’s need to ensure peace and stability.”

Modules include learning about how the Constitution and the Bill of Rights impact on the police’s approach to crowd management.

The training is aligned with what SAPS officers working at Public Order Policing units receive.

The programme includes training on the legal instruments affecting crowd management, with particular emphasis on the Regulation of Gatherings Act, the Dangerous Weapons Act and use of force prescripts; the importance of and approaches to negotiation tactics and strategy and tactics to be used in crowd management.

Training of platoon commanders is also part of the programme.

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