Western Cape Police Oversight and Community Safety on LEAP officers combatting crime

Western Cape LEAP officers effectively trained to combat crime

In September 2019, the Western Cape Government (WCG) launched its Western Cape Safety Plan (WCSP) to aggressively counter the continued increases in the murder rate across the province. The WCSP’s primary aim is to reduce the murder rate by 50% by 2029. To implement this plan, the Law Enforcement Advancement Plan (LEAP) officers were introduced in 2020. LEAP is an initiative of the Western Cape Government (WCG) and is run in partnership with the City of Cape Town.

These officers have demonstrated how impactful they are in combatting crime. Since inception up until 2 April 2023, LEAP officers have confiscated 343 firearms and arrested 15 742 persons for various offences. The confiscation of illegal firearms is critical. During the first ten weeks of 2023, shootings accounted for 44% of homicides, which is the highest cause of murders in the province. During the third quarter, October 2022 to December 2022, of the 2022/23 financial year, firearms were also the instrument used to commit 47,8% of all murders, which was also the highest during the period.

LEAP officers undergo rigorous training for a period of 77 days, where various aspects of law enforcement are covered. Amongst others, it includes the role and functions of a Peace Officer and Traffic Warden, basic firearm competency, tactical and restraining techniques, first responder expertise to crime scenes, stop and search approaches and the powers and duties of law enforcement officers. In addition to this, they need to at least have a matric certificate, a valid driver’s licence and no criminal record. Their fingerprints also need to be cleared.

LEAP officers are specifically deployed in areas where the murder rate is highest. These operations are based on evidence and data. This approach is also used as part of monitoring and evaluation to determine the effectiveness of LEAP and inform a cycle of continuous improvement. This includes our top 10 murder areas in the Western Cape, such as Delft, Gugulethu, Harare, Khayelitsha (Site B policing precinct), Kraaifontein, Mfuleni, Mitchells Plain, Nyanga, Philippi East, and Samora Machel. Other high crime areas in which they are deployed are Atlantis, Bishop Lavis and Hanover Park, along with Lavender Hill, Steenberg and Grassy Park.

Western Cape Minister of Police Oversight and Community Safety, Reagen Allen said: “Our LEAP officers are highly skilled, trained and competent agents. They operate in a professional and ethical manner. This is done to ensure that safer communities are created, to serve and protect these residents, and to put citizens in these high crime areas at ease, knowing that there is a law enforcement unit that has their best interest at heart.”

“LEAP is not a fly-by-night initiative, instead it is a unit that enforces law and order, so that residents who are plagued by high rates of crime can be freed from this devastating reality. Furthermore, it serves as a force multiplier to the South African Police Service (SAPS), while also working hand-in-hand with other City of Cape Town law enforcement agencies. I urge members of society at large to work with our LEAP officers so that crime is eradicated from our communities,” concluded Minister Reagen Allen.

Source: Government of South Africa