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If you can be described as someone who is concerned for other peoples’ safety, you’re responsible and courageous, then you might consider joining the police academy as a Traffic or Metropolitan Police Officer.
During the festive season and long weekends the news is often abuzz with traffic reports, road accidents and the increased crime rate throughout the country. Although newsmakers place these issues on their agenda a few times a year, metropolitan and traffic police make public safety, policing and crime prevention their everyday job.
If you’re constantly telling people to buckle up for their safety or you’re always looking and giving others tips on how they can stay safe while out in public places then becoming a traffic or metro police officer may just be the career for you.
There is often confusion about the difference between these two professions. Both traffic officers and metro police are not part of the South African Police Service, but they often work together to enforce the law.
Differences Between Traffic and Metro Police Officers
1. Traffic Police Officers
Traffic Police Officers concern themselves with the enforcement of traffic laws, road safety and issuing of fines those who violate traffic laws and by-laws. Their key role is to ensure that traffic flows freely on the roads and accidents are minimised. Traffic officers are restricted by jurisdiction and cannot arrest outside their town. According to the Road Traffic Management Corporation, the characteristics of a traffic officer are:
Discipline and Courage
Responsible and Self-Motivated
Professionalism and Good Judgement
Skilled and Knowledgable
Honest & Ethical
2. Metropolitan Officers
Metropolitan Police Officers are found in different Metropolitan municipalities in the country and are concerned with traffic law enforcement, bylaws enforcement as well as fighting and preventing crime. This includes putting up warning signs in high-risk areas to help citizens remain vigilant, policing and patrolling, working with communities as well as enforcing by-laws and dealing with traffic law infringements. Although a separate entity, sharing of crime data with the South African Police Service remains vital and in the event of an arrest, the Metro Police hand over offenders to the SAPS for further investigation and bringing the offender before the courts of law for prosecution and the for the courts to give appropriate sentences.
Ekurhuleni Metro Police Department Chief Superintendent Bob Motshabi says that any aspiring Metro Police Officer needs to be passionate about people, able to go an extra mile for the community and law enforcement,
“This is more of a calling than a career. It requires passion and people skills. You need to know legislations and by-laws so equip yourself in terms of your education. Once you’re well trained, you can stop four lanes of traffic with just one hand, how nice is that?”
What Does it Take to Become a Metro or Traffic Police Officer?
Grade 12 or equivalent
No criminal record
Code 8 driving license or more
Medically and physically fit.
Between 18 and 35 years old
Chief Supt Motshabi says that the Metro Police department isn’t about making money.
“We are more of peacemakers than we are about issuing out fines. For example, when we are at a march or gathering, we don’t give people an ultimatum to leave but we negotiate and reach an agreement. We are no longer an aggressive kind of force; instead we’ll negotiate and negotiate, and negotiate some more before we take the option to disperse the crowd. That’s really what I enjoy about our job, we really interact with the community.”
The job of a metro police officer is not for the faint hearted.
“When you sign the service contract, you say you’re going to protect the citizens of the metropolitan area and that means if someone’s life is threatened, I would put my life on the line,”
says Chief Supt Motshabi.
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