Woodstock police, residents exchange safety ideas

Police asked Woodstock residents to offer ideas on how to make the community safer.

The impact of drugs, help from community groups and the need for the police to work harder to get to know the community and build trust, were some of the issues residents raised during the meeting at the police station on Monday night.

Andile Klaas, who lives in Woodstock Hospital, also known as the Cissie Gool House since it was occupied by housing activist group Reclaim the City, said the police should change their attitudes to those living in the building.

He said they did not need to be referred to as a problem building.

“When you complain about something, we get asked where we stay and then the police attitude changes,” he said.

Station commander Colonel Duma Ntsezo agreed officers should not judge or take sides.

Zelda Johnson, from the Victory Outreach church, said the many children bunking school in the area were vulnerable to drug peddlers.

Former community police forum member Fatima Mayman said the police should do more to gain people’s trust.

“People that work at the police, need to get to know the community better,” she said.

Colonel Ntsezo said the station wanted to increase its efforts to fight drugs in the community.

“We focus on the user, who is the victim; we should focus more on the dealer,” he said.

The community should work together to tackle truancy and use school safety programmes. The police would notify schools in cases where pupils could be identified by their uniforms, he said.

Colonel Ntsezo urged people who had opened criminal cases to insist on getting feedback on them.

He added: “We need to identify the good officers so that they can plant the right seeds amongst the other officers to change the attitudes.”