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.
Studying a Diploma in Metropolitan and Traffic Policing Management
If you are interested in ensuring the safety of South African’s on our roads and in crime busting then you may consider pursuing a part-time diploma in Metropolitan and Traffic Policing Management at Lyceum’s School of Public Safety Studies. It’s a leading programme in the field of traffic police practice in Africa and is registered with the Department of Higher Education and Training and accredited by the Council of Higher Education.
The course is put together by industry professionals who are in touch with the successes and challenges of the police force and continue to research into policing practice in order to equip students to be ready to deal effectively with whatever faces traffic and police departments. It prepares one with the knowledge and skills necessary to enter into the industry or advance in the field.
Some of the subjects covered include:
- general management for law enforcement
- traffic science
- business communications
- crime scene management
- and crime prevention.
If you have a National Senior Certificate or the equivalent then you’re ready to apply.
How long does it take?
Since it is a part-time diploma, students are given a minimum of 3 years and a maximum of 6 years to complete the course.
What can I do with this qualification?
With a diploma in Metropolitan and Traffic Policing Management from Lyceum College these are your options once you’ve completed the qualification:
- Metro Police Officer
- Provincial Traffic Inspector
- Traffic/Police Officer
- Municipal Law Enforcement Officer
Traffic and Metropolitan Police Officers will always be necessary in communities across the country to fight crime and keep the roads as safe as possible. It’s a job that requires much sacrifice, discipline and courage as you may at times place yourself in some dangerous situations. It’s often a thankless job, but metro and traffic policing are very important functions in society and our country. It takes a dedicated and committed individual to wake up everyday with a resolve to serve and protect without fear or favour.