Failure to Tap the Service Potential of South African police reservists

"Reservists have worked in the South African Police Service (SAPS) for over fifty years, yet little is known about them, and no research has been conducted into how they can be utilised to help in the fight against not only South Africa’s high levels of crime but also the prevalence of fear in the country. This policy brief provides seven workable recommendations as to how the services of reservists could be better utilised. However, beyond the findings which related to issues of identity (which are encompassed in historical and organisational practices which tend to maintain and sustain differential treatment and perspectives), the interviewees also noted that reservists are being sidelined, and that their utilisation as a resource at any given station is largely dependent on the relevant station commander – not on a centralised mandate which hopes to better community relations. This brief, as such, will not be focusing on the sociological and theoretical dimensions of the research but rather on practical recommendations which provide workable steps toward recognising the potential of reservists in policing, which could in turn help to curtail the prevalence of fear in our society. As such, this brief seeks to provide recommendations which will help policy makers and policing practitioners to better utilise the potential of reservists. Reservists could be used not only as additional ‘manpower’ but also as a community liaison group (much like Community Policing Forums or CPFs), able to serve as a legitimate link and information carrier between communities and police."