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CT Traffic Department Introduces the Ghost Squad


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The City of Cape Town is making a stand against road offenders in a way that seems sneaky but in fact is necessary. The city has introduced a new unit called the Ghost Squad to the traffic department, they are experienced traffic officers who will be spread across the peninsula in 'civilian' clothing and be on the look out for traffic violators. The motorists will then be flagged down by traffic officers in uniform and be fined for their offense.

In the article below Karen Breytenbach reports on this story and gives you more detail on how the squad works and why it has been initiated. Use the link to view various articles on The City of Cape Town including business related topics.

Capetonians should beware the Ghost Squad
By Karen Breytenbach

In a major effort to reduce road deaths and clamp down on serious traffic violations, the spruced-up and better resourced Cape Town Traffic Service has launched a specialist unit operating in unmarked vehicles, dubbed the Ghost Squad.

The highly trained specialist unit will use powerful new cars and motorcycles of different colours to blend into traffic across the Peninsula, from Atlantis to Gordon's Bay.

Offending motorists will be flagged down by uniformed officers, with powers to arrest, using sirens, public address systems and flashing blue lights.

Officers on motorcycles will be hard to spot in traffic, wearing regular helmets and plain dark jackets.

The unit will focus on collision-causing traffic offences such as reckless and negligent driving, cutting in, driving under the influence of alcohol, illegal U-turns and using a cellphone without a hands-free set.

"Motorists tend to only obey traffic laws when a traffic officer is in the vicinity. We intend to change this mindset by deploying 'invisible' law enforcement through the Ghost Squad," said JP Smith, mayoral committee member for safety and security.

Heathcliff Thomas, head of Traffic Services in Cape Town, said if the traffic police wanted to establish high visibility, 10 000 uniformed traffic officers would have been needed.

"So we decided, let's rather box smart. We want to establish omnipresence," Thomas said.

Based at Gallows Hill Traffic Department in Green Point, the Ghost Squad will work closely with other specialist units in the Cape Town Traffic Service such as video surveillance, highway patrol and public transport.

The unit, headed by Inspector Lance Crowster, is trained in advanced motor vehicle and motorcycle driving, and advanced weapons tactics.

The 12 hand-picked officers each have more than 10 years experience and will soon be joined by 40 additional specially trained officers.

Smith said former mayor Helen Zille often expressed concern that the crime problem in South Africa was responsible for capital flight.

Traffic Services was one of the most severely neglected areas in law enforcement a few years ago, Smith said.

Things started to change when Traffic Services became independent, and the Metro Police, traffic and fire services departments' combined budget was upped to R86-million in 2008.

An annual award for top performing Metro Police, traffic and fire officers is being introduced, and several bylaws are being reviewed.

Traffic police on Thursday arrested 142 motorists for driving in the bus lane on the N2.

Of 117 issued fines, 40 were for unlicenced drivers, 33 for unlicensed vehicles and 13 for overloaded taxis.

Some offenders were government officials.

Serious traffic offences can be reported to the Central Traffic Services Information Centre on 021 596 1400.

Date Posted: 2009-07-10
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