Neighborhood watches are springing up around South Africa as SAPS actively encourages the formation of watches complete with Street Captains and regular dialogue with their police stations.
There are however a few questions to be posed before jumping in feet first. I'm fist to concede that some of these are rhetorical or have no direct answer per se, however they do need to be discussed;
Q. What happens if I am on patrol and I get injured?
A. You are on your own in terms of medical expenses, time off work for recovery etc.
Q. Will my personal insurance cover me while I'm on patrol?
A. In most instances yes, but this is up to each individual insurer and it's best to check
Q. May I carry my licenced personal firearm with me when I patrol?
A. It's your personal weapon and you're free to carry it in any legal manner. Many NHW's do ask that you provide a copy of your licence for record keeping etc. and obviously it must be totally concealed at all times as per the Arms and Ammunition Act stipulations.
Q. Should I carry Pepper Spray on patrol?
A. It's a personal decision, most people would suggest that you carry it at all times - whether patrolling or not. It's down to how you use it that matters in the eyes of the law.
Q. Vagrants are a problem in our area - can we move them along?
A. Not really no. This is a municipal issue and needs to be addressed by Metro Police in your area. You would do well to arrange a meeting with them to discuss the options.
Q. Loud music is often an issue in our area. What can we do?
A. Saps can respond and request that it's turned down if it's disturbing neighbours. There is NO "time" at which noise control kicks in, if it's loud it's loud irrespective of the time of day. Again however, this is not really a SAPS issue and best dealt with by Metro police as it's a Municipal Bylaw Infraction and they're best equipped to dish out fines etc. If they're not available however SAPS do have authority to assist.
Q. Can I patrol in my own car with magnetic signs?
A. Many watches encourage this and we can't see any reason not to.
Q. Can we get training?
A. Yes, the department of Community Safety provides training for NHW's and even will help some of your patrollers become reservist Law Enforcement Officers, inquire from your local DOCS or via your CPF for details.