For the love of safety
“There were times when I strongly contemplated to exit the [Metro Police] service, but I am glad that I persevered for the good of my colleagues, my family and myself.”
This sentiment was expressed by Cape Town Metropolitan Police director of civilian affairs, Kevin Maxwell, on receiving an award for 35 years of service.
He was one of 99 staff members at the City of Cape Town’s Safety and Security Directorate who were recently commended for long service. Collectively, they have a staggering 2761 years of service between them.
Maxwell began his career as a traffic officer, before working his way up the ranks.
“I was a very young and enthusiastic individual intrigued by the professional display and responsibility of the traffic profession and the deep sense created by my parents to work. The profession also presented opportunities, in addition to delivering a necessary service, an opportunity to improve our economic and social circumstances.”
But the service has undergone many changes over the years, the biggest of which is interaction with the public, he says.
“My view is that during the early years there was a higher rate of compliance and respect for the rule of law. During my time as a traffic officer, motorists seldom questioned or challenged the action taken by the officers when they were caught committing an offence. I by no means suggest that anyone must accept inappropriate behaviour from officers of the law. Some would accept their punishment and still show appreciation for us policing the roads. As time progressed, including the ushering in of the new dispensation in our country, I experience with great sadness that the situation is deteriorating at an alarming rate,” he says.
Maxwell believes in performing his duties with constraint, compassion and respect, which he admits can be a challenge.
“My colleagues discharge their duties in a very dangerous, volatile and demanding environment. I must ensure that they are given proper support to execute their duties. The dynamism of the environment requires that legislative, logistical and policy support is commensurate with the demands of the environment,” he says.
As a young traffic officer, Maxwell was fortunate to be mentored by older officers. He says being afforded the opportunity, from very early in his career, to work with persons who “unselfishly took it upon [themselves] to mentor and coach” him is one of the highlights in his career.