“Gaining the trust of the community is one of the first things I would like to work on.” Those were the words of Colonel Mark Adonis, the newly appointed Athlone police station commander.
Colonel Adonis previously worked as lieutenant colonel at Cloetesville police station in Stellenbosch for three years.
He said becoming a station commander was a dream come true because he always wanted to work with the community and make a difference, especially in the environment in which he was raised.
Colonel Adonis grew up in Paarl East, in an area known as Chicago, with his parents and three siblings.
He said the area was known for gang shootings and this encouraged him to follow his dream of becoming a police officer.
“We are here to learn from each other. While I have an open door policy, we want to teach the community about access control because they cannot just walk in, there are processes that must be followed. We must also work closely with the Community Police Forum (CPF) because they are the middleman between the community and the police. They are there to build relationships, identify problems, and find joint solutions,” said Colonel Adonis.
He said while every station had its challenges, together with his team they would try to find solutions.
“The environment I came from, Cloetesville, is a gang area so I am more than ready to take on this position. I always tell my station members that they are the best and this station is the best. They are open with me and they have welcomed me here,” he said.
Colonel Adonis believes earning the trust of the community is challenging and important. He said that part of his plan is to attend community meetings and visit schools in the area. He wants to get involved in the community and encourages them to get to know him.
“If we work together we can make a difference. We cannot work alone because we are from the community, for the community,” he said.
He also said that Athlone police station is ready for the upcoming festive season. He said that the members have planned for this, and there will be an increase in police visibility such as foot patrols in the malls every Friday morning. He said while they will use their own resources, if there’s a need for more police officers, they will be supported by the cluster office.
“We will paint the City blue over the festive season. Our message to the community is that we won’t put up with drug houses and shebeens. Those are the major contributors to crime. The community must also be patient and give us time. There are phases in which these processes will happen but if I can gain the trust of the community it will be so much easier,” Colonel Adonis said.