“We as the SA Police Service (SAPS) have decided to grow our own team: a special, professional breed of police officers and this is what we present to you today,” she said at the opening of the SAPS University in Paarl in the Western Cape.
“You have come this far, you are the pioneers, do not disappoint us.”
She referred to the institution’s first batch of students, 23 women and 102 men, as guinea pigs of an initiative to create a more professional, efficient and effective police service.
Graduates would receive a bachelor of policing degree.
“By combining the academic side of university with a professional police culture, we will be able to build future leaders for the police,” Phiyega said.
“As we take these first baby steps, we do so with absolute confidence because we know we have giants in the industry and those who have gone before us.”
Phiyega said the university honoured the call by President Jacob Zuma to take education more seriously.
In October, SAPS partnered with the University of SA to re-skill the service and make it more professional.
The institution was expected to equip officers with proper theoretical and practical training.
It first opened up as the SA Police College for Advanced Training in 1990. It has since undergone many name changes and was best known as the SAPS Academy Paarl.
Enrolment was aimed at those between the Constable and Warrant Officer ranks, looking to gain executive management and leadership skills.
Students were required to be between the ages of 20 and 30, have three years police experience, a national senior certificate and no criminal or departmental cases against them.
They were also required to undergo fitness and psychometric tests.