SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) – San Francisco’s Castro neighborhood is the latest to add its own layer of public safety initiatives to the streets.

Unarmed community ambassadors will begin patrolling the Castro in an effort to deter crime and respond to quality-of-life issues.

The new safety ambassadors will patrol the neighborhood, starting on Tuesday at 7 a.m.

San Francisco’s Castro neighborhood is launching a new program this week to address increasing crime and quality-of-life issues.

The initiative, launched by Community Collaborative Castro Cares, includes two community ambassadors who will patrol the streets Tuesdays through Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

“Really is an extra set of eyes and ears on the street,” Andrea Aiello said.

Andrea Aiello is the executive director of Castro Community Benefit District, which manages Castro Cares. 

She believes the increase in property crime is linked to untreated mental illness and substance abuse. She hopes that the new safety ambassadors, trained in de-escalation, will help respond to these issues.

“There aren’t enough police officers and maybe for so many of these issues police is not the right response and so this is a lower, less expensive and might be the appropriate way just like our new crisis intervention team,” Aiello said.

The pilot program also includes overnight police patrols on the weekends and a homeless outreach effort.

“It includes patrols special police working weekends on evenings, evening weekends, and those are armed officers that are approved through the police commission and then we also have a Downtown Streets Team. That is our homeless outreach effort to try to reach out to those on the street, provide case management and also combine that with a job readiness training program,” Aiello said.

Supervisor Rafael Mandelman who represents the area says the patrols will also provide an added safety presence for the neighborhood.

“I think this program could help the street, the sidewalks at least feel like a safer, more comfortable for residents, tourists and businesses,” Aiello said.

The program is funded for a year but the Castro Community Benefit District hopes to continue this program for many more.