SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) — San Francisco’s mayor wants tourists, local residents, and workers alike to feel “welcome” in the city.

Mayor London Breed announced on Monday that she is sending more community ambassadors and civilian police department personnel onto the streets to add a “layer of safety” to San Francisco.

“As part of Mayor Breed’s plans to ramp up public safety efforts to aid the city’s economic
recovery, ambassadors have already been deployed in the Mid-Market, Tenderloin,
Downtown, and tourist areas,” the Mayor’s Office wrote.

The expansion will add up to 150 new ambassadors and attendants. They will be a mix of Mid-Market/Tenderloin Safety Ambassadors, orange-jacketed SF Welcome Ambassadors, BART service attendants, and retired police officers serving as SFPD Community Ambassadors.

San Francisco has come under scrutiny for its homeless encampments, open-air drug users, and a perceived lack of public safety. Over the weekend, the U.K. Daily Mail published an article titled, “Ghost-town San Francisco” with photographs showing downtown streets. The Daily Mail described San Francisco as a “woke city” that is “infamous for homelessness, public drug-taking and serious crime.”

Breed said the city has been brainstorming “creative” ways to make the streets feel more “positive and welcoming.”

“Conditions in the Mission have been unacceptable for quite some time. We have been working
to restore a healthy atmosphere in the neighborhood while working hard not to further punish
people for being poor,” said District 9 Supervisor Hillary Ronen. “Striking this right balance
isn’t always easy.”

The mayor and the Office of Economic and Workforce Development said the ambassadors will help to benefit San Francisco’s economic recovery post-pandemic. The ambassadors program provides, “a visible presence and point of contact for people and visitors navigating our downtown and core, and in supporting our employees as they return to the office,” said Kate Sofis, executive director of EWD.

More ambassadors and transit station attendants expected to be deployed within the next six weeks.

“We are working every day to improve safety in this City,” Breed said. “San Francisco has a significant police staffing shortage, so we need to be more creative in ways that deliver a positive and welcoming experience on our street and while also ensuring our sworn
officers can do their jobs. By deploying more ambassadors and hiring more staff who can do
support work for our officers out in the field, we can better respond to residents, workers, and
visitors who want our city to be cleaner and safer.”

Police Chief Bill Scott said public safety goes beyond enforcing laws and making arrests.

“It also means creative solutions that most effectively and efficiently reduce community harms while engaging with, and building relationships with, our diverse communities. The ambassador program is a great example of how we have taken community input and collaborated with Mayor Breed to implement innovative, non-traditional policing solutions and strategies to enhance the safety of San Francisco and reduce community harms,” Scott said.

Currently, the city has allocated funding for over 250 ambassadors. The expansion will phase in as hiring and deployment allows.