San Francisco

San Francisco Expands Ambassador Program to Include West Portal

NBC Universal, Inc.

Just in time for the holiday shopping season, San Francisco is expanding its ambassador program to include the city's West Portal neighborhood.

The move is designed to give merchants and shoppers in the area piece of mind when it comes to safety.

"We have been having a real challenge with public safety," Mayor London Breed said. "The number one issue that the people of San Francisco care about is making sure that when they’re shopping or walking down the street or whatever it is that they’re doing that they feel safe."

Breed and San Francisco police Chief Bill Scott visited the West Portal neighborhood on Thursday to meet with merchants and talk about the plan to expand the neighborhood ambassador program, which includes retired police officers. Normally they're in more touristy areas like Union Square.

The ambassadors and police presence have become even more necessary after last year when viral videos showed groups of thieves helping themselves to high-end merchandise.

Breed said the city has taken action, including adding additional police academy classes and alternative policing support.

"In addition to our legislation that was passed to allow access to video surveillance when appropriate, to ensure that what happened last year downtown, which went viral like crazy, but what didn’t go viral was our response, the additional ambassadors and police officers and all the work that we did," Breed said.

Scott said the ambassadors provide an extra layer of help.

"They are eyes and ears," he said. "They're not police officers. They have police radios. They know the codes. They know what they’re looking for. They request on-duty resources if they see something that doesn’t look right."

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