Metropolis Leaders Lock Down Union Sq. Forward of Vacation Buying


Flanked by cops and an array of neighborhood ambassadors, and within the shadow of a towering Union Sq. Christmas Tree, Main London Breed and enterprise leaders unveiled a brand new security plan meant to forestall the viral retail thefts that ravaged the central purchasing district one yr in the past .

Dubbed the Secure Shopper initiative, this system harkens again to the legislation enforcement that flooded the realm final yr after dozens of individuals broke into Louis Vuitton and different luxurious retailersstealing hundreds in merchandise in an incident that unfold broadly on-line.

“There are a variety of movies that proceed to go viral that attempt to paint a very harsh image of our metropolis,” mentioned Mayor London Breed. “However I am right here to inform you that issues have modified, issues are wanting up, and I’m optimistic and excited concerning the future.”

The plan calls for enhancing the variety of uniformed officers posted within the purchasing district, along with limiting factors of entry and shutting of sure streets to vehicles. The town additionally plans to extend patrols in Union Sq. parking garages by cops, park rangers and different safety personnel.

The initiative additionally dovetails with a latest push so as to add one other 150 unarmed neighborhood ambassadors and retired cops and increase their footprint across the metropolis. Extra ambassadors will probably be posted in and round Union Sq., significantly on Market Avenue between Fourth and Fifth Streets.

Welcome Ambassadors 2
Brian DeBellevue is one among a number of dozen Welcome Ambassadors who’ve been employed to greet and help guests to San Francisco. | Photograph by Mike Cuba

Breed went on to tout the returning buyers to Union Sq. and visitors to native motels, describing enhanced powerwashing to maintain streets and sidewalks clear and a suggestion of 1 hour of free parking within the Union Sq. storage.

Breed’s cheerleading kicks off a vacation purchasing season that’s symbolic of a return to normalcy after two years of the pandemic—and a spate of looting final yr that embarrassed town on a nationwide stage.

Police Chief Invoice Scott highlighted the viral thefts as a turning level that tarnished town’s fame. As a part of the Secure Shopper plan, the police division is quadrupling the 4 to 6 uniformed and plainclothes officers assigned to Union Sq. and surrounding streets. They’re utilizing additional time pay permitted as a part of town’s funds to take action.

“I might quote statistics all day lengthy, however when you do not come right here and really feel secure, none of that issues.” Scott mentioned.

Scott laid out a number of the division’s progress in combating retail theft, together with doubling the variety of officers within the group’s retail crime unit from 4 to eight and greater than 80 retail theft circumstances the place expenses are pending or filed. The cell command middle that stood in Union Sq. final yr as a transparent signal of the elevated legislation enforcement presence may even stay.

As for the way lengthy this heightened safety will stay? Scott mentioned that he hopes it is a everlasting fixture.

“The truth is that now we have to stability this with what’s taking place elsewhere within the metropolis, however we try to construction ourselves in a manner that this doesn’t go away,” Scott mentioned in an interview.

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Mirroring the tough-on-crime language that helped her win election to a full time period, District Legal professional Brooke Jenkins mentioned that “restoring accountability” for misbehavior is one among her essential priorities.

“I believe for the primary time in a very long time, we have realized the connection between legislation enforcement and the District Legal professional’s Workplace and our San Francisco economic system,” Jenkins mentioned. “We won’t permit our companies to be ravaged and rampant theft to go on and count on them to remain.”

Mousa Mihter, who works as a safety guard in Union Sq., voiced help for metropolis leaders’ powerful discuss on accountability. Whereas working within the neighborhood throughout final yr’s vacation season, he mentioned there was a sense of unease amongst workers significantly after the thefts.

“In the course of the pandemic, we didn’t really feel secure; everybody was masking their face, and we by no means knew what individuals had been going to do,” Mihter mentioned.

This yr, he mentioned, issues are shaping up a lot better with no issues he is seen within the lead-up to this vacation purchasing season.


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