public safety

Press Release: Five New Public Safety Programs to Combat Anti-Asian Hate and Violence

From District 4 Supervisor Gordon Mar:

Supervisor Gordon Mar and Sunset District Community Leaders Announce Five New Public Safety Programs

Programs announced as Lunar New Year begins in response to ongoing concerns about anti-Asian hate and violence

With the start of  the Lunar New Year and following a surge in anti-Asian hate, Supervisor Gordon Mar was joined by community leaders and the SF Police Department to announce five new public safety programs for the Sunset District, the Asian community and seniors.

The programs include Self-Help for the Elderly’s senior escort service, free installation of Ring video doorbells for senior homeowners, expansion of the Office of Civic Engagement and Immigrant Affairs’ Community Ambassador Program (CAP) to the Sunset, the volunteer-led Sunset Safety Squad, and creation of the Sunset Safety Network to coordinate and expand public safety programs in the neighborhood.

“I’m proud to announce and bring together five new public safety programs to the Sunset District that will provide a comprehensive effort to ensure that our families, seniors and neighborhood are safe and secure,” said Mar. “These programs include a senior escort program, free installation of Ring video doorbells for seniors, expansion of the City’s Community Ambassador Program to the Sunset, a volunteer-led Sunset Safety Squad, and creation of the Sunset Safety Network to comprehensively coordinate all these efforts with the law enforcement agencies.”

Self-Help for the Elderly’s senior escort program ensures the safety of seniors on City streets and helps seniors go to activities, such as medical appointments, banks, grocery shopping, laundromat and senior activity centers. Self-Help for the Elderly is also implementing the effort to give free Ring Cameras to seniors and homeowners in the Sunset District. Due to the immense and widespread popularity of the program, applications have already closed.

“Many of our seniors are cooped up at home because they don’t feel safe leaving. The senior escort program and free Ring Camera program will make our seniors feel safe at home and on the streets and prevent them from being hurt,” said Anni Chung, President and CEO of Self-Help for the Elderly. “The Ring Camera program was so popular that we received 500 applications for 200 available cameras.” 

After Supervisor Mar’s successful push to get funding for the CAP in the City Budget, the Office of Civic Engagement and Immigrant Affairs, which manages CAP, will begin to staff the Sunset with four community ambassadors. Community ambassadors provide a visible safety presence in neighborhoods and can provide safety escorts, report hazards and emergencies, as well as conduct wellness checks and outreach. The Office of Civic Engagement and Immigrant Affairs is currently hiring for the positions. 

“The community ambassador program and the volunteer-led Sunset Safety Squad will provide a culturally and language competent public safety presence in the Sunset District,” said Mar. “The Sunset Safety Squad has been helping residents learn about important city public safety programs including the storefront vandalism relief grant I created.”

Sunset Safety Squad members doing a safety walk on Ninth Avenue between Lincoln Way and Irving Street. Courtesy photo.

The Sunset Safety Squad was formed by Sunset residents last year in the wake of rising violence and harassment targeting seniors and the Asian community to promote public safety in the Sunset through education, outreach, training, community building, language translation, commercial corridor safety walks, and a block safety program. It has over forty volunteers consisting of mostly young neighborhood residents and professionals volunteering their time. The volunteer-led organization has an ongoing effort to recruit new volunteers from the neighborhood to join its ranks.

“As hate incidents against seniors and the Asian community blew up last year, I met many young people that were feeling hopeless and angry,” said Alan Wong, who started the Sunset Safety Squad with Sunset community members. “These young people wanted to step up and do something but they didn’t know what. So with direct support from Supervisor Mar, we organized young people to do volunteer safety walks in the neighborhood. We give out safety whistles, information about the bilingual police hotline, provide a visible safety presence in the neighborhood, and are forming a neighborhood block safety program.”

Through Supervisor Mar’s role on the Budget Committee, he also funded a full-time position assigned to a Community-Based Organization in the Sunset District to bring together the wide array of public safety efforts and resources to work on a comprehensive public safety strategy.

“I have been working hard to use my legislative and budget role on the Board of Supervisors to bring increased public safety resources and funding to the Sunset District,” said Mar. “This comprehensive approach will ensure that our community can feel safe again walking on our streets. We will coordinate all these efforts under the umbrella of a Sunset District safety network I am creating that includes the SF Police Department, Sunset Safety Squad, Community Ambassador Program, and senior escort program.”

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