MAYOR BREED KICKS OFF SAFE SHOPPER INITIATIVE FOR THE HOLIDAY SEASON IN UNION SQUARE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, November 15, 2022
Contact: Mayor’s Office of Communications, mayorspressoffice@sfgov.org

PRESS RELEASE
MAYOR BREED KICKS OFF SAFE SHOPPER INITIATIVE FOR THE HOLIDAY SEASON IN UNION SQUARE
The public safety initiative will focus on Union Square and other key tourist areas to support the City’s economic recovery, building on the recent expansion of community ambassadors. 

San Francisco, CA – Today Mayor London N. Breed joined Police Chief William Scott, District Attorney Brooke Jenkins, and business and community leaders to kick off the 2022 Safe Shopper initiative in and around Union Square for the holiday season. The City will again deploy additional police and community ambassadors to the area for enhanced public safety to maintain a safe shopping experience for visitors, workers and residents.

“The safety of our residents, workers, and visitors is the City’s top priority, and I want to thank our public safety partners for taking every precautionary measure to ensure a successful holiday season,” said Mayor London Breed. “We are taking lessons learned from last year to inform this year’s safety strategy in Union Square and the surrounding areas. As we continue to work on our economic recovery, our public safety staff and community partners are focused on making sure everyone has a welcoming and positive experience supporting our local businesses.”

Following the 2021 mass organized retail theft incident in Union Square that brought felony charges to multiple people, Mayor Breed announced a new safety initiative in tandem with the San Francisco Police Department’s (SFPD) rollout of the Community Ambassador program, which is comprised of civilian retired police officers hired for their training and experience in community engagement. After the launch of this effort last year, SFPD reported a significant decrease in crime from November 20 through December 6 compared to the preceding 16-day period:

67% decrease in assault
91% decrease in burglary
82% decrease in larceny/theft
100% decrease in motor vehicle theft
Compared to last year the City has not seen the same elevation in crime going into this holiday season, largely attributed to a scaled-up presence in the Union Square area which has helped deter criminal activity. The goal of the Safe Shopper initiative is to continue these efforts.

“The San Francisco Police Department is committed to public safety. We want everyone in our city to have a safe and happy holiday season,” said Police Chief Bill Scott. “Our department is committed to working collaboratively with our elected officials, city agencies, the business community, SF travel, and residents of our community to ensure the safety of everyone living in and visiting San Francisco. Whether you’re coming here to shop, to dine, or visit one of our many historical landmarks, we are committed to keeping everyone in San Francisco safe.”

“I am proud to join Mayor Breed, the San Francisco Police Department and our many community and business partners to ensure a safe holiday experience for our residents, workers and visitors,” said District Attorney Brooke Jenkins. “I look forward to visiting Union Square every year with my family during the holidays, for the great shopping, amazing lights, ice skating and so much more. Keeping each other safe is important all the time, everywhere, but especially important during the holidays. Addressing crimes against retailers and businesses is essential to restoring public safety. While the goal is to prevent crime, we stand ready to prosecute criminal behavior.”

Similar to last year, the City will work with SFPD to limit points of entry on Union Square with some street closures to automobile traffic as added safety measures. In addition to a ramped-up police presence in and around Union Square, the City plans to increase patrol in Union Square parking garages by SFPD, the Park Rangers, and security personnel. More SFPD Community Ambassadors will be deployed to Union Square as part of the Safe Shopper initiative.

Last month, Mayor Breed announced the expansion of the City’s community ambassador program throughout downtown BART/MUNI stations and key tourist areas, to include hiring more SFPD Community Ambassadors as part of ongoing work to address public safety incidents and revive San Francisco’s economic core. The expansion will also include an increase to Ambassador presence throughout Union Square with an emphasis on adding posts to Market Street between 4th and 5th streets by Thanksgiving.

“San Francisco has planned an exciting, innovative, and welcoming holiday shopping season with special events and activities lined up for the entire family. As we kick our holidays into gear, we want to make this special time of the year is easy and fun for the thousands of visitors that will visit Union Square and spend local this season,” said Kate Sofis, Executive Director of the Office of Economic and Workforce Development. “We proud of the collective efforts of our public safety agencies and community ambassadors working in collaboration to create a festive environment for guests and businesses alike and I am grateful for their commitment to the Safe Shopper Initiative which is essential to our economic recovery.”

“San Francisco’s Union Square is synonymous with the holidays for San Franciscans, Bay Area residents, and visitors alike,” said Marisa Rodriguez, Executive Director of Union Square Alliance. “As such, safety continues to be a top priority this holiday season. We want to thank our Mayor London Breed, Police Chief Scott, new District Attorney Brook Jenkins, and our City leaders for ensuring a safe and welcoming holiday experience for all to enjoy.”

Union Square is a worldwide destination for tourists offering over 3 million square feet of retail space to include 37 hotels, which is essential to the City’s economic recovery and core to retail and tourism sectors. The area will transform into the epicenter of San Francisco’s holiday programming.

Earlier this month, Mayor Breed joined Macy’s for the official Holiday Tree lighting signaling the official start of the season. The newly opened Safeway Ice Skating Rink will complement the Holiday Market at Hallidie Plaza, designed to offer a festive environment featuring handmade gifts, food and beverages, and live entertainment by local vendors. The seasonal programming will help culminate the “Winter Wanderland” Campaign led by the Union Square Alliance.

The City will also offer free viewing parties for the upcoming World Cup games in Union Square on November, 25, 26, and 27th. For more information, please visit worldcupsf.org.

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