SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Officials in San Francisco on Monday announced plans to increase police foot and bicycle patrols in areas heavily traveled by tourists to safeguard visitors who might be targeted by thieves.

Mayor London N. Breed and San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott appeared at the landmark Dragon’s Gate in Chinatown to provide details on the new community policing plan and additional officer deployment. With reduced COVID-19 restrictions allowing for the return of travelers to the city, officials estimate over 15.3 million visitors could come to San Francisco by year’s end.

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“It’s not enough to restore tourist trust, but it’s a start. That’s the plan,” said Mayor Breed. “You have to prove it. You have to build trust and people have to have better experiences in order to see that happen.”

The plan will provide high-visibility police deployment that will protect tourists as well as support the economic sectors that serve visitors.

“Tourism has long been an economic powerhouse in our city, bringing not just local tax revenue to fund vital city services but also jobs and economic opportunities for generations of San Franciscans,” Mayor Breed said in a release. “San Francisco has done an incredible job managing this pandemic, and with one of the highest vaccination rates of anywhere in the country, we are working hard to reopen our city. That means bringing more officers to our tourist areas, as well as other efforts like our recently funded efforts to add more ambassadors and performances throughout Downtown, the Waterfront, and Mid-Market areas.”

The Tourism Deployment Plan draws heavily from a community policing strategy that is a cornerstone to the SFPD’s police reforms. The department will deploy 26 additional police officers on bicycle and foot patrols to a number of high-traffic and highly sought-after travel destinations in five of the city’s ten police districts. The districts include:

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  • Central Police District – 14 additional officers on bike and foot patrols covering Union Square, Market Street, Powell Street, Chinatown and Lower Grant Avenue, Pier 39 and Fisherman’s Wharf, North Beach and the crooked portion of Lombard Street.
  • Mission Police District – Two additional officers on bike and foot patrols in the Castro and Upper Market.
  • Northern Police District – Six additional officers on bicycle patrols around the Palace of Fine Arts, Alamo Square and Japantown.
  • Park Police District – Two additional officers on bicycle patrols along the Haight Street commercial corridor.
  • Richmond Police District – Two additional officers on bicycle patrols in Golden Gate Park.

“The San Francisco Police Department’s Tourism Deployment Plan is one more step that’s making good on our city’s united commitment to come back from COVID-19 stronger than ever before,” said Scott. “Together with the Mid-Market Vibrancy and Safety Plan, Shine On SF, and a shared spaces program that’s here to stay, all of us in SFPD are grateful for the opportunity to do our part for the comeback and to put community policing to work.”

San Francisco’s reputation has taken multiple hits in recent months thanks to viral videos of violent street crimes and a dramatic spike in vehicle break-ins. The mayor and chief called the plan an assertive effort to stop crime before it happens and hold criminals accountable.

“If you go to Union Square, Market Street, Powell Street, Chinatown, Lower Grant, Pier 39, Fisherman’s Wharf, North Beach and the crookedest part of our city, Lombard Street – where we have had some issues, you should be seeing some officers there and those officers do make a difference,” said Chief Scott.

The additional officers will be funded through overtime funds and will supplement and not subtract from the current deployment of officers, the chief said.

In addition to officers patrolling those areas, an increased number of public “ambassadors” will be provided as part of the Downtown Recovery Plan as funded by Breed’s proposed budget. Those ambassadors will be available to provide information to visitors throughout the downtown and Union Square areas.

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Andria Borba contributed to this report.