Mayor Lee Launches Permanent Community Ambassadors Program in Southeast Sector

8/1/11—Mayor Edwin M. Lee today launched a permanent Community Ambassadors Program (CAP) in the City’s Southeast sector. Following a successful year-long pilot that ended in June, CAP employs a 12-member team of multiethnic Ambassadors speaking a total of eight different languages to assist residents and provide a visible, non-law enforcement presence in busy transit and business corridors along the MUNI Third Street and #9 San Bruno bus routes. The Ambassadors serve as role models and provide residents with safety tips, safe passage, language assistance, and information on critical City services and programs such as 311, MUNI, Healthy SF, City ID Card, and language complaint procedures.

“The Community Ambassadors Program is a great example of how the City, community and private sector can come together to develop innovative and effective public safety solutions,” said Mayor Lee. “Our communities and neighborhoods deserve nothing less than our very best effort, and we’ve got a lot of work to do.”

“I would like to commend all of the ambassadors for completing their technical training,” said District 10 Supervisor Malia Cohen. “Community Ambassadors truly play a vital role in the public safety framework of our City by providing some of our most vulnerable residents with a safe escort.”

CAP is a safety program designed to bridge tensions in the community due to cultural or linguistic differences. The program has three goals: 1) reassure residents and promote safety, 2) encourage collaboration, unity and civic participation by role modeling positive interactions; and 3) educate and inform residents about safety practices and available city resources and programs.

CAP was initiated by community leaders and advocates concerned about public safety following a series of high profile assaults and conflicts in Spring 2010. Developed and operated by the Office of Civic Engagement & Immigrant Affairs (OCEIA), the program promotes a close partnership with the community and the city. Key partners include Omega Boys Club, SFPD, MTA, Mayor’s Office, 311, and dozens of community-based organizations and advocates, with partial program support from Lennar Corporation and AT&T.

The Ambassador team includes five males and seven females, with individuals who are African American, Asian, Pacific Islander, and Latino. Ambassadors receive extensive training and preparation, including over 35 sessions taught by law enforcement, community based experts, city departments and academic institutions. 

During the pilot phase, Ambassadors logged over 22,000 interactions with District 10 residents and recorded thousands of daily requests and observations. They conducted two baseline surveys of residents, assisted SFPD and MUNI enforcement officers, resolved minor conflicts, and assisted non-English speaking individuals, seniors and other residents in need. Ambassadors witnessed and reported crimes to the SFPD, assisted in emergencies and responded to traffic accidents, provided medical assistance to those in need, notified transit operators of disruptive behavior on MUNI vehicles, assisted seniors boarding transit vehicles, monitored safe behavior around MUNI train tracks, distributed bilingual police, 311 and transit materials, educated passengers about the new Clipper program and MTA rules and procedures, reported safety hazards or concerns to 311, and answered a variety of questions about San Francisco and City services to tourists and residents alike.