SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- A new unit with the San Francisco police department will focus on improving trust between residents and officers, Mayor London Breed announced on Friday.
The new Community Liaisons Unit will consist of five dedicated officers from the department's Community Engagement Division who will work with residents by supporting victims of crime as well as tracking hate crimes and racially-based incidents.
With the new unit, police officials are hoping to better connect the department with the city's diverse communities, like the African American, Muslim, Asian and Pacific Islander and Latino communities, as well as seniors and immigrants.
"We want to make sure that anyone who is a victim of a hate crime or any other crime motivated by prejudice knows that their city and their police department is there to help them. This new unit will give the community a place to turn to when they need assistance and where they know they'll be treated with dignity and respect," Breed said in a statement.
"We're allocating our resources in a way that focuses on helping the community navigate the criminal justice system, which can be confusing and intimidating if you don't have help, and we're continuing our work to prevent crime from happening in the first place."
Police chief William Scott said "Maintaining this trust and cooperation with the community is essential to our crime-prevention mission and in solving crimes when they do occur."
The new community liaison unit comes amid an increase in hate crimes being reported in the city, particularly against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"With anti-Asian sentiment and hate crimes on the rise, this new program will be especially beneficial for our API communities navigating this difficult time," assemblyman David Chiu (D-San Francisco) said.
In addition to supporting crime victims and tracking hate crimes, the unit also plans to conduct outreach with community organizations and residents and promote the use of police's anonymous tip line, particularly among non-English-speaking residents.
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