SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) - For the last 8 months, San Francisco police changed how it combats crime in the Tenderloin neighborhood.
Instead of fighting illegal activity from a vehicle, two teams of officers ditched their patrol cars to walk the streets of the Tenderloin, an area that is plagued with crime and has an increasing homeless population.
The officers say during the short amount of time they've worked this beat, they've seen a change in the area.
"The sidewalk would be blocked. People with wheelchairs would have to go into the streets. Pedestrians were walking in the streets. It was really bad, you couldn't walk on the sidewalks," says San Francisco Police Officer Pernisha Battle.
Officers say something as simple as barriers help reduce the number of people loitering on the streets.
A higher police presence also disrupts rampant drug activity.
"They may have saw us coming from half a block down. But usually on the corner, there are a lot of people using drugs right there. So the dealers are in close proximity to the users. So they don't have their clients there they have no reason to stand out here," says Battle.
"If we can get these people off the drugs and get them back to a better position in life. I think that says something in terms of what we're doing," says San Francisco Police Officer Victor Custodio.
Besides serving as a deterrent, the officers are also there to help.
"We do the foot beat walk up and down to make sure that every homeless person has the resources. Everyone we come across can flag us down with whatever issue they may have" says Custodio.
Although the officers have the authority to make an arrest, that's not their goal.
"We take action if we have to. We normally try not to go that route. We try to just see what we can do while they're out here instead of taking them to jail. Because jail is not the answer," says Battle.
Business owners and people who live in the area say seeing the officers walk the streets is a welcome change.