Residents in one San Francisco neighborhood hire private cop to help fight crime

Neighbors in San Francisco's Marina District have banded together and are paying for an extra set of eyes to keep a lookout for crime.

Car burglaries are an every-day occurrence around San Francisco. People living and working in the city's Marina District say their area isn't immune to crime.

"There's been store break ins, there's been car windows broken, you can see one at least every week if not every day," said Michelle Avedissian.

"Since I moved up here, a couple weeks into moving in, I got my car broken into. So, I kind of see the concern that people protect their cars and go around and see," said Jared Chavis.

Now neighbors have joined together, paying for San Francisco Patrol Special Police Officer Alan Byard to patrol the area, and respond to everything from burglaries to home invasions.

"I do everything a regular San Francisco Police Officer does except I don't engage in vehicle pursuits and I don't write tickets," said Byard.

Patrol special officers have been a part of the city since the 1850s. Operating alongside sworn police officers, they are hired to patrol a given area and act with the same powers as police officers. Byard says when he took over the Marina beat in 2017 he had about 60 clients, lately there has been an increase in demand for his services.

"Now it's about 170. Probably 20 in the last month. Just because of what's going on," said Byard.

Those who live and work in the area say the extra set of eyes couldn't hurt.

"Honestly, yeah. That kind of makes a breath of fresh air of someone going around and kind of making sure that the cars are ok," said Chavis.

Byard said even though he is paid to be here, those who don't pay for his services benefit from his being here. He pointed to homes in the area, saying even though they weren't clients he's still watching their homes and working to protect them.