SFPD launches community liaison unit to improve relationships with the public

San Francisco has launched a new Community Liaison Division in that city's police department, the aim is to build better relations with the city's diverse communities.

The five officer unit's aim is to work with the city's various communities to improve the reporting of crimes against those communities and build trust. The New Community Liaison Unit of the San Francisco Police Department is already taking to the streets.

The five member unit comprised of officers from diverse backgrounds, aimed at reaching out to the city's diverse communities.

"They represent various communities within San Francisco," said Sgt. Michael Andraychak from San Francisco Police Department. "For example, African American, Latino,  the LGBTQ the Muslim Community and the Asian Pacific Islander Communities." 

The officers come from the police departments community engagement division, and their aim is to develop trust and relationships with the city's various communities, encouraging them to report crimes when they occur and ultimately reduce prejudice based crimes.

"Having these officers assigned on a full-time basis will help us to enhance those existing relationships and perhaps build upon those and build some new relationships," said Andraychak. "So that if the unfortunate incident does occur we've already got those relationships built."

San Francisco's mayor saying the new unit is tasked with establishing ties with the city's various communities, and making sure they work with the police.

"The feedback that we got from the community was they were a little uncomfortable with reaching out directly to the police," said Mayor London Breed. "And did not know whether or not the crime that happened rose to a level where they should be concerned and so part of this unit is really about developing relationships to community."

Rudy Corpuz Jr. is executive director of the United Playaz, a group dedicated to the reduction of street violence. He  says in creating this new unit accountability is going to be critical going forward. Making sure that the police are viewed as allies, talking about and taking responsibility in instances where officers use excessive force.

It will take officers sensitive to the needs of the city's various communities. "If they have the right people to do the job. This position and the job this task force have to be trained and skilled to know how to deal with people," said Corpuz. "They have to have the skill to deal with mentally ill folks, people who are in crisis."

The officers in the community liaison unit will regularly attend community meetings with the goal of getting to know the community, building partnerships and establishing trust. They'll be providing education and guidance to prevent citizens from becoming victims of crime, and reporting that to police if they do.