DELRAY BEACH, Fla. May 6 2017- To keep people and businesses safe, Delray Beach has added security guards, or ambassadors, to patrol the city's center. They can even escort visitors to their car.
Soon the pilot program could become permanent.
On bicycles and on foot, at least two ambassadors patrol downtown Delray Beach seven days a week.
Eric Johnson said his duties range from answering questions, addressing panhandlers, or walking visitors or employees to their cars late at night.
“I enjoy helping people feel safe,” Johnson said.
Ryan Boylston chairs the Downtown Development Authority. It fast-tracked this pilot program in February after hearing success stories from other cities. The board wanted to test it during season.
Later this month, Boylston anticipates his board will take steps toward making the ambassadors a permanent fixture downtown. He said the board has money to expand the program in the near future, but may need private entities, like large developments, to contribute down the line.
“We really want to know what the perception of safety is when these ambassadors are around; how people feel when they're in our space,” Boylston explained.
Making the program permanent means expanding it from I-95 down Atlantic Avenue to the beach; covering North and South 1st Streets.
New downtown resident, Cherie Bresaud said seeing those yellow shirts downtown makes her feel safe.
“If I was out here and felt insecure and an ambassador asked to walk me to my car, yeah definitely would do that,” she admitted.
That option could may become a lot more common.