In an attempt to streamline operations and provide better service to merchants and those living or visiting downtown, a new command center has opened with the sole purpose of answering and routing calls to the Downtown Santa Monica Ambassador Program.
The command center will be staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week and can be reached by dialing the ambassador hotline - 310.877.7731.The center serves as a base of operations for quality of life ambassadors who are specially trained to help downtown's unsheltered population.
"Previously calls would go directly to a cell phone handled by a team lead and that effectively took that person out of the field," said Nick Efron, director of operations and public space for Downtown Santa Monica, Inc. "By hiring and training dispatchers we can deploy our ambassadors where they are needed most and free up the rest of the team to be a presence on the street."
Dispatchers are either former ambassadors or have experience working as a dispatcher at another entity. They received several weeks of intense training so they are prepared to handle a variety of situations.
DTSM, Inc. will monitor and evaluate the program, with the goal of shortening response times and tracking incidents from start to finish.
In addition to the command center, DTSM, Inc. doubled the number of quality of life ambassadors to four.
Before launching the command center, DTSM, Inc. staff and a representative from the Santa Monica Police Department toured a similar center in Minneapolis to learn best practices.
DTSM, Inc. spends roughly $4.5 million a year on the ambassador program. Currently there are 75 ambassadors on staff. Ambassadors do everything from clean restrooms in public parking structures, take photos for visitors, help residents find certain stores, engage and assist those experiencing homelessness, remove graffiti and monitor nearby parks.