Oakland Appoints First Violence Prevention Chief

Oakland City Administrator Sabrina Landreth announced on Thursday that she has appointed Guillermo Cespedes to be the city's first permanent chief of violence prevention.

Landreth said Cespedes is an expert in domestic and international violence prevention and began his career by working with families at Eden Children's Center in San Leandro, the Spanish Speaking Citizen's Foundation in Oakland's Fruitvale district, Children's Hospital Oakland and Vista Community College, which is now called Berkeley City College.

In 2000 Cespedes moved to the Los Angeles area, where he co-founded Summer of Success, a gang violence reduction strategy in South Los Angeles that resulted in an 82 percent reduction in homicides its first summer and 34 percent reduction its second summer, according to Landreth.

In 2009, Cespedes was appointed Deputy Mayor and Director of the Mayor's Office of Gang Reduction and Youth Development in Los Angeles, a role in which he co-authored a citywide strategy for reducing violence.

In 2012 the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) signed an agreement with the City of Los Angeles to export some of the practices co-authored by Cespedes to Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.

In 2016, Cespedes moved to Honduras to guide the implementation of a family systems-based violence prevention program funded by USAID.

Landreth said Cespedes has adapted a similar family systems-based approach to violence prevention in Tunisia, North Africa, El Salvador, St. Lucia, St. Kitts, Nevis and Guyana.

The Oakland City Council created the city's Department of Violence Prevention to better align, amplify and elevate Oakland's violence prevention efforts.

Landreth said the department' mission is to work directly with victims of violent crime, and those who are most likely to be future victims or perpetrators of violent crime, in order to dramatically reduce violent crime.

She said it also serves communities impacted by violence to end the cycle of trauma by using a public health approach and community-led strategies.

"I am honored and very excited to return to Oakland to join professional colleagues, community advocates, and elected officials in building a balanced, comprehensive violence prevention strategy," Cespedes said in a statement

Cespedes said, "I will draw on my experience in leading proven efforts domestically and internationally, but Oakland is unique and it will require building on what is already working and being honest about what has to be improved."

Cespedes will begin his new role on September 23.

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