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Oakland's new chief for Department of Violence Prevention has deep ties to the city

New chief of Oakland's Department of Violence Prevention appointed
New chief of Oakland's Department of Violence Prevention appointed 03:27

OAKLAND -- Oakland has a new chief for its Department of Violence Prevention who has more than a decade of experience working in the city to reduce crime.

In front of her own childhood school, Dr. Holly Joshi was announced as the new chief of Violence Prevention. The job brings her back to a city where she spent 14 years with law enforcement.   

"In 1950, fleeing the Jim Crow south, my family bought a house five blocks from here. I attended this elementary school. My dad and my auntie attended the elementary school," said Joshi. "I worked at the Oakland police department from 2001 to 2015. I held jobs in patrol, the crime reduction team, investigations. I ran a child exploitation unit."

Just as the event was wrapping up, a familiar face came by wondering what was going on. KPIX has talked to local activist Ken Houston before, and reported on his efforts to rally community members against crime by pushing back against illegal dumping,

He was working collecting tires from streets on Monday when he drove by. He immediately approved of Joshi's appointment.

"When I heard it was Holly that was spearheading this...Holly is a good person," explained Houston. "She's solid. She thinks about the children, the community. She's been around, she knows the terrain. And you can approach her.."

The new DVP chief comes with community connections, for what she acknowledged is a critical time for Oakland. 

"I've been a part of a team and in administration in the city in the past that has had significant violent crime reductions," Joshi said. "And I'm excited to bring my skills and my passion and my understanding of how to support families that are at the center of violence to this work."

The appointment of Joshi fills a void left by the departure of Oakland's first chief of the Department of Violence Prevention.  Guillermo Cespedes was hired for the job in 2020, but took a similar job as the Los Angeles Deputy Mayor of Community Safety early this year. 

When asked where she would start with a job like this, Joshi said the answer is coming in and taking a look at what's being done, what's working and what's not working and going from there. Her first day as the DVP chief will be December 11th.

Oakland still remains without a chief to the city's police department since the suspension and subsequent firing of LeRonne Armstrong earlier this year by Mayor Sheng Thao.

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