Crime & Justice

LA mayor names new gang czar

Guillermo Cespedes is the new gang czar in Los Angeles.
Guillermo Cespedes is the new gang czar in Los Angeles.
Frank Stoltze/KPCC

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Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa Tuesday named Guillermo Cespedes as his new director of youth development and gang reduction.

Cespedes helped develop the city's Summer Night Lights Program while working in Baldwin Village. The program employs at-risk kids to help their peers and keeps parks open late.

Cespedes was born in Cuba and grew up in New York City. He's taught in the African Studies Department at Cal State Dominguez Hills on the contributions of Africa's children throughout Latin America.

Cespedes' wife is Dominique DiPrima, who hosts a well known public affairs program that focuses on African-American issues on radio station KJLH. He replaces Jeff Carr, who’s been promoted to chief of staff for Villaraigosa. Cespedes explained how he sees his role:

Guillermo Cespedes: “I was probably about 11 or 12 when I first learned the concept of being a point guard in the tough playgrounds of New York City. And I was told that at that point a point guard’s job is to get the ball to the person who has the highest chance of scoring. He will take the tough shots when needed, but for the most part his job is to set up the team.”