Newark, NJ – January 17, 2024 – Mayor Ras J. Baraka announced today the appointment of LaKeesha Eure as Deputy Mayor of Public Safety. Simultaneously, he appointed Kyleesha Wingfield-Hill as Director of the Office of Violence Prevention and Trauma Recovery (OVPTR) and Jessiah Paul as Director of the Brick City Peace Collective (BCPC). The new roles become effective immediately.
“All three of these leaders have demonstrated the highest level of commitment to our city’s vision for peace, justice, safety and security, and have brought hope and healing to all Newark residents – especially those touched by violence and trauma,” Mayor Baraka said. “In a country starved for a common-sense, compassionate, approaches to public safety, Deputy Mayor Eure, Director Wingfield-Hill, and Director Paul have guided Newark to the forefront as a national model in reducing the causes, incidence, and effects of violence. I could not be prouder of them, or more grateful for their immense contribution to the wellbeing of our community.”
A native of Newark, Deputy Mayor Eure is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with more than two decades of experience in the field. Appointed the first Director of OVPTR, Ms. Eure’s guidance enabled the office and its public safety ecosystem to make significant strides in creating safer communities. OVPTR, with its collaborative network, has helped achieve a remarkable reduction in violent crime, bringing Newark’s crime statistics to levels not seen since the 1960s. As a staunch advocate for community investment, community policing, and police reform, she worked to create alternatives to traditional policing methods.
Having been directly affected by crime and violence herself, Ms. Eure was motivated to join the Newark Antiviolence Coalition and served as its Chair until 2022, providing support to affected families, educating the community on violence prevention, and mediating conflicts.
As deputy mayor at the intersection of public safety, public health, and municipal government, her new position will foster a pinpoint focus on community-based public safety strategies, protocols, systems, trainings, and investment sustainability, while allowing the state and federal networking necessary to share Newark’s policies, move legislation and garner appropriations funding.
“I am honored that Mayor Baraka has appointed me to this position, which will allow me more freedom to share what has worked in Newark with other cities in desperate need of a solution,” Deputy Mayor Eure said. “Our model treats public safety as a public health issue – appropriately combining hard data and science about the causes and symptoms, with a holistic, comprehensive and compassionate treatment for violence and trauma. I graciously congratulate both Kyleesha Wingfield-Hill and Jessiah Paul and will continue to work in full partnership as they take on new positions to further our city-wide mission.”
After earning her Bachelor’s Degree from Kean University and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Fairleigh Dickinson University, Ms. Wingfield-Hill served in an internship with the late Lieutenant Governor Sheila Oliver. She gained further experience in municipal government as a volunteer in the Orange Department of Recreation and Community Services and worked as Community Relations Specialist for Orange Mayor Dwayne D. Warren. She then joined the City of Newark’s Law Department, where she researched critical issues, which led her to becoming Mayor Baraka’s Policy Advisor, providing key policy analysis and recommendations to the Mayor.
Her collaborative efforts in her role as Executive Director of the Brick City Peace Collective (BCPC) has led to Newark’s recognition as a national model for reimagining public safety with initiatives that have achieved the lowest levels of homicides in 63 years.
“It is important to me to aid the mayor in creating a safer Newark for our residents, and I am ready to lead and bring his vision to fruition,” said Ms. Wingfield-Hill. “I am excited to work alongside Director Eure and Jessiah Paul to strengthen our relationship with law enforcement and community leaders to address violence as a public health crisis.”
Director Paul is a Newark native, who holds a Master’s Degree in Global Affairs from Rutgers University-Newark. Working for the City, he played a crucial role in establishing the Mayor’s Newark Office of Youth and College Affairs. His service there, particularly his participatory action research on chronic school absenteeism, displayed his dedication to tackling educational challenges in his community.
Mr. Paul’s journey continued with BCPC, where he supported key initiatives. His growing reputation as a community advocate and expert in public safety led to his involvement with Cities United, an organization focused on public safety, crime prevention, and intervention.
“I am thankful to God for the opportunity to serve the community and the people who live here to the best of my abilities,” said Director Paul. “Thank you to Mayor Baraka, Lakeesha Eure, and Kyleesha Wingfield-Hill for the lessons and development that was given. I am thrilled about this opportunity, which means at this level, there is a lot to learn. I intend to strive hard to strengthen the networks of the community ecosystem of public safety with law enforcement, by aiding and supporting my fellow colleagues, Deputy Mayor Eure, and Director Wingfield-Hill.”
All three newly-promoted leaders have made nationally-recognized contributions to Newark’s rise as an innovative pioneer in public safety. Their efforts resulted in the city being recognized last May by the Obama Foundation as one of only two cities in the nation identified as a My Brother’s Keeper Model Community for demonstrating an exemplary commitment to the last of its six milestones: Keeping All Youth Safe from Violent Crime.
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