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Minneapolis director of violence prevention announces departure

Josh Peterson, who's been with the Office of Violence Prevention from the beginning, will serve as the interim director until the position is filled.

MINNEAPOLIS — The Office of Violence Prevention in Minneapolis, under the direction of Sasha Cotton, will soon have a new leader. 

"I have accepted a new position, yes," answered Cotton. 

Cotton will now become the deputy director for the National Network of Safe Communities at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

"It's one of the leading entities focusing on violence prevention and criminal justice reform in the country," explained Cotton. 

It's a move coming at a time when efforts made by the OVP have been contributing to a slow but steady decline in violent crimes, according to data from the city's dashboard. 

There have been 202 gunshot-wound victims citywide year-to-date, compared to 238 at this same time last year. 

Robberies are also down from 700 to 643 this time last year, while domestic aggravated assaults and vehicle thefts are up. 

"We've got some phenomenal leaders here in the office of violence prevention who are going to help fill the gaps in my absence and make sure that the work is seamless and continues to serve Minneapolis residents and communities," said Cotton. 

Part of that work will continue to involve community response teams like "We Push for Peace" and the "Agape Movement," while the mayor initiates an overhaul of the city's government structure. 

"Which will provide a comprehensive approach to public safety," said Mayor Jacob Frey. He went on to say, "We're increasing the scope of the work; we're certainly increasing the prestige, which is probably long overdue and we're on the right track here."

A track leading some onto a new venture. 

"The timing is challenging. There's never a good time, but I think as the city of Minneapolis in particular starts to think about a transition and there's some new developments happening around government structure, the timing is right," said Cotton. 

Cotton will remain in her current role until July 15 and Josh Peterson, who's been with the Office of Violence Prevention from the beginning, will serve as the interim director until the position is filled.

The city plans to conduct a nationwide search for its new director.

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