SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) – Mayor Ben Walsh has appointed a Syracuse pastor as the city’s new head of the Office to Reduce Gun Violence.

Lateef Johnson-Kinsey, a pastor at The Well of Hope Church, was selected on Friday to lead the office.

In addition to his role as Senior Pastor, he is the Dean of Students at Syracuse Academy of Science. As Dean of Students, he assists in behavioral, cultural, and athletic department support for students, staff, and parents, and works alongside other school personnel to provide the best possible opportunities for student growth and development — both educationally and personally.

The office itself was created by Mayor Walsh and announced during his State of the City Address in January to combat the rising gun violence numbers.

Johnson-Kinsey will coordinate the City’s various anti-gun violence initiatives, support community-based intervention and prevention services, and facilitate data-driven and evidence-based solutions to reduce gun violence.

“We have community partners in this room that are engaging with those most at risk everyday and we could not do that work without them,” Mayor Walsh said.

“But we need somebody that can have a presence in all of these different rooms, in all of these different circles to be just as comfortable walking into the public safety building as they are walking down any block in Syracuse and engaging with those most at risk and again we feel like we found that person in Lateef Johnson-Kinsey.”

The position is one that Johnson-Kinsey says he believes he is in a unique position to hold because of his experience.

“I have family that I lost,” he said, “when I first got here, I lost a couple of family members to homicide.”

“So with me, it was the impact to my family and being born and raised here, and other families that were hurt by homicides that were going on.”

Johnson-Kinsey swill begin his new role on Wednesday, April 13, 2022.