Indian American Nishant Joshi Takes Over as Police Chief of Alameda in California

  • The former deputy chief of the Oakland Police Department, Joshi becomes the first U.S.-born Indian police chief in California.

Veteran law enforcement officer Nishant Joshi was sworn in June 7 as the new police chief of Alameda, California. Joshi, who had previously served with the Oakland, California, police department for more than 23 years, is said to be the first U.S.-born Indian police chief in California. Manjit Sappal, who became the police chief in Martinez, California, in 2015, was born in the U.K. His family moved to the United States when he was 8 to the San Francisco East Bay area. 

Joshi most recently worked as the deputy chief of the Oakland Police Department. He replaces interim Chief Randy Fenn, the former Fairfield police chief who filled in after Paul Rolleri retired after seven years in the position. 

“I am confident I can lead the Alameda Police Department to be a premier agency engaged in 21st century policing that prioritizes community expectations while honoring all residents and their life experiences,” Joshi said in a statement

New police chief of Alameda Nishant Joshi. Top photo, Joshi is seen with his wife Holly and their children, Jalen, 22, Jai, 15, and Aja, 11.

Joshi joins the department during a controversial time, when it is under fierce public scrutiny. A month and a half earlier, 26-year-old Oakland man Mario Gonzalez, stopped breathing as officers were taking him into custody on April 19 and pinned him facedown on the ground for several minutes. 

On May 25, Gonzalez’s family filed a claim against Alameda, saying Gonzalez died from the “use of excessive force, improper restraint, mechanical asphyxia, and positional restraint and compression asphyxia,” The Mercury News reported. “Gonzalez’s death sparked national news attention and local demonstrations, as well as demands to change how Alameda police interact with people,” the report said. The incident is still under investigation and an official cause of death for Gonzalez has not been released.

Alameda mayor told The Mercury News in an email on June 8 that Joshi “is the right person at the right time to lead the Alameda Police Department.”

Joshi told ABC 7 news that in one of his first actions as chief, he plans to provide the department with regular Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training, “which connects law enforcement with mental health providers to learn how to identify resources for those in crisis.”

Joshi has been working in the Oakland Police Department since 1998 and started as a deputy chief in February. Before that, he served as captain beginning in 2014. He earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from California State University Hayward, now California State University East Bay. He also earned a master’s degree in organizational leadership from Saint Mary’s College of California in Moraga. His leadership project was a collaborative study titled “Increasing Government Organizations’ Capacity to Deliver Exceptional Service.” 

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In 2016, Joshi also worked as an adjunct professor at Merritt College, providing college level instruction in Administration of Justice Department with a focus on community policing, as per his Linked page. 

He lives in Alameda with his wife, a former Oakland police sergeant. The couple has three children.

(Top photo: Nishant Joshi with his wife Holly and their children, Jalen, 22, Jai, 15, and Aja, 11.)

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