Rose Ochi '59

Posted On - January 8, 2021

Rose Ochi '59Rose Ochi '59, the first Asian American woman to serve as a Los Angeles Police Commission member and as an assistant U.S. attorney general, appointed to a presidential commission by Jimmy Carter and a member of the Clinton administration, passed away Dec. 13 at age 81, after being diagnosed with a second bout of COVID-19.

Three-year-old Rose Matsui and her family were imprisoned at the Rohwer detention camp in Arkansas during World War II, an ordeal that led to her lifelong commitment to fight for the underdog as an
advocate of civil rights, criminal justice reform and Japanese American causes.

After earning her bachelor's degree in physical education, Ochi taught at various schools, including her alma mater, Stevenson Junior High in East L.A. She earned a graduate degree in education at Cal State Los Angeles and, inspired by the 1968 East L.A. walkouts by Latino students demanding equal education — and seeking a better way to bring about social change — a law degree from Loyola Law School in 1972. She would eventually lead the mayor's criminal justice office and spend 20 years helping to develop programs to reduce gang violence and working on community policing, drug abatement, domestic violence and diversifying the Los Angeles Police Department’s officer ranks.

In 1995, Ochi joined the Clinton administration to work on drug enforcement and two years later was named an assistant attorney general to head the Department of Justice’s community relations service office, which focused on race relations.

Read the full L.A. Times obituary.

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