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He Was A Black Man Man Who Hated Cops Until He Became One—On LA's Notorious Skid Row

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb
The Truth Network Radio
May 22, 2023 3:00 am

He Was A Black Man Man Who Hated Cops Until He Became One—On LA's Notorious Skid Row

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb

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May 22, 2023 3:00 am

On this episode of Our American Stories, Deon Joseph transformed his thinking one time after another on his journey to serve and protect on Skid Row. He transformed the thinking, and the life outcomes, of many people there, starting when he parked his cruiser on the curb... and stayed all day.

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Visit ILYPet.com and use the code ILY25 for 25% off. Also available at Amazon, Safeway, and Walmart. This is Lee Habib, and this is Our American Stories, the show where America is the star and the American people. Our next storyteller is a law enforcement consultant, author, and active senior lead officer in Los Angeles. And by the way, all week long, we're celebrating officers, and officers are also following in the line of duty. It's National Police Week, so thank an officer for their service, and when you get the chance. We'll let him introduce himself.

Let's take a listen. I'm Dion Joseph. I am a 27-year veteran of law enforcement.

My primary assignment is working in the Skid Row area of downtown Los Angeles, working with the homeless. Been doing so for about 25 years. It's ended up being my calling.

The reason it became my calling was kind of weird. I, A, never wanted to be a police officer. I was raised to, not raised, or indoctrinated by friends and activist groups that I ran with that the police were basically my natural mortal enemy. And, you know, a couple of times I was racially profiled didn't help when I was a civilian. Then came the Rodney King incident. And the Rodney King incident, on top of the insults and injury of those officers getting off for doing that horrible act that they engaged in, really, really had a negative impact on me, so I suffered from what's called availability bias. The only thing that was being shown or told to me about police officers was negative.

My favorite rap groups were Public Enemy, NWA, KRS-One. And everything they said was, either F the police, or the police were beasts, they were monsters who were trying to exterminate black people. And I bought into it.

I bought into it. And what happened was, my father and mother, they founded the first black-owned restaurant in the city of Long Beach. Literally, they were history makers. And their goal was to try to employ and empower the community. And it worked. He had a successful construction business.

He was giving guys second chances who couldn't get chances because of their criminal record and whatnot. And when we started that restaurant and that shopping center, it was pretty successful. And then the riots hit.

And after the riots, our construction company suffered because not a lot of people wanted to hire a black-owned company as one of the fallouts of the so-called rebellion. And I was out of work for about, I want to say about three or four months. No paycheck. And I had just met the most beautiful woman in the world, my beautiful wife, Tasha. And of course, you don't want to be a deadbeat.

You want to be able to support and take care of your future wife. So I put my name in the hats of many jobs, many jobs. And not one called me. And then I had a friend and an uncle, an uncle who was on the police force. And he says, hey, our department is hiring.

Why don't you put your name in that hat? And I was like, that police force? Uh-uh.

I just, I saw what they did to write the King. I'm not going to do this. I will never be with that department. And things got worse for me. And finally, I just said, you know what?

Go ahead and put your name in the hat and see what happens. And if they call me, I felt like I was going to do like three years and quit and go finish college or something like that and or do something else. So anyway, I was praying and praying and praying for other jobs to call me. And the only one that called me was my current agency. And I'll never forget when I got the letter, I was in my mom's restaurant. And three of my childhood friends, people who have known me for years, are sitting at a table eating some short ribs and chicken. And I told my mom, I said, Mom, I passed. I made it. And she started celebrating.

And she was saying, my son's going to be a police officer. All three of my friends looked at me. I won't call them friends.

I'll call them associates. Looked at my friends would never desert me. Looked at me, stood up, walked out of the restaurant and wanted nothing to do with me anymore. And I couldn't believe it. I hadn't even put on the badge yet. But it was it was affecting my, quote unquote, blackness, so to speak. You know, as we're in the age of identity politics, you know, there's a certain way you have to identify yourself as a black man. And I guess they didn't see me as a black man anymore. They saw me as the enemy and I hadn't even put on a uniform yet.

So nonetheless, I was raised not to really care about what people thought about me. I had a goal. I wanted to take care of my wife and I wanted to get married and be a good supporter. And I joined.

And I was before joining. I'll never forget my wife's side of the family. They didn't have a very good relationship with the police.

In fact, it was horrendous. You know, you talking about police officers back in the 70s, kidnapping my mother in law and and driving around a block, threatening to hurt her. You know, cousins of theirs who were shot, you know, unarmed and things of that nature. They were not fans of the police. So I kept getting it from all sides, you know, from my mother in law side. It was don't let those, quote unquote, white boys change you. Don't let those white boys change you.

Here's what they did to me back in 1960. This and everything was past tense. Everything was past tense and it was scaring me. It was scaring me. And of course, my dad, he was a little disappointed at first that I joined because, of course, every father wants his son to continue the legacy of the business.

But that just wasn't for me. So he was telling me, you know, you know, about all the horror stories that my uncle saw on the job. And all these things were swirling in my mind. So I'll never forget. It was the Christmas Christmas night. I proposed to my wife.

She said, yes, thank God. And the next morning, December 26, 1995, I was standing in what's called the black line. It was a tradition in the police academy that when you're on your first day at the academy, all applicants have to stand on a black line. And basically what happens is they're testing your will. They're testing you. You have your instructors yelling at you and barking at you, seeing if you had the temperament or the you know, to be a police officer. And I think we had several of my classmates quit.

And the whole time I'm thinking, I know these guys are about to call me the N-word. It never happened. Never happened.

In the academy, 90 percent of what we learned was more about human relations and Spanish than how to keep our heads from being blown off our shoulders. That's how crazy it was. It's like it was complete opposite or juxtaposed to what my family and friends were telling me. And I was surprised at how open they allowed me to be. I was able to share how many African-Americans felt about the police and my experiences with the police. And no one shunned me.

They listened. And it was really a great experience. I actually helped. It actually helped me break down stereotypes that I had of my white classmates and the other classmates I had.

So but that didn't cure me yet. And you're listening to Dion Joseph, a senior lead officer in Los Angeles, share his story, his early resentment and partially well-earned of the police he had had encounters that weren't good. And but my goodness, what he was learning as he was becoming an officer about his friends and himself and his fellow officers.

Well, it was a learning experience for everyone. When we come back, more of Dion Joseph's story here on Our American Stories. Here at Our American Stories, we bring you inspiring stories of history, sports, business, faith and love. Stories from a great and beautiful country that need to be told.

But we can't do it without you. Our stories are free to listen to, but they're not free to make. If you love our stories and America like we do, please go to our American stories dot com and click the donate button. Give a little.

Give a lot. Help us keep the great American stories coming. That's our American stories dot com. The 2023 NFL schedule powered by AWS is officially out. And individual tickets are now on sale. That's every epic showdown, every classic rivalry, every primetime game.

Seventeen games for all 32 teams. Visit NFL dot com slash tickets to purchase tickets to NFL Ticket Network, Ticketmaster and SeatGeek, the only trusted marketplaces for NFL tickets. In Denver, a girl's getaway to the city comes with a side of Rocky Mountains. Shopping in Cherry Creek turns into delicious Larimer Square eats. Sunny days in Wash Park lead to sizzling nights in River North and a concert at Red Rocks means dancing with a view. When you're planning your girl's trip, come to the intersection of life and however you like living it. Denver always welcome. Plan your getaway at visit Denver dot com slash summer sponsored by Visit Denver. Want to get away but still listen to your favorite radio stations and podcasts?

Then listen up. I heart radio is now the onboard music partner on select Southwest flights. That means you can jam out to your favorite local radio station, even if you're flying coast to coast. Check out expertly curated stations that are perfect for kids and adults available on most domestic Southwest flights and perfect for a full nonstop or those pesky minutes between a movie ending and your plane touching down.

So grab your headphones, raise your tray table and relax with I heart radio and Southwest Airlines. And we continue with our American stories and with senior lead officer in Los Angeles, Deon Joseph. Let's continue where we last left off. Then I ended up graduating from the academy and I ended up in the field in Venice Beach. And I'll never forget my first training officer was basically abusive to me. He was very, very cruel. His his whole mantra was it's my job not to hire you to get you fired.

And basically I was this close to getting fired. And my second training officer was a department legend. His name was Bill Snowden. And I they told me to study up on him and I pulled some of his police reports and I'm looking at this guy. He made twenty three hundred arrests in a black neighborhood called Oakwood. I'm like, oh, my God, I'm about to work with this guy, a white guy who was arrested.

Twenty three hundred black people in a small part of this beach. And I was like all the things my family was telling me and all the things they put in my heart, you know, was like swelling up inside me. I was scared. So finally I meet the man and we get in the car and I work with him and I couldn't. He drove me over to Oakwood where he patrols.

And it was the strangest thing. I'm driving through the area with this six foot four blonde hair, blue eyed white guy with a big old mustache. Right. The stereotypical vision of what people would think a racist cop would look like. And as he's driving through the community, I'm hearing this. Hey, snow. Hey, God bless you, Snowden. Hey, thanks for helping my cousin Snowden. Oh, my God.

Hey, thanks for helping my cousin while he was in jail. So I'm sitting here like, what the hell is this? You know, is this guy scaring the community so bad that they just smile away? I thought it was an episode of The Godfather or something like that. It was weird. And he saw the look on my face and he said he pulled the car over, says you got something on your mind. I was like, sir, I don't understand it. You're in a black community. You arrested half the people here and their mother.

Why do these people love you? And he said this. He said, Dion, this is Oakwood.

It's one of the most violent areas in the city. You know, I'm not here because these people are black. I'm here because I'm not.

People die. These people understand why we're here. But what they also want you to do is whether you're arresting them or counseling them or whatever, you make sure you treat them with dignity and respect.

That's all they want from us. And he said, as long as you work for me, young man, you will treat everyone we contact with dignity and respect. And I was like, whoo, thank God. Another stereotype was completely broken down that my family was feeding me. And it really, really helped me break my tunnel vision about, you know, groups of people, you know, especially white police officers. So and it wasn't that he was giving me permission to do that. I already knew that that was a cop I wanted to be. It was just good to know that an officer of his stature, this legend, this department legend believed in the same thing I believed in. And it was a pleasure working with this man. And after my probation was up, he literally saved my career. I graduated from probation and ended up at Central Division. Central Division is where Skid Row is.

Now, I wasn't really excited about going to Skid Row at all. I remember one of my training officers telling me, said, Dion, you have to wear a body condom to work there. The people have hepatitis, AIDS, HIV. They got needles in their pocket.

You're going to get in their use of force and get stuck with a needle and give your wife the herpes. And I was like, oh, my God. At the time, I was a germaphobe. I would like wear five gloves to search people, you know.

This is who I was. And and it really scared me. And then he also said the cops, they're also fat and lazy. They just let people do anything they want to do over there. I was like, what?

Oh, man. So I get on a freeway and I'm driving. It's a hot summer day.

I think it's in June or July. And I'm looking at the beautiful picturesque L.A. skyline. And I'm like, this can't be that bad. Look, the bank towers over there. Look at all these skyscrapers and can't be that bad. I get off on Sixth Street. And as I get off on Sixth Street, I'm at the basin of the West Coast symbol of America's economic power. And I'm seeing people in business suits.

I'm seeing people drinking coffee, smoking cigarettes, getting ready to go for work. And I said, what is my training officer talking about? This is great. Now, you know, if you get to some bad places, it's like about a mile and a half stretch of territory that kind of warned you first. You were now entering Hoodville.

Get ready. This did not happen here. As soon as I crossed Spring Street, I'll never forget. It was like I tripped and fell into Dante's Inferno, Mad Max Thunderdome, Water World, any natural disaster move.

I think an airplane fell from the sky. It was just really that bad. I'll never forget the smells. I remember seeing people having sex on the sidewalk. I remember seeing people shooting up and smoking crack right two blocks from a police station in broad daylight. I remember trash piled so high that it came up to your knees, tents rocking, people arguing in the street. And I remember the saddest thing I saw was a young man in a hospital gown walking in the middle of the street talking to himself.

Clearly, he was mentally ill and had been thrown away. And I said to myself, God, I can't fix this. I'm going to put my transfer in as soon as I get into the station. I get into the station and sure enough, it was the same thing. The same things I smelled and saw on the outside was inside sitting on the bench waiting to get transported to jail.

I'm seeing parolees, gang members, homeless people, mentally ill people handcuffed to the bench, yelling, screaming, headbutting each other, set tripping. And I'm like, wow. And I'm noticing the officers are just typing like nothing's happening. And I look at one of my classmates. I'm like, do you see what the hell is happening here? And she just lit some incense and kept on talking. I was like, what?

What happened? And I get upstairs and I'm like, I'm going to put my transfer in, I'm going to put my transfer in. And there was a sergeant who used to call us all Hermano or brother in Spanish.

He said, hey, Hermano, you're Officer Joseph. Hey, your first two months is going to be spent working the front desk of Central Station. And I was like, oh, thank God. God answered my prayers. I was like, oh, I don't have to deal with this crap. Two months of breaking the front desk.

I was wrong at the front desk and it was the first of the month. And every five, 10 to 20 minutes, somebody came in from Skid Row with their arm broken backwards where they could swing it 45 degrees the other way. One lady came in with her cheeks lacerated. It's like she had a second mouth. You could see her teeth.

Another man walked into the station holding a stomach and moves his hand and his intestines fall out. And I couldn't believe what I was seeing. And the common thread with all of these people were I don't want a police report.

I just want an ambulance to take me to the hospital. I have to live here because what I didn't realize or what I did realize was the station was in the heart of where Skid Row. I also discovered the cops there weren't fat and lazy.

They were just working in a time where the justice system didn't support their efforts. Kind of what we're living in right now. So I'm like, man, get me off this front desk. I can't take it. And then I get my first basic patrol car and it was Chinatown, like Chinatown.

Yes. Culture, people in the park stretching and doing Tai Chi and great eating spots. And I'm telling you, it was beautiful. Your blood pressure went down just parking there, right? And I'm about to write my first ticket.

I was there only five minutes about to write my first ticket at Alpine in the off, I remember correctly. And we get a call when they want to respond to 7th and San Julian for the attack in progress. Back then, attack meant rape, sexual assault. So we're driving like bats out of hell to get down there. And sure enough, we get there and there's a woman sitting with her legs crossed, rocking back and forth.

She was literally torn to shreds, face messed up, bleeding, skirt torn, and people were standing around her, mocking her. And I get out of the car and I tried to talk to her and she wouldn't talk to me. And all I hear are these gang members, excuse my French, saying, oh, that ain't going to talk to you. Oh, you what you want.

You must be new here. Get your back in the car, man. She ain't gonna tell you nothing. And literally, she told me nothing. I had to take a Jane Doe assault report, call her an ambulance. And that was that. And I couldn't believe what I saw.

So my partner says, let's not go back here today. And you're listening to active senior lead officer in Los Angeles, Dion Joseph, share the story of his life and his work in Los Angeles as a police officer. And that first assignment in Venice Beach. Well, I can only describe that neighborhood is sketchy. I was there at around the same time he was.

I was living there and it's much different now, but it was sketchy and dangerous and still can be late at night. And there was that training officer who he reported to. Well, we've all had people we've had to report to that were, let's just say people we hoped to never report to again. And then came his training officer in Oakwood, who fit the stereotype of what he thought, well, white racist cops look like tall, blonde, blue eyes and a mustache. Only the black people he was serving in that neighborhood loved him and they loved him for a simple reason. He was there to serve them. He kept telling him again and again that he wasn't just there to treat the people with dignity who didn't commit crimes, but to even commit to the principle that the perps and the suspects themselves deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. And then came Skid Row and Chinatown.

When we come back, more of the story of Deon Joseph here on Our American Story. The 2023 NFL schedule powered by AWS is officially out and individual tickets are now on sale. That's every epic showdown, every classic rivalry, every primetime game, 17 games for all 32 teams.

Visit NFL dot com slash tickets to purchase tickets through NFL Ticket Network, Ticketmaster and SeatGeek, the only trusted marketplaces for NFL tickets. In Denver, a girl's getaway to the city comes with a side of Rocky Mountains. Shopping in Cherry Creek turns into delicious Larimer Square eats. Sunny days in Wash Park lead to sizzling nights in River North and a concert at Red Rocks means dancing with a view.

When you're planning your girl's trip, come to the intersection of life and however you like living it. Denver always welcome playing your getaway at visit Denver dot com slash summer sponsored by Visit Denver. Want to get away but still listen to your favorite radio stations and podcasts?

Then listen up. I heart radio is now the onboard music partner on select Southwest flights. That means you can jam out to your favorite local radio station even if you're flying coast to coast. Check out expertly curated stations that are perfect for kids and adults available on most domestic Southwest flights and perfect for a full nonstop. Or those pesky minutes between a movie ending and your plane touching down.

So grab your headphones, raise your tray table and relax with I heart radio and Southwest Airlines. And we continue with our American stories and with law enforcement consultant, author and active senior lead officer in Los Angeles, Deon Joseph. Let's pick up where we last left off. We get back to Chinatown and once again, doo doo, we get to 5th and San Julian for an ADW in progress. We get there and first we're wondering where the basic car for that area is and they're tied up with three people they arrested.

It's kind of a picture of how dangerous it was down there. We get to 5th and San Julian and I see a man sitting holding his chest on the sidewalk. And sure enough, somebody stabbed him and punctured his lung and he points down the street to the man who did it. And I was like, the guy was walking like he wasn't running away. So I call the ambulance for him to go to detain this guy. And I'll never forget him saying to me, oh, why are you so hard up?

I'm going to be out in about two days. DA is going to reject this case. Now, I know he's not. I went to the station because one thing I can't stand is when you hurt people who are poor or downtrodden, you know, as part of my DNA. So I went to this station and I wrote the world's greatest police report. And I struggled because I was from a unified school district that really didn't give a crap about me, right? I literally had an English teacher that said, yeah, all you got to do is put your name on the paper and we'll give you a C. And I did that, taking the easy way out. So to this day, I still struggle with dangling participles and antecedents and, you know, as a result of not trying.

That's my fault, not his. Anyway, I sat down and wrote the greatest police report in the world. Dotted every I, crossed every T, colons everywhere, quotations in the right place. It was beautiful. Gave it to the watch commander and his watch commander, we call him the red pen, and he would keep a red pen.

And for new officers, he would just completely rip up their reports because he was an English major. And I think I saw a tear in his eyes. He said, Joseph, this is the world's greatest police report.

I'm exaggerating, of course. And I was like, thank you, sir. Took the guy to jail and I just knew that I was going to get a victim, a homeless victim, some justice. I came back two days later, I'm driving down the street, and I guess who I see?

The bald head guy who stabbed him. And he looked at me and said, I told you, I was upset, I was livid. I went into the detective's office and I said, hey, I wrote the hell out of that report. And the detective said, you sure did, Officer Joseph, it was a great report. And she showed me the disposition of the district attorney's office.

And it says, D.A. reject because the victim is a drug addict and because they're homeless. I would ask anybody, does that sound fair to you? And the answer is absolutely not.

You know, justice should not be dealt to people who we believe are perfect people. You know, it's for everybody. And that was a moment that changed my life. You always find a catalyst. And that was my catalyst for why I decided to kind of stay and be a champion on top of my DNA. The reason why people thought I was crazy for being in Skid Row enthusiastically, right, was because of my parents. My parents were engaged in outreach their entire life, their 47 year marriage. They helped raise 41 foster children on top of their four children and three grandchildren.

So I was around for about 17 and those kids. And you would think I would have a little resentment for not getting 100 percent of my parents love. But no, it was actually wonderful to see my parents change these kids lives, whether they were with us for two weeks or for two years. And the cool thing about my parents, it wasn't just about the kids. They would often sneak and counsel the parents so the parents would end up being better parents when the kids finally went back to them.

And I'll never forget, we took in kids who are sexually assaulted, homeless, neglected, malnourished. We even took home a neo-Nazi and this kid's father told him, don't eat the N-words food. I'm going to come sneak a Big Mac to you. And I couldn't believe it.

Right. So the father never came with that Big Mac. So after about the third or fourth day, I think the kid got hungry and we caught him in the refrigerator sneaking some collard greens and black eyed peas. And it was delicious. And he didn't buy. He realized that the N-words foods are not going to kill you.

Right. And after about another month with us, he saw he thought he was black. He was like, man, you know, we got pulled over by the police and this kid was like, you just thought this could be black.

And we're all like, no, no, no, no, no, no. I'll never forget that. It was a road trip to Louisiana.

It was hilarious. And he didn't want to go back to his own dad. He ended up thankfully being sent to his mother, who wasn't a neo-Nazi.

And just watching my parents change the life of these kids was incredible to me. Then my dad, he was a self-made man, grew up in the Jim Crow South, dealt with real tangible racism. Not this transferred racism that we're dealing with today. We've got kids today acting like they've lived through Jim Crow and they don't they have no idea what what real tangible, palpable cross burning you sit on the back of the bus.

Racism is life. My dad grew up in that. And because of being so poor and so broke, being abandoned by his family at times, he turned to crying. And of course, he changed his life, found the Lord. I met my mom in church or actually fell in love with my mom in church. They met at a hospital and basically he said I was never going to hurt anybody again to get what I needed.

So when he became a successful businessman, he would always reach back and hire individuals who reminded him of himself. And I didn't know this. I was going through my background investigations with the department. And they, of course, one of the questions they ask is, have you ever associated with any known felons? And of course, I was telling the truth.

No squeaky clean. You guys check me out. You guys talk to my fourth grade teacher. What the hell? You know this, right?

And turns out my dad says, sorry, son, you did. I said, what are you talking about? He said, you remember Cowboy the Framer? Yeah. Oh, he is an ex-murderer.

What? You remember Andre, the guy you dig ditches with? I was like, yeah, he was a drug dealer.

And I was like, what? But I calmed down when I realized the beauty of what my dad did. He gave people a second chance who reminded him of himself. And if they wanted that second chance, he was going to help them. He believed in hands up, not hands out. He believed in hands up, giving people a hand up.

So watching this inspired me. And I loved he never called his employees, his employees. He always called them his friends.

And I was like, amazed by this. And you'll never hear me call a person in Skid Row a bum, a hobo, a transient. I will always call them my friends, even if they're cussing me out.

I will always call them my friends. And then lastly, my mother and father fed the homeless religiously every Saturday, cooking fresh home cooked meals as if she was cooking for her family and taking it down to parks and helping families. And she did that up until she got sick and passed away. So after about three months of being in Skid Row, all fears went away. And I realized that I was home.

This is what my parents were preparing me for. And all I was doing was in my own way, carrying out their mission. And I fell in love with trying to help and change the culture of Skid Row as a patrol cop.

I loved the community then just as much as I did now. I just went about it differently. I arrested everybody and their mother.

That's what I did. If you were selling crack, if you were assaulting people, if you murdered somebody, I'm going to drive up and I'm going to stuff you in the back of my car along with several of your friends if I can. And that's a noble effort. There's nothing wrong with that. Nothing racist or cold about that. You know, you break the law, you've got to do the time. But what it did was it kind of left, it gave me a perception problem to the community because I didn't have time to stop and say what I was doing or why because I was so busy.

It was just like I'm just here to arrest black people. So I ended up getting one of many names at the time, Robocop. I have many names.

So the first name was Uncle Tom, a house Negro, white man's boot licking lapdog. I heard that one right. The combinations were just incredible. Then came Robocop because they I walk like a robot. I had all this gear on me and it's like you couldn't get away from me.

I knew every crevice of the area. And you're listening to Dion Joseph tell one heck of a story, not just about himself, not just about the people he defends and calls his friends, those people on Skid Row, but also the model that his family provided for him, adopting so many people whose society would cast off. And you know, here on this show, we tell stories about people whose society casts off. But great people, particularly people of faith, well, give a second chance and give a real second chance. A hand up, not a hand out.

And they're very different things. And you could hear it in Dion Joseph's voice and even a chuckle explaining the difference between a hand up and a hand out. When we come back, more of this remarkable story. It's a story about so many things, but in the end, about grace and love behind a badge.

The story of Dion Joseph continues here on Our American Stories. NFL Ticket Network, Ticketmaster and SeatGeek, the only trusted marketplaces for NFL tickets. In Denver, a girl's getaway to the city comes with a side of Rocky Mountains. Shopping in Cherry Creek turns into delicious Larimer Square eats. Sunny days in Wash Park lead to sizzling nights in River North. And a concert at Red Rocks means dancing with a view. When you're planning your girl's trip, come to the intersection of life and however you like living it. Denver, always welcome. Plan your getaway at visitdenver.com slash summer. Sponsored by Visit Denver. Want to get away but still listen to your favorite radio stations and podcasts?

Then listen up. I Heart Radio is now the onboard music partner on select Southwest flights. That means you can jam out to your favorite local radio station, even if you're flying coast to coast. Check out expertly curated stations that are perfect for kids and adults. Available on most domestic Southwest flights and perfect for a full nonstop or those pesky minutes between a movie ending and your plane touching down.

So grab your headphones, raise your tray table and relax with I Heart Radio and Southwest Airlines. And we continue with our American stories and law enforcement consultant, author and active senior lead officer in Los Angeles. Deon Joseph. Let's continue with the story. So then after about seven years in the street and in two years undercover. We're going to talk about what happened in Los Angeles. We're going to talk about what happened in Los Angeles.

We're going to talk about what happened in Los Angeles. So then after about seven years in the street and in two years undercover, I got the opportunity to become a senior lead officer, another job I didn't want. So I became a senior lead officer and, you know, I didn't want to smile, wave and kiss babies. I wanted to go back to doing what I was usually doing, fighting back crime and getting bad guys off the street.

But I was doing the same thing and expecting the same results, different results. And I looked back on all the arrests I made and all the actions I took to try to make the community better. And nothing changed because that once again, the justice system for every bad guy put in jail, they were out the next day and they were replaced by two more. So something I'll never forget. And I don't mean to preach, but I'm sitting on Main Street, frustrated.

Main Street was one of the most dangerous streets at the time. And I'm parked there and I'm seeing drug dealers, drug deals happening all over the place, right in front of my face. And I said, I just parked my car and said a prayer. I said, God, how can I fix this?

You know, these people are suffering. What can I do? And all I heard in my spirit was, stay here. OK, I parked my car there for six hours. And what happened was the drug dealers, what they expected me to do is park a few minutes and leave. But I stayed there for six hours. It was so funny because drug dealers kept coming up to my car going, hey, any time for you to do something else, any time for you to go home? And something told me, I said, I am home.

And they were like, wow. So I left for about three quarters of them came back. I came back, parked for another hour.

They left. Now it was a half. I kept doing it until it was like no drug dealers on the block. And I did this for a week.

I call it the sit down technique. And about seven days after doing it, I saw this man come up to me. There's something called a silent majority in any community. These are the people who they support police.

They support law and order, but they have a figurative and literal gun to their head telling them not to talk to the police, even if you get stabbed, raped or shot. And this man knocks on my window and I think he's going to be another drug dealer asking me to leave. And I rolled down the window and he says, hey, I don't know who you are, but don't you ever leave this block?

This is the first time I've been able to walk down this street in about 15 years. It worked. And I said, OK, it's working on this block.

So let me switch to the next block. So I called it the sit down technique and it started to reduce crime. I was reducing crime by myself and I reduced crime 18 percent with no resources. And people couldn't believe it. They couldn't believe that Main Street was clean.

Winston Street was clean. Some parts of Fifth Street were getting clean. It was crazy, but I couldn't do it for long.

A lot of people focus on me, but I couldn't do it myself. So as I was starting to lose ground, God sent some incredible officers to help me hold down Main Street and the streets that I took care of until the Safer Cities Initiative. And that's when 50 incredible officers were brought to the division to focus on Skid Row and help reduce crime. And while they went on the offensive, I went on the defensive and tried to build relationships to let the community know that we're not doing this to you. We're doing this for you because we had activists in the area who were actively telling them that we were trying to get rid of them. We wanted to criminalize them.

And none of that was true. What are the police supposed to do when 95 human beings die from non-homicidal deaths in one year in a 50 block radius? What are we supposed to do?

Let it happen? That's the cruelty. The cruelty is not enforced in the law. The cruelty is not enforced in the law. What are we supposed to do about that?

Sit on our hands because it's not the optics aren't friendly? No, we refuse to do that. We recognize a Skid Row counter for like 50 percent of all the crime in the area. And we went in and it wasn't just enforcement. It was enhancements, outreach. And we were arresting people for the sake of getting them to programs that they normally would refuse without a push. But now, for the first time in my career, we had the justice system working with us.

Parole, probation, the DA's office. Everybody was on board. We have to fix Skid Row.

It's a disaster. And during that time, I always say, if you want somebody to change, you have to create an environment conducive to that. That's common sense. That's not political.

That's not left or right. And I'll never forget during the time where we created the environment through enforcement, enhancement and outreach, it made certain individuals ready for help. So as a senior lead officer, I began networking with housing agencies inside Skid Row and outside of Skid Row. I did that on my own because I know there are individuals who are desperately wanting to get off the street. Not everybody. But I housed about one hundred and fifty people in 10 years who were ready because of our push.

Now, that's nothing in Skid Row. There's about two thousand people on average who choose, choose to sleep in the street. There's very few people who aren't there by choice.

OK, I would say about 35 percent of the individuals are there because the party, because this is a place they can go and do their thing. Many people aren't homeless. But why didn't those other two thousand come for help? Because they weren't ready.

They weren't ready. But by the grace of God, due to the push, we got 150 people off the streets. And then through the initiative, we got a lot. Two thousand two hundred and twenty five individuals signed up for programs.

Now, I'm not saying everybody completed the program, but about 30 percent of them, in my estimation, did. And people were going home. People were reuniting with family members. We were finding missing people, murderers.

It was a beautiful time. And then I used my resources to build bridges with the community, community members that normally wouldn't talk to the police. Of course, you had your extreme activist groups. There's no talking to them. They're not they don't want to sit at the table. They say they want to sit at the table.

No, they want to completely turn it over just to feel a sense of power that ends up doing more damage to the people they claim they're trying to help. And then anything else. It just made me realize that community policing, grassroots community policing does work. But you got to put the work in.

You can't be scared. And I helped this group get paint trash cans to beautify the community. They literally clean the community up better than the city did.

No shot at the city. It's just these folks are more passionate about it. They painted murals saying these are black people. Right. Saying we want clean, safe, healthy streets by people, you know, but the news never reported this stuff. Skid Row was relatively safe and they did it on purpose. You know, they only want one narrative about the police. Right. But the reality is during 2005 and 2000 to 2011, Skid Row was a relatively safe place to live.

Here are the effects of it. And it was just a beautiful time. I have no regrets. I've saved more lives than anybody who criticizes me for being a police officer. And everyone who criticizes me, they either turn their head and look the other way.

I would not change this career or the path that I've taken for anything in the world. I'm still going to continue to try to be a light and a dark place. I remember I go every time I go on vacation, if I'm going 30 days and I come back, it's like their long lost father just came along. Damn, Robocop, where you been? Man, it's been crazy out here. I'm like, you remember I was telling you about Bill Snowden, you know, him driving down the street and people screaming his name from the rooftop.

The same thing happens to me. People don't understand why I'm so passionate. You can call me crazy.

You can call me whatever you want. I touch these things. And until you touch it, you will never, ever understand why I'm so passionate about bringing in a sense of order to Skid Row. Yes, law enforcement is such an important component. Anything you want to do, whether it's a noble cause such as get people safe and clean or have a concert, if it's not safe, no one's going to go.

If you want to run a school, if it's not safe, kids aren't going to learn. And I believe public safety is the cornerstone of all of that. I believe in crime control.

And when you say that, people start shaking. And, you know, but the truth is, I also believe in due process and we need to stop vilifying the concept of law enforcement. Because places like Skid Row needs order if we're going to save lives down there, if we're going to get people into these programs, we need the justice system to work again in the matter where they before, where if I brought a drug addict to you, you put them in a mandatory drug program that doesn't exist anymore. So all I can do right now is just be visible and try to deter people from getting hurt. But but that's the system. I'm not saying this because I hate the homeless. I'm saying this because I care about them. This is not a police perspective. It's coming from the perspective of a human man who cares, who just happens to be a cop.

And that's me in a nutshell. And a terrific job on the production, editing and story gathering by our own Greg Hengler. And a special thanks to Dion Joseph for sharing his story.

And it's a heck of a story on all of us can learn from that moment. He was on Main Street watching drug dealers, as he said, everywhere around him. And he offered up that prayer to God. Lord, how can I help this? He heard two words from God.

Stay here. And it's what he did. And he did what he called the sit down technique. And that is just sit down.

What do you know? Just by his presence. Well, the drug dealers slowly started to fade away. In fact, one of them even walked up to him and sort of said, hey, when are you going home? Ain't it time for you to go home?

And his rebuttal was, I am home. And then that knock on the window, I don't know who you are, but don't leave the block. Don't leave the block. By the way, this is a call to arms for so many men and women who can, well, sit and be present on a block that might have problems. Just your presence can make the difference.

You don't have to be a law enforcement officer to make a difference by doing the sit. This story was about so many things, public safety, being a cornerstone, but due process to and compassion and mercy and love for the least of these. The story of RoboCop, RoboCop Deon Joseph.

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Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-22 04:26:32 / 2023-05-22 04:45:39 / 19

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