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Fighting Crime in Downtown Los Angeles with Love, Respect, and God

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb
The Truth Network Radio
May 23, 2024 3:00 am

Fighting Crime in Downtown Los Angeles with Love, Respect, and God

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb

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May 23, 2024 3:00 am

On this episode of Our American Stories, Senior Lead Officer Deon Joseph recounts how he built community connections and relationships—and changed police perceptions with with one profound phrase: "I love you."

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And to search for the Our American Stories podcast, go to the iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts. Dion Joseph is a law enforcement consultant, author, and active senior lead officer in the notorious downtown Los Angeles district known as Skid Row. He's here to share another story with us. This one begins with Dion visiting a juvenile detention center.

Let's take a listen. So I go the first day and I go through the gates and they buzz me in and I'm looking and it looks just like a prison yard. You have the Hispanics working out over here.

You have the blacks working out and shooting dice over here. And I'm like, Oh my God, these kids are going to hate me. And just something in my spirit said, don't worry about just telling me you love them.

They brought the kids into the class. Some of them thought I was there to arrest them. I said, calm down. I don't even want to know your names.

I'm here for one reason. And that's to tell you I love you. And some of them laughed at me.

I said, you can laugh all you want, but I love you no matter what you do or what you say. I figuratively put down my badge and gun and I told them my story and then I made them trust me. And then I started bringing in these mentors. I brought in my wife, whose brother ended up going to a prison, sadly, and I'm talking about the impact on your family.

And what they told me was after about several months of me doing that and taking them on a tour of Skid Row, their grades went up to grade levels and they credited a police officer for it. These are the things that the media doesn't talk about. And of course, I don't brag about it.

My faith, I don't brag about the good things that I do. I only feel the need to talk about it because everybody today is suffering from what we call availability bias. And their only thing being availed to them about police officers is the negative. We have 800,000 men and women who are doing an incredible job.

But of course, in every profession, there's a negative exception. And when they rear their ugly head, they steal the headlines from officers like myself and others, thousands of us across the country who are doing things just like this and doing their jobs nobly and with dignity and respect. I always talk about God ordering your steps because I always thought senior lead officers, which are community liaison officers, right? All they did was smile, wave and kiss babies and run errands for the captain. I used to tease these guys when I was a patrol cop, right?

We're doing real police work and you're just kissing babies. And when I was talked to a lieutenant who I respected, her name was Lieutenant Gramala. She came to me and said, Joseph, I think you'd be perfect for the senior lead spot. I was like, what? Oh, heck no, ma'am. I don't want to do that job. And she says, Dion, if you get that spot, you're probably going to do more damage to crime than you ever will as a patrol cop. So that kind of attracted me a little bit.

And plus, I respected her, you know, so I said, I'm going to try out for it. This is all God. This is right.

Nobody can tell me about the existence of God. Now, I was supposedly short for my oral interview. I was purposely given the wrong time by a sergeant there who didn't want me in his unit because he heard I was a hard worker and I was going to make everybody look bad.

And so politics got involved. So they changed my time. So when I got to the oral interview, everybody's leaving. I said, where's everybody going? I'm supposed to be here doing my thing. And the captain looks at me and says, well, Joseph, you were supposed to be here at two. And I was like, sir, I didn't have anything to do with that.

I have the text right here. I was told to be here. And he said, OK, well, come on in. They sat back down and it was like God took over the interview. They didn't have they couldn't ask me a question. I was just going in about my experience in Skid Row, how much I cared about the homeless. And I wasn't sure that I got the spot because the very sergeant that gave me the wrong time was sitting in the interview room. So I was like, I don't think I got it.

Here's the power of God. I'm leaving the interview in my suit. I left my backup weapon at home. I'm driving in my personal vehicle down Fifth and Wall. I make a left on Fifth Street and I see a bank robber who had robbed banks from Arizona to California that no one was able to catch. And he's just walking down the street like nothing was happening. I'm like, that's him. But I wasn't sure. I opened my center console and I can't believe I have the flyer balled up in my center console.

Oh, yeah, that's him. I flip around the block. I park. I get out of car. I walk towards him. I say, hey, don't run.

I'll catch you. Let's just walk over here to the station and get this over with. And he said, I knew you'd find me sooner or later.

I don't know what the hell that was about. Took him to the station, handcuffed him. And I couldn't believe when I brought him in, the deputy chief came out of his office.

The lieutenant was jumping up and down. And I'm sitting here like everybody's just so happy I caught this guy. I was like, wow. So I think that's what guaranteed me the spot. Talk about the power of God.

Because I believe that if that didn't happen, I would not have got the spot that day. So anyway, then I used my resources to build bridges with the community, community members that normally wouldn't talk to the police. There was a group called United Coalition East Project.

So they never had a cop come and talk to them. But one of their members heard of heard of me and my reputation. And he sent me a blind copy email. And I was like, what's this? An invite to a meeting?

Blind copy? I'll show up anyway. So I walk into the meeting and there's 12 angry black faces looking at me like, what the hell is he doing here? And even the guy who invited me was like, I don't know what he's doing here.

Fool, you invited me. And I'll never forget, I looked on the walls and I saw paintings, kids, five year olds, paintings, pictures of police officers shooting children in the head. That's called indoctrination, the same kind of indoctrination that I was receiving as a young man myself.

And the average person would have looked at that and just walked out. Something in my spirit says, don't give up. I kept coming for six months. I kept coming to every meeting, let them know who I was, what I was going to do, supporting them. And some of the things they were trying to do. And I think about the six months I walked into the office and I noticed the paintings were gone. So I said, hey, OG, hey, Leslie, where's all the cool paintings of cops murdering kids? And they said, we didn't want to offend you, Dion.

And that touched my heart. Now the names were starting to change. They went to funny names like Officer Bobblehead, Officer Tightshirt, Officer Mail Stripper. And then it went to Rambro. I had a homeless encampment, a whole encampment of people say, we call you Rambro. I was like, why are you calling me Rambro? They said, because if somebody messes with us, you're like a one man army who comes to our rescue. And I was in tears. I had to walk away. I said, that's one of my favorites.

But when they called me Dion that day, it changed everything. That availability bias. Eight hundred thousand members of law enforcement. We only hear about the few bad actors. Dion Joseph's story and the story of law enforcement across this great country, serving all of us, rich and poor, big homes, small homes and the homeless. Here on Our American Stories. Lee Habib here, the host of Our American Stories. Every day on this show, we're bringing inspiring stories from across this great country.

Stories from our big cities and small towns. But we truly can't do the show without you. Our stories are free to listen to, but they're not free to make. If you love what you hear, go to Our American Stories dot com and click the donate button. Give a little, give a lot.

Go to Our American Stories dot com and give. From BBC Radio 4, Britain's biggest paranormal podcast is going on a road trip. I thought in that moment. Oh, my God. We've summoned something from this board. This is Uncanny USA.

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