A Letter to Skid Row
By Senior Lead Officer Deon Joseph
I have maintained my silence on this issue for a long time. But I just cannot take it any longer. There are groups in the Skid Row area that claim to be for the homeless, but they are truly for exploiting them.
Since I became a Senior Lead Officer (SLO), this group and other alike groups have fought us tooth and nail over crime prevention in Skid Row. They have been allowed to tell lies, and use racial and homophobic language against officers and myself who patrol the Skid Row area. Moreover, when the police officers respond to them, even in a respectful manner, they run down to Central Station, and encourage others to follow suit in filing false complaints.
I am for residents filing righteous complaints against officers who treat them poorly. If you do not believe me, then just ask the staff members of the Volunteers of America (VOA). The VOA called me when an officer and a sergeant responded to their location when they (VOA) needed assistance and were treated in a disrespectful manner by the officer, who neglected to do his duty. When I discovered this, I was very upset and personally initiated a complaint on those officers. But the activist group will not tell you about that.
I do not consider enforcing laws, whether it is for jaywalking or murder, as harassment. If you ask honest members of the Skid Row community, it is long overdue. Yet, if an officer while conducting his or her enforcement is righteously disrespectful or cruel to any member of the community, it should be dealt with.
Now I am the first to admit that police officers are not perfect people. At Central Division thre are 400 officers doing the best job they can to police 45,000 human beings living in a 4.5-square mile radius, and the hundreds of thousands who come to visit, work and shop in the downtown area. In doing so, one must realize that our job is as unpredictable as humanity is, and that no two situations are the same in this Division.
At no time in my tenure of policing Skid Row did I ever feel that I was above the people I serve, because I am no better than you are. I just have a greater responsibility. Yet, I shall never apologize for being tough on crime in Skid Row because for years, I have observed my people in this area destroy one another, via drug addiction, alcohol abuse, gang crimes, drug sales, and violence. I truly want to see this change, because I do believe in the good in all of you, and desperately want to bring that out in this community before I leave.
It concerns me that this group truly wants Skid Row to go right back to where it was before, with people overdosing and slowly dying on the sidewalks, so they can continue to paint pictures of your pain to their donors, without seeing one bit of improvement in your lives.
I honestly could care less about the ramifications of writing this letter to you. I am fed up with the lies of this group who has witnessed me testify to keep the Single Room Occupancy programs functioning in Skid Row. They were aware of my speaking on behalf of the Union Rescue Mission’s (URM) efforts to place women and children in a better place where they can truly benefit from the URM’s services.
Their tactics are solely designed to keep the lines of communications and understanding between Central police officers and the Skid Row community closed, so that chaos will continue to reign in Skid Row. Why, because that is how they get their funding. If we make the streets safe here, they will not be able to profit from people’s pain. Poverty is a business to groups like the ones that I speak of.
On top of exploiting poverty for funding, their hypocrisies remain boundless. I have observed members of these groups selling knives to homeless people and pornography on the sidewalks where women and children walk. Community members have also advised me of one of their members selling single cans of beer to drunk men in the area. They preach against racism and sexism, but I had a very interesting conversation with one of their members who used homophobic slurs against a man he believed “snitched” on him. I have the proof.
As I stated many times before, I do not care what anyone thinks of me, but I do care about every one on Skid Row. So, love me or hate me, I am going to continue to try and make it safe for you because it is my job. I refuse to let activism or politics hinder me from doing that job. Whether Safer Cities Initiative stays forever or leaves tomorrow, I will still continue doing what I feel is right within the law, regardless of the tactics of activist groups, and the powerful law firms that back them.
Look at what is occurring in Skid Row, today. Skid row is safer now, and the activist groups had nothing to do with it. When juveniles were coming into the area and brutalizing the elderly and handicapped right in front of their office, they sat back and watched, and said nothing about it.
I asked for their assistance in talking to these kids and referring them to programs because I did not want to “criminalize” these kids as they say, and because this group appeared to be bold enough to do so.
For the record, I must state that not all of the members of this group are of the same caliber as their leadership. Few of them are very caring people with whom I have met and prayed with.
If those members' influence was stronger than the majority of this group, just imagine what we could do for people on Skid Row.
With these truths, one must truly ask if this group is really for you or not. As for Central Division, whether you think we care or not. Whether you think we are here for gentrification or not, we have a duty to stop the lawlessness that has ravaged the quality of life in this area for decades, and will continue to do so.
If I have to verbally battle with this group at every meeting, I do not mind, because, it is worth fighting over to create a positive relationship between the people of Skid Row and Los Angeles Police Department Central Division.
Now who is this group I speak of? It is kind of hard to say. There are several groups that operate down here. But they will probably be the group running down to make a complaint about this letter of truth. Somehow they forget that police officers are not excluded from
the 1st Amendment Right to the Constitution privileges, and I will take full advantages of that right whenever they try to slander the leadership and the frontline of this Department, that is truly making a difference.
From your SLO Deon Joseph, Serial No. 32511