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A SKID ROW COP’S OPINION SKID ROW. WE HAVE FAITH IN YOU. IT’S TIME TO HAVE FAITH IN US.

Hello again Central City East (Skid Row). As you know I am Senior Lead Officer Deon Joseph.  It has been my pleasure to serve you for the past five years as your Senior Lead Officer.  I have walked with you, and am grateful for your openness to me and your support over the years.  I hope in those times I along with my fellow officers have proven our desire to make your community a safe haven for many to rehabilitate and thrive. 

Over the years, many of you have expressed a strong desire for us to focus our efforts on individuals who selfishly come to your community to sell narcotics near facilities designed for rehabilitation such as the area shelters and low income supportive housing services.  We have been doing so through arrests and foot patrols in the area, but even with these two successful measures, more tools are needed to build on our current success.  In my walks through skid row over twelve years, I have discovered the rehabilitative aspects of skid row attract two kinds of people; people who are in desperate need of shelter and services, and those that want to exploit the vices and weaknesses of their addiction in what has been dubbed a recovery zone.

The Los Angeles Police Department Central Division has recognized that the majority of the community desires to make skid row a true community for individuals struggling with the disease of addiction, homelessness and mental illness.  We have demonstrated our belief in the positive aspects of this community through supporting grass roots programs birthed from within the community.  As a result of the Safer Cities Initiative breaking new ground on halting lawless behavior, these programs are able to flourish.  Such programs include the Skid Row 3 on 3 basketball leagues, Operation Face Lift, and Gladys Park play dates for the children of skid row as well as other positive programs and ideas from this great community.  We have spoken out against the closure of low income supportive hotels, as well as for the expansion of many of these great organizations.  We will continue to stand by these positive programs, because we have faith in the caring hands that tend to the needs of the homeless community.  We have also welcomed members of the community to be a part of enhancing the skid row community and we continuously seek their input on how to show the world that Skid Row is important and should not be overlooked or neglected based on negative stereotypes, and perceptions from those outside of the community.

We have also been allowed to create grass roots programs ourselves such as the “Just Like U” mentor program for children, and “Ladies Night” and the Old Blue Substation detail which is designed 100% for outreach, visibility, and availability to the community we serve.  As a result, we are slowly but surely creating an environment conducive to change in the lives of people struggling with a variety of issues in skid row.   

As I am sure you all have heard we will be working closely with the City Attorney’s Office in moving forward with an injunction, which focuses solely on gang members and other individuals that come from outside of the Central City East zone to sell narcotics and prey on the vices of the rehabilitative community.  With every enforcement action we take to help better the community, we have been accustomed to receiving resistance and concern from some individuals with a deep mistrust for law enforcement.  I for one will never disrespect or disregard the feelings of the community members I serve.  As a young African American male, I had the same concerns based on indoctrination from certain groups in my community, and media influence that only showed the negative exceptions of law enforcement for ratings rather than the honorable rule.  As a result I developed a fear and mistrust of law enforcement.  Yet as I became a man, I began to mature in my thought process. I began to look at the totality of every circumstance with an objective eye, rather than allow rumors, agenda laced rhetoric, and indoctrinated fears drive my thought process.  This allowed me to see circumstances for what they were, and empowered me to elevate myself in various spheres in my life through an independent and rational thought process.  From doing so, I was able to build a strong future for myself, family and my community as well as to create an environment for them to grow, thrive, and benefit from my decisions.  In short, I stopped believing in rumors, fairy tales and conspiracy theories which freed me to go to levels many of my friends and loved ones could not due to the glass ceiling many symbolically placed over them.

What I am asking of the members of the skid row community who still doubt our intentions is for you to do the same.  I am asking you to look at what skid row was prior to the Safer Cities Initiative and the other projects put in place to improve where you live in the present.  I am also asking for you to envision what your community can be if we are able to bar those with a desire to keep many on an endless spiral of addiction for self serving reasons.  Our goal is to make the influence of the service provider community stronger than that of the drug dealers and gang members who prey on the community.

This injunction places the focus on criminals who we believe (and you told us) are causing the problems in Skid Row.  Due to a lenient justice system, the financial crisis, and other issues, it is very difficult to keep these individuals out of your area without this mechanism.  Based on the criminal history of these men and women involving drug sales, coupled with the fact that they are not homeless, it is clear that they are not in Skid Row to benefit from the various rehabilitative programs in the area.

There have been recent attempts to drown out the voice of the people who truly care for the homeless; but it was those voices that drove this effort forward.  Regardless of the tactics of a few, we will not relent on this important phase in bringing order to Skid Row.

Think on this for a second.  When your favorite celebrity is struggling with addiction and needs to “get clean” do they go to the night clubs to do so?  Absolutely not, because the very temptations that drove them into a drug program are readily available to them there.  In skid row, many individuals cannot afford to go to Malibu or the mountains for a secluded safe environment to change.  But with your support, the police department along with the City Attorney’s Office can begin to make Central City East a place where people can have a better chance at taking their lives back from the grip of addiction by reducing crime and identifying criminals who want to keep Skid Row in an addictive state.  Yet that requires the community setting aside certain world views and negative perceptions, to work with as we continue to identify these predatory individuals.

This action we are taking is a clear indicator in our faith in you.  We are hoping that you keep an open mind to what we are trying to do, and in time begin to believe in us. I’m sure there will be things we agree and disagree about, but I hope you understand that everything we do is designed to help this community in the present, and beyond.

God Bless you all,

From your Senior Lead Officer Deon Joseph

For any questions or concerns please call me or email
(213) 793-0740
32511@lapd.lacity.org

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