9/11 Remembrance Ceremony

--On Friday, September 9, 2016, Los Angeles Fire Department, Los Angeles Police Department, and Los Angeles City Mayor held a 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony at the Frank Hotchkin Memorial Training Center.  “We will Never Forget” was the mantra everyone in attendance bowed their heads in memoriam to the day in which our nation was transformed.  Guest speakers for this event were: Mayor Eric Garcetti, Fire Chief Ralph Terrazas (LAFD), and Chief of Police Charlie Beck (LAPD).  “The past 15 years we have come together to remember, sacrifice, to affirm our mutual commitment, to our City and to each other”, said Chief Beck.  Speakers were followed with a benediction by LAFD Chaplain George Negrete.  

9-11 Remembrance Ceremony


Better pic flag half staff Police Chief w 23 ton steel of Twin Towers Fire Bell 9-11 Remembrance Ceremony


Hello again all. It has been a while since I have posted on the blog. This is primarily due to my fellow officers keeping our fingers in the cracks of the Skid Row dam to keep it from breaking. Those cracks include an injunction that hampers the City’s efforts in obtaining and maintaining a decent quality of life for the Skid Row citizens we serve, as well as AB109, which severely impedes our ability to deter outside narcotics dealers from selling drugs near drug programs under the protections of the Lavan injunction. It is state law now, and there is nothing we can do to change it. With any change to our laws, we as a law enforcement entity must adapt and continue to find ways, no matter how difficult to reduce crime and fear of crime in any community we serve. Skid Row is no exception.

The Lavan decision and a slow recovering economy have injured the enhancement and outreach efforts arms of the Safer Cities initiative. Though we are still engaged in various forms of enforcement to keep crime down, without the aforementioned components, it is difficult to build on the success of past efforts. With talk of nearly, $3.7 million dollars being allocated to Skid Row, I believe the enhancement arm will be slowly restored over time. As far as outreach, aside from individual efforts of dedicated officers in the area, we have yet to see any movement or talks to bring that arm of the initiative back on line. We have been working diligently to start the conversation.

Without additional resources an extremely marginalized class of the Central City East community, remains vulnerable to the criminal element of the Skid Row community. That segment of the community is the mentally ill. Many of them are drawn to Skid Row for the level of free services that are not availed to them in other parts of the City or county. Many of them are not criminals, and function as any other law-abiding citizen when they properly manage their illnesses. They obey laws, utilize housing and other services, and even become advocates in assisting others struggling with mental illness. Some are partners with our department via community policing, and assets to the Skid Row community. Yet others are unfortunately dumped in the Skid Row area from other parts of the state and country at varied and dangerous stages of mental illness.

While in Skid Row their various issues become exacerbated, as many become victimized and exploited by the criminal element of Skid Row. Others become dual diagnosed as they begin to self medicate on the plethora of illicit narcotics being sold throughout the area by the very criminals we are struggling to keep out.

Historically as a department, we have been relegated to assisting these individuals when they degenerate to such a state, when they meet the legal requirements for a mandatory hold, only to be released several days later only to wonder back to Skid Row. They usually end up being handcuffed again and returned to a contract hospital for treatment again. Even worse, we often are relegated being an after the fact entity, as the mentally ill often become chronic victims or suspects in violent crimes, where they end up seriously hurt, or locked away in a jail or prison cell for a violent crime. Though many times this is understandable from a legal and public safety standpoint, it remains in my opinion one of the great wrongs in our society.

As an officer working over 16 years in the Skid Row area, I have seen many individuals, who I believed were right on the edge of either committing a crime, based on their volatile behavior. Unfortunately I had to wait until they actually committed the crime before I could “help” them. Others, I would observe in such a deteriorated state, that I knew that they would become vulnerable to an often merciless and heartless criminal element, due to their inability to report or articulate crimes against them. Without video, or a willing witness of these crimes, their cases would routinely get rejected, and they would remain open to more violence. Most of them we are unable to assist as well, because they legally do not meet the requirements to be helped by our department.

Recently, a mentally ill man, who is known for trying to pick fights with random individuals when his mental illness overcomes him, challenged a violent man to a fist fight in the area of 7th Street and Wall Street. I along with other officers in Skid Row have detained and placed this individual on a medical hold on several occasions to prevent him from being harmed via his actions. On a day that we were not able to rescue him from his illness, he was stabbed multiple times in the heart and throat by the man he challenged. He died several times in the hospital as doctors worked diligently to preserve his life. Thankfully he survived, but I saw this coming for months, and left untreated and un-housed, I truly believe he will be harmed again.

Just months prior, I was involved in a use of force with the same man, as he tried to assault a woman in front of children at the Union Rescue Mission, because blocks away, he was harassed and bullied over his sexual orientation. At no time during the struggle was I angry with this man. I was angry with a system that placed him, a homeless woman, and me in danger. In my opinion, his actions were a cry for help than nearly turned criminal.

Others who are not violent will become anchored to the sidewalk in unhealthy conditions for weeks, and develop scabies, attract rats and other vermin, or become so filthy that they can be smelled from blocks away. They end up in such a poor mental state that they do not take care of themselves physically, but because they at least have the wherewithal to feed themselves, they are often not considered a candidate for assistance via our department mental health resources.

We have been asked for years to be the answer for the issues stemming from mental illness in the communities we serve. We have done the best that we can to manage this issue with limitations to protect the mentally ill from predators, as well as protect the public from mentally ill individuals who we know are prone to violence. It is not the LAPD that has failed the mentally ill or the public. It is our society that has failed them. A society that has closed down hospitals. A system that is slow to create more housing plus care locations that would respect their autonomy and civil rights, as well as provide them with on-site access to services that can manage their conditions.

As a Division, it is no longer our goal to remain an “after the fact entity” as it relates to the homeless. I as a patrol officer, and a Senior Lead Officer, had to arrest many mentally ill men and women who I knew and cared about, after their illness drove them to harm someone. Though it was legal and in good faith, it was in my mind a moral crime. I put people in prison, and jail who needed help long before they committed their crimes. I could not stop them ahead of time because they did not utter the magic words of “I want to kill myself” or “I want to hurt others.” I watched helplessly as the indicators of their crime presented themselves in their behavior moments before an assault, a stabbing, or an act of mayhem. Or even worse, for the innocent victims, who would sit on the sidewalk mumbling incoherently, or cursing at an imaginary nemesis. I had an uneasy feeling that as soon as I walked away they would become victimized by a Skid Row predator anxious to prove how tough they were. Some were sexually violated because the assailant perceived that the victim could not call for help, or be able to articulate what happened to them. Upon my return from a meeting or handling a call for service my fears would often be confirmed.

Since the Lavan Injunction, the early release of many mentally ill individuals from the prison system, and a more aggressive form of nimbyism in other community’s eager to rid themselves of their mentally ill, we have seen an increase in the presence of said individuals in the Skid Row area like never before. We are at a state of urgency, as the streets of Skid Row have once again become an outdoor asylum without walls. On a daily basis we see the potential for violence against or committed by these individuals, and we truly need the stepped up assistance of mental health professionals who deal with mental health to reach out to these individuals before they become victimized, threaten suicide, victimize others, or become so mentally unstable, that they stop taking care of themselves. As we enter into this new phase of the Safer Cities Initiative, we desire that outreach stand at the front end our efforts. That can only happen when mental health providers, within and outside of Skid Row partner with us to try to meet the needs of the most vulnerable in Skid Row before they become a police report, or criminalized by their illness.

We have made several attempts to bring this to fruition, but our requests have been met with trepidation in working side by side with us out of fear of how they would be perceived by the public for working with law enforcement. This mentality has to change. It is not our desire to violate the constitutional rights of the mentally ill members of the Skid Row community. We desire to meet the mentally ill where they are with resources and counseling before they get to a point where they lose their freedom via a criminal act or a mandatory hold. This will take a collective and unified effort, because if we are honest, everything else we have tried has failed them.

No one knows better than the officers who work Skid Row where the neediest individuals of proactive outreach can be found. We see them daily. We know who the most vulnerable are, and we simply want to reach out to them via a consistent and proactive partnership to get them helped, and housed. We are not helping the mentally ill in a reactive state.

We as a Department are changing the way we do things for the safety of the community, and to develop stronger relationships with the people we serve. We need for Mental Health agencies to do the same and join us with us. We have tried everything else; it is time to try something that may actually work if we give it a chance.



Senior Lead Officer Deon Joseph
Los Angeles Police Department Central Division

Treasures of Los Angeles Honors One of LAPD’s Finest


Podcast Honoring One of LAPD's Finest

On Thursday April 28, 2011, Police Officer Deon Joseph was honored at the Central City Association’s 17th annual “Treasures of Los Angeles” awards banquet.  Officer Joseph is a 16 year veteran with the Los Angeles Police Department. From day one he has worked putting bad guys behind bars and helping the disadvantaged.  Officer Joseph’s true passion exploded while being the Senior Lead Officer in charge of the skid row area.  He is known as a true hero there.  He has worked day and night to keep the skid row community free from crime and disorder.  He doesn’t do it because he has to; he does it because he wants to.  The people of skid row feel secure knowing that Officer Joseph will do whatever it takes to keep them safe.

Before accepting his award, the Central City Association showed a short film on the work and progress Officer Joseph has made in the skid row area.  One resident stated, “I wish there were more Officer Joseph’s in this world.”  He was recently given the “Hero for Hope” award for Outstanding Community Service by the Los Angeles Rescue Union, and in 2007 Parade Magazine and the International Association of Chief of Police declared him to be one of the nation’s top police officers. 

Joseph has developed several programs for the youth living on skid row, one being called “Just Like U.”  This program is designed to keep inner-city youth out of gangs and away from the temptation of the street by bringing them into contact with successful adults.  He also started “Ladies Night” to help women living on the streets. He is named a “Treasure of Los Angeles” for having a heart for the City and making downtown a better place for all of us. 

After receiving a well deserved standing ovation Chief Beck stated, “Officer Joseph makes me immensely proud to be the Chief of Police.  He is strong enough to protect but he is compassionate enough to have empathy to serve.  Deon is a man of steal with a heart of gold.”

Deon Officer Joseph made a short but powerful speech.  “I am truly honored and blessed to receive this award.”  He thanked the leadership of the Police Department, the City council, the Central City Association and the skid row community. He thanked his wife, his three sons and his twin brother, who is also a Los Angeles Police Officer for their love and support.

The Central City Association is a business membership organization representing businesses, trade associations and non-profit organizations.  They are LA’s premier business advocate that help shape public policy on broad ranges of issues.  The banquet was held at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel located in Downtown Los Angeles.



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


By Senior Lead Officer Deon Joseph

Hello Skid Row. I would like to talk about respect.  On many occasions, when I walk down the street, the criminal element begins to scatter, and those that cannot move fast enough hide their illegal contraband and devices.  Others are ordered by members of the community to get up, so I could have my "respect".

I want to inform you that though we all should respect one another, it is your right to respect me or have distain for me. Whichever way one chooses to feel, I am mandated to show respect to all whether they respect me or not. Please know that I am not above you because of the badge I wear.  I am no more extraordinary or special than any other man or woman.  I have simply been given the honorable responsibility of ensuring public safety, and that all laws of this city are observed.  So if you respect me. That's nice.  I appreciate it.  But if you don't, that's fine too, as long as you respect the law.  That is my primary concern because when the laws are obeyed, lives, and the quality of life are preserved.

But I would like to discuss something that we all should respect in this area, and that is the diligent work of the service provider community (i.e. drug programs, shelters, alcohol programs, and mental health services). 

Nothing irritates me more than when people who seek assistance with beating their addictions within these safe havens in the community, are hurt by people who hinder their efforts by selling and using narcotics directly behind and sometimes within drug programs and shelters.

That to me is the height of disrespect.  If you do not respect yourself and do not want to change your life, no one should impede the service provider community's efforts to help change the lives of those with the desire to change via narcotics sales, usage, and other illegal acts. 

That is selfishness to the highest degree.  I believe in every human being is a capacity for decency.  So if you are a dealer or an addict that refuses to change, have the decency not to stand in the way of those who do want to do something better with their lives, as well as the people that are trying to help them.

To assist you in that, I will be adding enhancements to those arrested for selling narcotics, behind or within 1000 feet of any mission or shelter (11380.7 of the Health and Safety Code).   It should not have to come to that, but it may be necessary.

I am seeking your voluntary compliance before I take action.  I would like for all those in need of help to take advantage of the services offered in this area.  But if that does not interest you, stay away from the missions when you are violating the laws, and yourselves. 

Also, respect the men and women from within your community who are trying to bring art and beauty to the San Julian corridor, and taking it upon themselves to sweep the streets.  Respect them by utilizing the trashcans that are placed on the sidewalks with you in mind.  Show pride in your area, because if you don't respect where you live, no one else will.

For those trying to get control of your lives, you are in my constant prayers.  Please let me know when you graduate.  I would love to support you in anyway I can, because I believe that there is hope for skid row.  That is why I police the way I do.  I want to help create an environment conducive to positive change in your lives. 

God bless you all.

A Walk in the Park (Taking Down a Skid Row Stronghold)

Hello again.  I am Senior Lead Officer Deon Joseph.  I am the liaison between the LAPD, Central and the Skid Row area it serves.  The Safer Cities Initiative is moving forward. And we have learned a lot since the Initiative began.  This knowledge has assisted us in our efforts to eliminate crime in this neglected area.

As I have stated numerous times, the people that live, work and frequent this area deserve the same protection and quality of life as anywhere else in this great City.  Whether they live in a Single Residence Occupancy, work in the Missions, or dwell in the street, it is our job to ensure that each member of this community is safe and observes the laws of our City. 

Within this community, as in any other community, there are schools, parks, and playgrounds.  The difference is the concentration of the criminal element that has historically poisoned the true potential of this area of the City.  My desire is that our efforts continue to turn the tide on this disturbing trend.  A long-standing stronghold of the criminal element in Skid Row is also one of the potential bright spots, San Julian Park.  Located in the heart of the narcotics trade on 5th and San Julian Streets, the marijuana trades flourished directly under the radar of the police station.  Until recently, officers were unable to tackle the problem due to lack of resources and support.

Since the park’s inception drug dealers saw this area as prime real estate due to the high volume of customers and lack of consequence for their actions.  Additionally, during the last three years, I observed a disturbing trend in the area.  There is an influx of women with small children who are residents in the surrounding shelters.  As with any child, these youngsters would sometimes find themselves playing in this park, while drug dealers sold their product unfazed by their potential negative influence upon these children and the community as a whole.

Under blanket covered tables within this park, illegal contraband and money changed hands as men and women played cards and dominoes.  At times, I received complaints from individuals who were “ordered” to leave the park by the dealers.  This left them no other choice but to sit on the curb as the drug dealers talked street politics and strategized the ins and outs of their trade.

Frustrated, fellow officers and I we would make arrest after arrest within the park, only to see the same dealers released early.  The arrests actually allowed them to strengthen their operations aided by the two or three new faces who replaced them during their absence.  These factors, coupled with the strong aroma of marijuana smoke tauntingly reminding us of our futility.  This was the last straw for me.

With Safer Cities Initiative in play, and the resources we so desperately needed at our disposal, it is now time to remove the grip that crime syndicates have had on this park for years, and give it back to the law abiding members of this community.  This will be done through continuous presence, community outreach efforts, and the aggressive arrest and prosecution of narcotics “dealers.”  Our efforts, if successful will not only be helpful to the park, but to drug programs, shelters, and community members.  Residents have recently gained a new courage, as a result of the Safer Cities Initiative, to give crime information and freely express their wish for a safe drug free community.

Of course we will have our detractors.  A confrontational stance is anticipated from activist groups and their lawyers who claim to be “for the homeless.”  But as I have stated before, (LAPD Blog, September 21, 2006 and November 9, 2006) there are those who profit from keeping things the way they were.  These groups are well aware of the ongoing problems in the park, and other drug torn areas within skid row.  Yet, in their rants and rhetoric regarding police and the homeless, they fail to mention the gangs and illegal activity they bring because it does not benefit them to tell the whole truth about the driving forces which inhibits people in Skid Row from reaching their full potential. Indeed, we will press forward.  They can try to hide behind and distort the First Amendment and the other Amendments to obscure the truth from the public, but we have video footage, extensive evidence and arrests giving just cause for this phase of the
Safer Cities Initiative. 

This park belongs to the community, your community, and we will make our presence felt there until the quality of live improves in Skid Row.  If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.

Senior Lead Officer Joseph

A Skid Row Cop's Opinion II

My name is Senior Lead Officer Deon Joseph.  I am the lead officer for the Skid Row area.  There have been many questions raised in regards to the effectiveness of the Safer Cities Initiative (SCI).  Several of our opponents touted boastfully it was a waste of resources, and predicted unavoidable failure even prior to its initiation.  These are groups whom somehow benefit by keeping things the way they were.

In spite of their opinions, we have pressed forward, and the difference in the Skid Row area is glaringly apparent.  As I patrolled my area during the last two weeks, it has been a pleasure to see streets, where service providers work hard to help the homeless, such as San Julian and San Pedro Streets, become environments that are conducive to positive change.  The change is apparent at these facilities, not just on the exterior but the interior as well.

For the first time in years, I observed a woman walking with her three small children down streets that were once tent-covered brothels of criminal behavior and filth.  Single Room Occupancy (SRO) residents and street dwellers alike express their appreciation for the change. These conversations are now a common theme as I interact with individuals in my designated area.

Also the radio is unusually quiet, as opposed to the repeated calls of narcotics dealing, overdoses and assaults that were routine over our frequency.  Most of the individuals that are unhappy with these changes are the drug dealers, and the addicts who used to rule the streets with a renewed vigor after the 9th U.S. Circuit Court ruling, regarding the Los Angeles Municipal Code
(LAMC) 41.18(d).

Though the job is far from being complete we continue to work on strong partnerships with the District Attorney's Office, the Superior Court Judges, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, and Los Angeles County Probation Department.  With their support we can send a strong message that narcotics dealers, and violent criminals will not be tolerated in an area that is designed to provide shelter and resources to assist people beat their addictions, and overcome homelessness.

Our detractors state that we are failing to deal with the root of the homeless problem.  In my opinion the root of the problem nationwide is poor education and lack of jobs.  However, in the area of Skid Row, the problem can be easily diagnosed when you walk down some streets and see rows of addicts smoking rock cocaine and injecting heroin.  Narcotics are the reason for the continuum of the downward spiral of many Skid Row residents.

As we continue our efforts some of the individuals whom came here for  "the party," as my Captain so aptly expressed, are now leaving the area to their real residences or hotel rooms.  I believe that in time, as we make the area unattractive to the criminal elements that have thrived here for years; it will help the missions in their efforts.  For instance, rather than drug dealers using the missions as crash pads while they poison the community during the day, the truly needy individuals will have a safe facility to receive guidance and assistance.

As the face of this area begins changing, block by block, I believe it is a prime opportunity for the residents, the homeless, and business communities to finally take a stand and take back their streets.  That is another element of this effort that has been missing in the past.  I strongly believe that citizens will be more inclined to report crime, as it becomes safer to do so.

So when I am asked what is LAPD Central Area's role in helping the Skid Row community, the answer to me is clear.  Our role is: To maintain order, enhance safety and create an environment that is conducive to the positive change in the lives of the homeless, residents of the SROs, service providers, and the business community in Skid Row.


Senior Lead Officer Deon Joseph
Los Angeles Police Department, Central Area