IF WE JUST TRIED A LITTLE HARDER

With the Mueller Investigation closing, I took some time to reflect on where we are as Americans.  This is not a pro left or pro right post. This is a pro US post, so please no trolling. I’ll just delete or block you. 

We have been in a pretty dark place since 2016. Sure. Some of the blame can be laid at the feet of the President. I just don’t agree that he bares the loins share for what we see now. 

I’ve seen blood relatives stop speaking to each other. Close friends turn into enemies, people’s freedoms attacked, and partisan politics is what drives that car.  

But it is not new. It was happened during the Obama presidency as well, it just seems that the machine attacking the current president has stronger batteries than the one that attacked him.  And it is in overdrive, causing the erosion of free thought, free speech, civility, and reason. 

With this investigation coming to a close, I pray in my heart that whichever way it goes, we can put it behind us, stop the lies, fear mongering and divisive tactics.  I don’t like seeing anyone being attacked or shamed because of their skin color.  Any one who experienced something so cruel (like me), with any decency in their heart would never want that for anyone else.  But it seems people are getting a rise out of it.  It gives them the wrong kind of sense of empowerment to me that only serves to breed more pain. 

I’ve always said there is two ways to kill a man. One is to mortally wound him, the other is to silence him.  

For me, I’ll take a physical death over an internal one.  If you stop my heart my soul will be with my father in heaven and departed loved ones, so I do not fear that. 

Yet as we speak, murders are happening all over our college and high school campuses, in our streets, on social media and news outlets that have lost all objectivity on both sides of the political spectrum. 

It is figuratively and literally creating one of the most dangerous atmospheres in our history. The poisonous fruits of this have yet to yield, but it’s coming.

Americans, I know we have different beliefs and opinions, but there is a time where what we had in common, was respect for freedoms; even if we did not agree with the display of it.

I remembers debating about politics as a young Black Democrat with a White Republican and it not developing into the urge to harm them.

I remember disagreeing with fellow Democrats, and not being called a n- or a Tom.

Because then, we tried harder to respect each other in spite of how different we were.

What I’m seeing today is Americans, figuratively showing up with their swords for the sole purpose of wounding one another.

From a young woman losing her life in Charlottesville, to MAGA hat wearers being punched, chased, and slandered. To law enforcement agencies being compared to Nazis by government officials who are supposed to support Law and Order. To blacks being assassinated because they are brave enough to have an opinion different than what is prescribed for them.

The remedy for all of this is simple: we must try a little harder. I know it is human to hate when things don’t go out way, but like no other time in history since the civil rights era, we all need to tap into super nature.

I’ll start. To every American. Whether you are left, right, Black, White, straight, gay, transgender, Christian, Muslim, or any other faith, I respect your right to exist, think, speak, and to voice your conscience.

I don’t have to agree with you or sacrifice my values to love you, and you don’t have to do with me either.

Can we just try this?

A Walk Through Tragedy, To A Connection With God

So after a few days of meetings, special details and other things, I was finally able to break away from it all and walk a foot beat in the heart of Skid Row. It was the worst I had seen in in years. I was completely disheartened by it all.

I only walked a block away from the station when I was met by the living breathing embodiment of failure. Along with people with handicaps, the elderly and others, I had to walk in the street due to tents blocking the sidewalks. Every other person I saw had a black eye. As usual, when I asked what happened to them, they timidly put their head down and mumbled “I fell,” as a group of watchful, able bodied intimidating individuals stared them down to endure that was the answer.

I was surprised by the number of women I was now seeing who were bruised up, but perked up upon seeing me stride down the street. As if for that moment of brevity, they were safe. I came upon a pile of trash; one of many that nearly came up to my knees. A homeless man said to me as I stared at it “I’m getting it officer” as he swept mounds of trash left over from good intentions from the gutter. I thanked him and moved on.

I arrived at one of the missions and saw a commotion in the street.  I approached to de-escalate it, and as I got closer, I observed multiple homeless people jostling for clothes that had been dropped-off, literally in the street, as cars swerved around to avoid striking them as bouts of tug of war broke out over jeans, blankets, and other items they did not even need.

No matter how many times I’ve seen it, I still cannot get over the inhumanity of homelessness donors, dumping clothes in the street for the homeless to fight over them like animals, in the name of helping them.  If they just would have stuck around for a moment, they would have noticed that not one of them were without clothes or a jacket. I knew where those good intentions were going to go as soon as I left, it would be bartered into a meth pipe.

As I helped push the clothes and the people back onto the sidewalk to keep them from getting hit by a car, one lady just sat in the street. After a few minutes of coaxing, she got up and ambled away mumbling to herself.  As I watch her leave I hear a scream. An inebriated mentally ill woman was sitting on the sidewalk challenging anyone with the balls to do so to catch her hands as she sipped on a Colt 45.  I walked up to her, and tapped her on the shoulder. She turns with her dukes up and cane in her hand. All of this while many homeless people greeted me and hugged me.

When she realizes it was me, she gathered herself and tears begin to well in her eyes. “Where you been Joseph? They won’t leave me alone!”  I calmed her down and relieved her of her liquid courage. I did not want her to drink anymore to end up a victim or a suspect. Her love for me turned to anger. As she balled up her fist a familiar face decided to come to my rescue.

My 70 year old fiancé attaches herself to me. She was in full mamma bear mode to protect her giant chocolate cub. I restrained her and told her in broken Spanish, that I was fine and could handle it. She stood down, but had her own cane at the ready should I need back up.

The angry woman I was dealing with, calmed down again and apologized to me, but continued to curse everyone around her. As I walked away she yells “I’m gonna get another beer Joseph!”  I walked away shaking my head, but I wasn’t alone.  My fiancé put her arm in her arm and made me walk with her. I obliged her, because I did not want her returning to the other woman to defend my honor.

As we walked she continued to talk to me in Spanish. Whatever she was saying, it was clear she was passionate about it. I just said “Si!” After every pause, not even knowing what I was agreeing to. As we arrived at another corner, I ran into a woman I rescued years ago.  She was doing very well. It was a bright spot in the midst of Dante’s Inferno. With my fiancé in tow, we walked northbound.

A mentally ill woman who stalked me from Facebook all the way to skid row rushed me.  She hugged me and said I was her father. My fiancé asked if it was true.  As to not hurt the young lady’s feelings, and keep my “fiancé” from thinking I was cheating I said “Si”.  I told her to give me a moment with my 32 year old child. She did.

The young woman grabbed my hand and wanted to tell me about her life and all of the things I missed out on. I did not mind being a surrogate father to her so she could release her demons.  So I listened to this young beautiful Black woman, who had simply been thrown away into homelessness with scars and all.  She reeked of urine, but I held my nose and listened until she got it all out.  She hugged me again and Thanked me for listening. I started to walk away again, but my emotions got the best of me.  I turned to her and said “Young lady. Skid Row is no place for any woman.  Please find a way to get the hell out of here. Please.”

I turned and locked arms with my fiancé who wanted me to take her to the Union Rescue Mission. We walked through clouds of spice smoke and large tents to get to there. Upon entering the mission with her, my eyes became fixed on the doors of the chapel.  I now needed to pray alone so badly, but my fiancé would not let me go.  So I decided to take her in with me.

As I entered, a devotional was already in progress. Staff workers were having a praise and worship service.  They were singing of how mighty God was and how he could not fail. The human in me wanted to question it after what I just saw. But my spirit was drawn to it like a flame. I walked in, grabbed a seat with my fiancé and listened to the singing and praise.  I began to soften a bit and soon, I was singing under my breath of the greatness of our God.

As one of the staff members prayed, my fiancé laid her hands on my shoulder and prayed for me as well. As adorably crazy as she was, she knew what I needed.  I went from standing, to sitting in reflection of how tired I was of fighting the good fight. I looked at the strength of caring staff members who praised God and gained strength through it.

These incredible people who help hundreds of people with no badge, no gun, minimal authority and a shoestring budget, were grateful for being used by our Lord in spite of the monumental challenges they face in helping those in need. I became inspired by them again, I offered my prayer of encouragement for them and was ready to walk the Streets of Skid Row again.

My fiancé walked me all the way back to my station. I walked in with my head lifted.

The good Lord knew I needed to make a connection with him.  Sometimes he sends the most interesting people to lead you there.

To my 70 year old fiancé.  I thank you.

Respect Goes A Long Ways

So I’m driving to headquarters to work the the police commission detail. I hit 5th Street and Main and see these two guys standing on the corner. An attractive Sista walks by them and they begin cat calling her staring: “Hey!  Hey gal!”

She completely ignores them and walks past them. One of the men puts his fingers on his mouth and whistles at her like she is a pet.  She kept it pushing as if they weren’t there. One of they guys under his breath said “bitch.” I stop my patrol car politely and reminded the men that she was a woman. Not a dog. For me to even have to do that was ridiculous. What do guys get out of doing that mess? I get they have the right to do it, but it just seems so ugly to me.

I had one friend years ago who whenever we would hang out, he would stick his head out of the car and yell “HEY!” to every cute girl that passed by. When one would turn around and yell back “WHAT!?”  He would have nothing to say in return. He would just sit there looking stupid AF.

Come on guys. You gotta do better.  The truth is many women don’t like that 💩.  It may work at the club, or on the track, but in real life, you gotta treat the ladies with a bit more respect.

Never Run From Controversy

I shared this with a young woman who felt the need to constantly defend her mother from her fellow students, whenever controversial incidents happen with law enforcement; her mother is in law enforcement. Her mother would tell her not to defend her at all fearing her daughter would be marginalized or targeted. But she could not help it, her mother is a hero to her. She is also interested in becoming a police officer. She asked me how I dealt with being an officer whenever questionable incident occur.

I told her “Never run from controversy. For from controversy comes focus (on you.) From that focus comes your truth.”

We must stand our ground when we are justified in our actions. Always see controversy as a means to educate.

One of The Best Perks of My Job.

I think I have the most beautiful Clergy Council in the City. Just a small group of loving ministers who truly want to be proactive in doing good. No politics, no propaganda, just love and the desire to share it with those in need. Looking back on my career, I’ve been a crime fighter. A service provider, a social worker and even a bootleg doctor. But in 2012 when I was “voluntold” to be the coordinator of this council, I had my doubts. Not in the people, but in myself. “I’m just a cop” who sometimes cussed from years of working the streets. How would I be able to coordinate this group. I don’t have the most polished leadership style.  I’m kind of a wild free radical.

I put my faith in God, and he did the rest. He sent some amazing people my way over the years.  They weren’t famous. They like I, weren’t of the so called ‘elite class’. They were just good people of faith, who did things that the world should know about.

So I will list them:

• They saved lives by stopping the mass casualties brought on by the drug spice.

• Started prayer walks in troubled corners of Skid Row.

• They helped solve a murder through a prayer vigil.

• They brought the community and police together to prevent a Ferguson style chasm between our officers and community members after a shooting.

• They created the Trust Talks to bring many facets of the downtown community together to humanize each other.

• They brought awareness to the fallout of irresponsible giving.

Now moving forward, I cannot wait to see what 2019 will bring with this small group of loving people. I truly want to say thank you to all past and present members of this council from all faiths who demonstrate that we can all come together and love on our fellow man.

You have made my law enforcement career one of great joy and inspiration.

I feel like I work with a quiet league of superheroes of faith.

If You Are Another City, Hospital, or State Dumping Your Homeless Into Skid Row, If You Say You Care About The Homeless.... STOP!

Where do I even begin? Over the past two years I have seen a demographic shift in the Row. True most homeless in Skid Row are from LA County, but I am now seeing new faces and names I don’t know. I see this pattern when they arrive; Upon first arrival, many of them gravitate towards our police station. They sit on the steps to think of their next move in safety. The next day, they find the courage to walk eastbound to shelters. A few hours later, they are back at our station with the look of fear on their face, or the confirmation of the what they feared on their face in the form of a swollen lip or black eye.

I see them when my wife drops me off at work, I approach the steps and greet them. Seeing a muscle bound man with a tote bag causes them to bow their heads, as if I was the goon who broke them the day before. I tell them to stay there and that when I return, I’d have resources for them. They say nothing. Not the typical response I get after 22 years of being like family to the homeless I serve. I sigh, go change into my superhero suit, and return to engage them with resources so they don’t get stuck, but they are gone.

Defeated, I get into my  patrol car to scan the area and I see more new faces. New women crawling out of tents, belonging to men who I know are shady, doing what they have to do to survive I guess. Then the straw that breaks my emotional back, an elderly woman sitting on the sidewalk, tells me she was given a ticket to come to LA because she was told she would be housed there, and that after one week, she was ready to go back to her home state. The state that misled her and threw her away.

To other cities, counties, and states, please hear me. If you actually care about the homeless, as many of your politicians say they do, you would never send them to skid row. Skid Row may be the West Coast Mecca of all things homeless, but in truth, it is no place for anyone to be homeless. Imagine your mother, sister, grandfather, brother, or son being abused over sidewalk space. Imagine them being sexually assaulted in tents. Fathom them being robbed for pennies, or beaten with anything an assailant can get their hands on, and believe me there are plenty of weapons out there. Imagine them catching Typhus, Staphylococcus, or Tuberculosis. Imagine them sharing a used needle and catching a bloodborne pathogen. It is inexcusable to send anyone there. Shame on you for doing so.

Stop throwing them to our wolves, and help them in your backyard!

A Toast...To Toasting?

So I’m at the mall looking for winter wear. I felt it was time to change my style up a bit. I was frustrated. Due to my unique body shape (Thundaliciously thick) I could not find anything to upgrade my sexy. 😢😢😢 I sat down on one of the comfy couches in the middle of the mall and sent some texts. A mom and a very excitable 6 year old sat to my 9 o’clock.

I took a sip from my Dasani water bottle, and the kid just freaks out with glee. He grabs his Dasani bottle and runs at me cheesing from ear to ear. I did not know what was about to happen. He rams his bottle into my bottle knocking off my bottle cap yelling “A toast to water. We like the same water!” I wiped my pants and said “Yeah kid. We do. That’s cool.”  He bumps my bottle again yelling “A toast to cool and water!!!”

Now my smile was for real. His unbridled joy was becoming infectious. He smiled and says “Hey. You got a lot of muscles. You a muscle man!!”  I looked at him and said “Yeah. Kid. I guess I do.”  He raises his bottle. I said “Let me guess. A toast to muscles?” He came a runnin’. “Yes. Big Toast to big muscles.”  After our last toast his mom grabbed him and told him to leave me be. I told her “Ma’am don’t worry. Your kid just made my friggin’ day.”

God bless children. They bring so much joy to the world. He was such a great distraction to the ugliness in the world. 🙏🙏🙏😎😎😎

These Old Police Boots

Had to retire these old boots. Man if they could talk, they would speak of a time years ago when they could protect citizens from the worst of our society. They’d attest to walking families to shelters and the elderly to housing., to running after those who caused fear and harm. They would speak of helping me stand even if it was alone to speak truth to power, to be able to do things no one thought could be done.

These boots would tell stories of the flights of stairs I ran down from a roof, to catch a drug dealer hiding under the guise of homelessness, to drop off drugs to drug programs. Doors I had to kick down to rid hotels of pushers. Protests I had to stand for hours in for crowds who only felt powerful in larger groups, as they verbally abused me for something that happened in another part of the country.

Fights I had to protect the weak from. Tours I gave to educate politicians, college students, and activists with hopes, that my truth would help those with the means to make changes based on truth, not idealism. Boots that bravely walked into a juvenile hall to tell young Black and Hispanic boys, that they were valuable and loved. Engaged in prayer vigils for the homeless. Boots that would brag about kicking 80 drug dealers out of a recovery zone, and brought down one of the biggest drug dealers twice by walking toward building bridges of trust with my community. A community that was once indoctrinated to fear me.

Boots that walked tirelessly on the block to the chagrin of the predatory element. Boots that gave the homeless and recovery community six years of safety that they deserved like any other community. Boots that has been spat on, cursed at, and even prayed over. I guess the latter is how I stayed above water and unsigned by fire.

I can’t even hand them down as they have holes in them and the souls are worn. Hell, they probably hurt me more than they help anyone now a days. Gotta let them go. I can’t just throw them away. Yet, I cannot live or walk in the past.

I threw on my new boots yesterday. The new boots did not feel the same at first, but they looked nice. I felt sorry for them as I shuttered at the new era, they would be walking in. An era where they will be resisted at every step towards creating a safe environment based on the reality of where they tread, by those who are supposed to believe in law and order.

Yesterday, I took my new boots for a spin in this new era. As I drove down one of the last streets in my area that has not been completely decimated by blight and blatant criminality, I saw a man with a broken leg laid out on the sidewalk. Someone assaulted him and robbed him of his crutches. These new boots went to a hospital. They got hime some crutches and provided them to the man. Good job new boots. I think we will get along just fine. It won’t be easy, but the man in the boots refuses to easily give up.

We got some more walking to do.

Police Officer or High Priced Security Guard

With all of the changes in the laws, I can’t help but to feel like a high paid security guard with a gun. Never any career did I ever have to tell citizens, there is not much I can do to help them with crime or quality of life wise. The past few years have been so frustrating.

In my state, it is literally going to get worse before it gets better. I came on this job to save lives, not to coddle criminals. I came to be a part of the justice system, that helps protect the marginalized and voiceless. I did not come on this job to roll out the red carpet for the criminal element to harm people without fear of consequences, based on a false narrative.

It sucks, because I really love my job, but when I’m unable to create a safe environment for the people I serve, It can wear on me. How the hell do you fight crime when the very system that tells you to go fight it, is now fighting you?

I literally dread going to work sometimes. If it wasn’t for the love I receive from my community, I’d probably ve gone. I stay for them because many see hope in me. Say a little prayer for me y’all. I need my head lifted.

Bandaid solutions for a gaping wound

Four years after I wrote about a mental health state of emergency, things did not get better, they only got worse. We now have mentally ill people pushing people in front of trucks and randomly assaulting people at a level I have not seen in 21 years. One day, I will stand in our State Capital and speak truth to power. Our state leaders need to hear about the issue from a boots on the ground perspective. Not an idealistic one. The current system is failing the mentally ill and the community as a whole.

Thought some solutions are being discussed, they are only bandaid solutions to a gaping wound. It’s time for a real conversation.

Me in a Nutshell

I believe in God with zero doubt

I love all, but I sacrifice my values for no one.

I am a man of faith, but I’m not perfect, not by a large shot. That’s why I judge no one.

I’m honest, sometimes to a fault

I carry myself like a King, but embrace being a servant

I’m not the friend who calls you everyday

But if it hits the fan in your life, I will be there for you like no other, If I consider you my friend

I’m fiercely loyal to anyone I love.

I keep secrets entrusted to me, even those of my enemies

I never make a promise I can’t keep, and never break my promises

I’m a simple man, but no simpleton

I have a huge heart, but never take my kindness for weakness

I hate violence, but I have a can of whoop ass at the ready, if you come for me or my family. So just don’t.

I can and will take a lot of abuse, but do not mess with my loved ones

I am a human lie detector

I forgive, but I never forget

I am only loyal to truth and righteousness

I refused to be put in anyone’s box

I’m a loner

I will always stand for what is right, even if I have to stand alone.

I don’t follow trends

I believe in selflessness, not selfishness

I literally do not care what people think about me, but I do care about my fellow man

I like being me

Talking to Black People

So, I’ve been waiting a bit to share this to make sure I processed it right. I never let my anger of any emotion guide me to a conclusion on anything (to the chagrin of many).

Now that I’m calm, her are my thoughts:

So the other day, I was at a community meeting regarding housing. Once of the presenters was a young brother. I could tell he was a young brother. I could tell he was college educated, by his verbal flexing of political buzz words that he seemed to impress himself with. (I am not against college educated people. I just think in today’s times college students are not getting a balanced view of the world.) I mean he used every cliche in the book.

Since it was my first time at this series of meetings, I just closed my mouth and opened my ears. As he went on, he began talking about Black homeless people. It was right up my alley, so I was all ears. He was trying to explain based on what he was told in a book why there are so many African Americans on the homeless spectrum today. He covered the routine reasons of the day. Systematic this, systematic that, institutional this and that. I knew the answer was a simple one, based on what I saw in parts of my city growing up, and what I’ve seen for 20 years on the ground. Clearly he did not remember the 80’s when crack flooded our communities. In some some of these were people who were lower middle class to just above or below the poverty line. When crack hit, these folks did not have far to fall when it came into play. Which helped drive up the numbers of our people ending up in the street because they were disenfranchised addicts, when they lost everything faster than their more well to do counterparts. Then they committed crimes, many times of a violent nature to support their habits, which got them locked up and on an endless cycle.

I wanted to chime in, but he was feeling his presentation so much, I just couldn’t. As he continued he said to his fellow workers. “We need to train all of you non Black people on how to talk to Black people, when trying to reach them.”

It caught my attention and irked me a bit. But I kept my lips sealed. He then said (and I’m paraphrasing) “We must ensure that you speak to Black people in a certain way and we will provide training on this to keep you from unknowingly intimidating them with your privilege.” Or something to that effect. Now, my jaw becomes tight and my blood begins to boil as I pan the audience, which was diverse, but mostly white males and females. The most engaged and gripped by this were the White members. I continued to listen to be sure I wasn’t misunderstanding him. When he said it the third time, I almost stood up to say something. I did not want to be rude. In trying to build relationships, one must not come off as confrontational right off the bat. Even with the best of intentions.

The speaker after him stood up and began echoing the same. At that point I had my fill of identity politics. I stood up and walked away.

As a Black man, I want everyone to hear me on this no matter your race. This is how you deal, treat, reach out to or talk to a Black person, no matter where they are educationally, socioeconomically, or just in general.

Talk to me as you would want someone to talk to you.

Do not try to “relate.”

Do not patronize or talk to me like a child you feel sorry for

Be respectful

Don’t be fake

Do not be condescending

Be the best part of your authentic self as you would anyone you respect as a human. You don’t have to search yourself for bias or privilege before you respect as a human. You don’t have to search yourself for bias or privilege before you deal with me. Just follow the golden rules.

Just treat me, my wife, my kids, my brother, my nieces, nephews and friends as you would treat yours, unless I give you a reason not to.

I’ve been reaching out to Black people for 22 years and have helped many doing just that, by being the best part of me. I’ve seen people from other backgrounds do it as well, if not better, just by being decent.

Woossaa…Now I feel better

The fruits of your labor keep you in the fight

So the other day, I was at a walking event with my Department in the area of 5th and Spring Street. From across the street a woman yelled out to me to get my attention. I could barely hear her due to the traffic. She was pointing to a hotel that she lived in, letting me know she was no longer homeless. She was clean, and though still using the walker standing upright.

About several years ago, this woman was laying in a shopping cart with her legs swelling and dangling outside of the cart. The only way she could get around was from someone pushing her cart where she needed to move. She was sweating and was barely able to talk. She was covered in flies and she was to weak to swat them away from her. Days prior to that, she would walk slowly hunched over a broken walker. She refused assistance and chose to lice in squalor.

As she was in the cart, I grabbed her by the hand and told her I was going to get her help whether she like it or not. She looked at me and told me how embarrassed she was for allowing herself to end up in her condition. she felt guild for not going home with her daughters when they tried to take her home. Sadly, her addiction had too strong of a hold on her.

I called the ambulance and stayed with her. As I heard all of the sirens drawing closer, I kept thinking of all the times I offered to help house her and she refused. I then looked at her face and knew I probably wouldn’t see her alive after the paramedics took her.

None the less, I was and still am a man with tremendous faith in Christ. I prayed for her in my heart and she was whisked away to the hospital. To my pleasant surprise, she saw me months later and told me that I saved her leg from being amputated, and that she was going to reunite with her daughters. As once could imagine, I was on cloud 9.

A year later, I saw her again in Skid Row slumped over a walker, thin and emaciated. I walked over to her and with a weak frail voice she said “I know I messed up again. But I still thank you forsaking me that day. They told me I would have died if you hadn’t called paramedics.” She fell out with her daughters again, and at this point I had no housing resources for her. All I had was the shelter, and she did. not want to use it because of all of the rules.

I continued to watch her decline. I hadn’t see her for a few months until last night. A of now, she is housed and looks great and had to tell me how well she was doing. She looked phenomenal. I never saw her stand so straight before. Addiction and homelessness is a real struggle. When combating it there will be ups and downs, successes and failure. If you embrace challenges like I do, my message to you is to not lose heart when lives you try to build up fall a part.

Just be the constant source of encouragement for them. Don’t judge. Don’t scold. Just love unconditionally and pray. Be loving no matter their stare. They’ll come around one day to remind you of how valuable you are to this world when you care.

Keep her in your prayers y’all

God is good

A walk through tragedy, to a connection with God

So after a few days of meetings, special details and other things, I was finally able to break away from it all, and walk a foot beat in the heart of Skid Row. It was the worst I had seen in years. I was completely disheartened by it all.

I only walked a block away from the station when I was met by the living, breathing embodiment of failure. Along with people with handicaps, the elderly and others, I had to walk in the street due to tents blocking the sidewalk. Every other person I saw had a black eye and as usual, when I ask what happened to them, they timidly put their head down and mumble “I fell,” as a group of watchful, able body intimidating individuals stared them down to endure that was the answer.

I was surprised by the number of women I was now seeing who were bruised, but perked up upon seeing me stride down the street. As if for that moment of brevity, they were safe. I came upon a pile of trash, one of many that nearly came up to my knees. A homeless man said to me as I stared at it, “I’m getting it officer” as he swept mounds of trash left over from good intentions from the gutter. I thanked him and moved on.

I arrive at on of the missions and see a commotion in the street. I approach to de-escalate it and as I got closer, I observed multiple homeless people jostling for clothes that had been dropped off on literally in the street as cars swerved around to avoid striking them, as bouts of tug of war broke out over jeans, blankets and other items. No matter how many times I’ve seen it, I still cannot get over the inhumanity of homelessness, donors dumping clothes in the street for themeless to fight over them like animals, in the name of helping them. If they just would have stuck around a moment to notice that not one of them were without clothes or a jacket.

I knew where those good intentions were going to go as soon as I left. It would be bartered into a meth pipe. As I helped push the clothes and the people back onto the sidewalk to keep them from getting hit by a car. One lady just sat in the street. After a few minutes of coaxing, she got up and ambled away mumbling to herself. As I watch her leave I hear a scream.

An inebriated mentally ill woman was sitting on the sidewalk challenging anyone with the balls to do so to catch her hands as she sipped on a Colt 45. I walk up to her and tapped her on the shoulder. She turns with her dukes up and cane in her hand. All of this while many homeless people greeted me and hugged me.

When she realizes it was me, she gathered herself and tears begin to well in her eyes. “Where you been Joseph? They won’t leave me alone!” I calmed her down and relieved her of her liquid courage. I did not want her to drink anymore to end up a victim or a suspect. Her love for me turned to anger. As she balled up her fist a familiar face decided to come to my rescue.

My 70 year old fiancé attaches herself to me. She was in full mamma bear mode to protect her giant chocolate cub. I restrained her and told her in broken Spanish that I was fine and could handle it. She stood down, but had her own cane at the ready should I need back up.

The angry woman I was dealing with calmed down again and apologized to me, but continued to curse everyone around her. As I walked away she yells “I’m gonna get another beer Joseph!” I walked away shaking my head, but I wasn’t alone. My Fiancé put her arm in my arm and and made me walk with her. I obliged her, because I did not want her returning to the other woman to defend my honor. As we walked, she continued to talk to me in Spanish. Whatever she was saying, it was clear she was passionate about it. I just said “Si” after every pause, not even knowing what I was agreeing to. As we arrive at another corner, I ran into a woman I rescued years ago. She was doing very well. It was a bright spot in the midst of Dan'te’s Inferno. With my fiancé in tow, we walked northbound.

A mentally ill woman who stalked me from Facebook all the way to Skid Row rushed me. She hugged me and said I was her father. My fiancé asked if it was true. As to not hurt the young lady’s feelings and keep my fiancé from thinking I was cheating I said “SI.” I told her to give me a moment with my 32 year old child, and she did.

The young woman grabbed my hand and wanted to tell me about her life and all of the things I missed out on. I did not mind being a surrogate father to her, so she could release her demons. So I listened to this young beautiful Black woman, who had simply been thrown away into homelessness with scars and all. She reeked of urine, but I held my nose and listened until she got it all out. She hugged me again and thanked me for listening. I started to walk away again but my emotions got the best of me. I turned to her and said “young lady, Skid Row is no place for any woman. Please find a way to get the hell of of here. Please.”

I turned and locked arms with my fiancé who wanted me to take her to the Union Rescue Mission. We walked through clouds of spice smoke and large tents to get there. Upon entering the mission with her, my eyes became fixed on the doors of the chapel. I now needed to pray alone so badly, but my fiancé would not let me go. So, I decided to take her in with me.

As I entered, a devotional was in progress. Staff workers are having a praise and worship service, they were singing of how mighty God was, and how he could not fail. The human in me wanted to question it after what I just saw, but my spirit was drawn to it like a flame. I walked in, grabbed a seat with my fiancé and listened to the singing and praise. I began to soften a bit and soon, I was singing under my breath of the greatness of God.

As one of the staff members prayed, my fiancé laid her hands on my shoulder and prayed for me as well. As adorably crazy as she was, she knew what I needed. I went from standing, to sitting in reflection of how tired I was of fighting the good fight. I looked at the strength of caring staff members who praised God and gained strength through it.

These incredible people who help hundreds of people with no badge, no gun, minimal authority and a shoe string budget, were grateful for being used by our Lord in spite of the monumental challenges they face in helping those in need. I became inspired by them again. I offered my prayer of encouragement for them and was ready to walk the Streets of Skid Row again.

My fiancé walked me all the way back to my station. I walked in with my head lifted. The good Lord knew to needed to make a connection with him. Sometimes he sends the most interesting people to lead you there.

Death to prayer in 5 minutes in Skid Row

Okay. I think I’m finally ready to discuss my day.

So, I’m in Skid Row this week, trying just to be a light in a dark place. I’m not going to lie, It has been hard to keep shining based on the systemic failure all around me. The week started out okay, until I get to the Mission yesterday and find out a 90 year old man was dropped off from Anaheim, California to the Mission. He was put out of a care facility because he could no longer pay them. He was in a wheelchair and could not control his bowels. The mission was not equipped to care for the man. I couldn’t just leave him, so I called an ambulance to take him to the hospital. I was livid, but glad the Mission called so we could help him. I don’t get what other cities are thinking when they drip off people who can’t fend for themselves in one of the most dangerous place in the state.

I went home and tried to sleep it off. It worked…kind of. So I buck up and head to work again trying to stay positive. I gave some awesome students from Boise State an educational tour of Skid Row. I was in my zone as I walked them trough the row and along with two other officers received nothing but love from the people I served. I could tell that what the students heard about us was shattered by the support we were receiving as we walked.

My head was lifted again until I came to another mission. As I stood in front of it with the students, I was flagged down by a dedicated staff worker about a woman who needed an ambulance nearby. I was thinking it would be another overdose victim who I could simply revive with a call to the fire department. I was wrong.

On the ground an elderly woman was laying motionless on the ground. A woman told me she had been lying there since 8AM. I grabbed her hand, shook her and called to her. She did not move. I had some hope when she twitched. I checked her finger tips and it was clear she was gone. It was heartbreaking for me that she laid there in crisis amongst so many and no one noticed. was unable to continue the tour with the students. Everything I was telling them and have been trying to tell thousands of people since 2005 was in full display to them. There was nothing more to be said. As another unit took over, I gathered myself and began walking the students to the station in a state of complete sadness.

I didn’t get far as I saw another Skid Row friend leaning as he was about to fall. Two men were in front of him. I figured he was in the throws of the heroin lean and the two men were trying to keep him from falling. I approached them and asked the men if he was ok. They said the man was not in crisis, but he was praying. I had to be sure, so I asked my bud if he was okay. He said “Yes Joseph, I’m praying.” I apologized for interrupting and started to walk away. He called to me and said “I was praying for you Joseph. Come here.” I walked up to him and put my hand on his shoulder. It appeared he was leaning on me, but the truth was, spiritually I was leaning on him. He bowed his head again and prayed for my protection and for God to give me strength to keep fighting for them.

It was as if something inside of him felt I was giving up hope. He got to me in the nick of time.When he was done praying, I hugged this man and thanked him for praying from. On the surface he clearly needed more prayer than I did. I wanted to cry right there in sadness for the tragedy I saw and thanksgiving for the blessing I just received. I walked the students back to the station. My message to them and all who I get the honor to tell the truth about Skid Row was this:

They are the future great minds of this nation. I am limited in how I can help in my uniform, but armed with the truth, not idealism, politics or agenda, they have the power to change this current narrative and fix where others are failing miserably. If I was able to inspire that in them and others, there lies the hope for change. Maybe not now, but with them listening to the hear of a man who has tried for nearly 20 years, maybe later.

To the homeless man who prayed for me, I thank you. You brought me back to life today. Because of you and other angels, I’ll keep fighting. To the woman who passed away, may you rest in eternal peace.

Please pray for the elderly man tonight y’all.

30 Minutes of ______(fill in the blank)

So, I get off work and sit in front of my station waiting for my wife to pick me up. To take my mind off the day, I turn on my Bose Speaker and let some Neo and Classic Soul drown out the negativity. As I sat on the planter,I saw what I thought was a discarded green sleeping bag that was balled up on the steps next to me. I became distracted by a woman who was walking back and forth in front of the station pulling her hair and cursing.

As she passed me I noticed that she was bleeding heavily from her skirt. She was pacing but would not leave far from our station as if somewhere in her mind she knew if she walked away too far, her crisis could get her harmed. I was about to get up to go grab some sanitary items for her, when she saw me stand, she freaked out and walked briskly to the corner cursing and yelling at the top of her lunch to every man she saw. It was clear that a man may have been the catalyst for her emotional trauma. Her voice seemed to be all that she had to lash out at the representation of whoever harmed her.

She did not remember the three weeks before when I gave her shoes. As I sat down, the green mound on the steps moved. A long pair of legs grew from it, then a hand popped out. A gravely voice moaned from underneath. My music stirred him. He didn’t seem to be happy about it. His right hand pulled down the covering from his face. His eyes glared in disappointment that the sun was shining on him. A cruel reminder to him that he was still alive in his own personal hell.

I stood up to see if he was ok He wasn’t. His forehead was split open. Streaks of dried blood tattooed his face. I then heard a scream. A Sista to my left caught the same spirit that gripped the other woman as she began cursing at cars that passed by. Every car felt her wrath, she laughed as in her mind she caused the cars to crash. As I’m watching herI put my finger to my lips as if to tell a traumatized child not to be afraid of the dark.

I pointed to my speaker and she calmed down and began rocking to the music, then singing off key to the Whispers “Lost and Turned Out.” One fire was put out, but the first fire was returning to me. Bleeding worse than before, I tried to get her to look at me with hopes she would remember the big man who gave her oversized kicks to keep her feet from walking on contaminated rain water, that washed away weeks of urine. Maybe if she remembered me she would let me help her again. Our eyes never met, and she became more agitated as she walked past me.

Another homeless woman approached and as she crossed my path, the Commodores “Zoom” came on. She stopped, removed her hoodie and her hips began to sway. A smile crossed her face from ear to ear. Her eye closed so she could feel old memories the song brought back of better days. My wife pulls up in front of the station and I grab my bag to put in my truck. My wife is chuckling at me and the sight of joy coming from a homeless woman who was still rocking rhythmically to a song that was now enclosed in my ride and inaudible. “Why do these things only happen to you?” My wife asked.

As I go to the driver side, I couldn’t leave the man in the sleeping bag without knowing he was ok. “Hold up babe. I gotta check on this cat.” I walked up to him and asked if I could help him. He looked at me and mumbled “no, I’m fine. I just want to sleep.” I asked him again if he needed medical help. He covered his face again “I’m fine. Please go away.”

It was 1997 all over again. Defeated, I got in my car and drove away as quickly as I could in the congested streets of DTLA. Believing the further I got, the better I would feel. I was wrong. As I arrived at Olympic and Grand, a completely nude woman waled calmly through an intersection. Stunned at the sight, I pulled over south of her. I checked my bag for a large shirt to give her. Before I could find one my wife advised that the woman was putting on a shirt she found on the ground. She walked away yelling for everyone to leave her alone. I closed my door and gripped my steering wheel frustrated at the same channel playing in every block. My wife touches my clutched hand and said “Honey, I don’t know how you did this for so long.”

I have 8 years to go. I pray this is solved at some point before I am gone.

Shy one who loves me

I have many drunk friends in Skid Row. Some are outrageous, some are funny, and some…. are seen to the bone. So, Im in Skid Row yesterday and as I was walking the block I see a lady I like to call “ShyShy.” The woman lives off of Old English 800. But she doesn’t hurt anyone or cause problems. She just sits to herself, looks out into the world and smiles. Rarely does she speak or interact with people as she pushes her cart.

For years I would walk past her and she would look at me, smile and cover her mouth. She would look down and give a little :tee tee.” I would always say to her “Hey beautiful. Don’t you hide that smile.” And she Ould lower her head even more. As years went by she continued to do the same with a cup of “stay down” in her hand, and would finally begin to speak. She shocked me one day when I walked by her and said “Hey beautiful. I know what’s in that cup, please poor it out, I don’t want nothin to happen to you.” She smiled, put her hand over her face and said “Hi Mr. Joseph….tee. her.” She would quickly put her head down giggling like a small school girl.

Yesterday, I walked toward her as she ambled down the street. She smiled, bowed her head, and placed her hand shyly over her mouth. Before I could even open my mouth she said “Hi beautiful. You so nice Mr. Joseph.”

She made my entire day. It has been a rough two weeks being back in the row. Before I went to work that day, I asked God to brighten my day. It’s amazing who he sends to do that.

Thank you ShyShy

There is hope in bringing cops together with minority communities

I just left the most productive community meeting I have ever had with young African Americans and Hispanics from urban communities we serve. I learned something. We will never make real changes meeting with professional activists. We have to meet with the every day community member. The gang member, the single mother with three kids and two jobs, the parolee, the homeless, and the high school student who goes to school in a violent community. That’s who we need to connect with. These men we are meeting with are more open minded than any I’ve met. They told us their concerns. They were honest and we were able to explain without a shouting match or hearing someone’s rehearsed statement.

For the first time ever I felt a real connection with community members, who were concerned about police contacts with them. This is how we should proceed. I’m proud of my fellow officers for showing up and listening to these young men today. I am so grateful to these young men for hearing us. They were so understanding.

They all admitted that the media, music and social media was the driving force behind their negative view. I want more of this kind of dialogue. I’m begging for it.

A Lot of What's Wrong in Society from 5 minutes in Skid Row

So I was in Skid Row walking a foot beat and I was anxious to get out there due to working special events and meetings. I missed being around the people, so I grabbed some fliers with a list of programs for the homeless and headed out.

As I exited the station onto sixth street and before I could make it to the corner, I see an officer in foot pursuit of a suspect. Instinctively I ran flank to the suspect and called to him to stop. He looked at me, he recognized me and immediately stopped and laid on the ground. He was take into custody without incident (community policing works folks).

I gathered my fliers and started to head east towards San Julian. As I walked past a blue tent I heard a woman yelling for help. I threw down my fliers and responded to the tent. I removed the tarp that was blocking the screen and saw a naked woman crouched upright in fetal position inside with a man who covered himself with a blanket. I had the woman come out. I then ordered the man out and detained him without incident. Once he was secured I tried to talk to the woman who was so severely mentally ill, that she could not even tell me what happened. As he babbled incoherently, I tried everything I could, even getting a female officer to try to calm her down so I could help her.

As the female officer was trying to help, an idiot who probably spends too much time on Shaun King’s page and kept taunting me because he felt I was racist for handcuffing a black man because the woman who was in the tent with him was white (she wasn’t and it didn’t matter), he even accused me of setting him up because he was black. I confronted him about his bullshit. He continued to rant that the woman was crazy and is always naked. Based on that he thought it was all her fault and that she could not be a victim.

I have grown so tired of people who believe that because a woman is mentally ill or on drugs, that somehow she is less of a victim. It infuriates me when I hear that, because I know that they make perfect victims. I catch myself and go back to the woman who refused to put her clothes on and was now throwing herself into a roll up door. Sadly, because she was so out other mind, we were not able to determine what happened to her. I had to release the man.

As I walk over to unhand-cuff him he said “why y’all got a Black man like me handcuffed and humiliated? How you just gonna harass me for no reason?” Before he could say another stupid thing I interrupted him. “Bro, ain’t nobody harassing you. Put yourself in my shoes for a sec. You are a cop, you walk past a tent and hear a woman screaming for help. What Ould you do?” He looked at me humbled and said “Umm, I guess I’d have done the same thing.” I had no choice but to release him. My focus now was getting the woman some help. We took her to the station to have her evaluated. It wasn’t her first time. She is known by officers and residents alike to walk around nude in on of the most dangerous places in the nation. But as it was initially explained to me, she did not meet the requirements for help. If it wasn’t for her throwing herself against the door and trying to bang her head, I would have had to release her. I took her to the hospital. There I was told (for the millionth time over 20 years) that she would be given a shot and released back into the street in a few hours.

So much failure in a short amount of time. What the system and ignorant people showed me once again, is the following:

  • The system won’t protect the most vulnerable no matter how hard we try.

  • Chauvinistic mindsets are evil

  • Social Justice rhetoric is poisoning the minds of black people

  • The people believe that mentally ill people and drug addicts are not worthy of justice

  • Skid Row in its current state is a health and safety issue for women, men and the mentally ill. If I can’t see them getting hurt in a tent, I cannot save them in most cases.

I’m sick of it all. I’m not going to stop caring, I’m not going to stop fighting. I’m not going to stop speaking out. One day someone will hear me.