In Deon’s time working in the Skid Row community, he found that many homeless people were indoctrinated to fear and mistrust of law enforcement. He saw that the community’s residents were not coming to the police for help and he knew that he needed to be creative in getting them to overcome their distrust and fear. Deon’s current programs focus on community policing at a grassroots level and are designed to empower residents and create change – shattering the community’s shield of fear and paving the way for real impact.
In 2006, Deon began deploying a Mobile Command Station dubbed Old Blue to the Skid Row area. Its original purpose was to be a highly visible deterrent for crime in the most dangerous pockets of Skid Row. When it was delployed, the criminal element would virtually disappear, leaving people who were truly in the immediate area for the services. He discovered that as the criminal element left the block people became emboldened enough to report crimes committed against them, and report crimes in progress. Deon also used the unit to pass out information on shelter, drug, and job program information and even hygiene kits to the community’s residents.
As a result of the detail, community policing has spread beyond the Senior Lead Office to the patrol level. Support from the service provider and the homeless community is high, and a new solid relationship is being forged daily. Since their inception, violent crime has been held to under seven crimes a week.
Though most local police departments have outstanding outreach programs for many youth, Deon found that many African American and Hispanic youths were not participating in the programs based on the same indoctrination and mistrust of the Department. He tried creative ways to try to get African American and Hispanic youth to partake in many programs with the children of the Union Rescue Mission, but the project failed due to lack of parental involvement. He found that the best tactic was to take outreach to the children of Skid Row, and the Just Like U program was born.
After meeting with 25 children from the Mission who wanted to be more than their environment but knew that their chances were slim because their current role models were gangsters and drug dealers, Deon placed role models before these kids. The program has spread from beyond Skid Row to South Los Angeles and Inglewood via the Juvenile Probation System, as well as schools throughout Los Angeles.
This program has reduced the fear of law enforcement with many youth and it lets them know that law enforcement agencies are not against them, and support them in living long lives and thriving no matter their social status or hue.
Officers come across many women who have been victims ofrape, domestic violence, and other crimes against women. In Skid Row, many women have been assaulted physically and mentally, but are afraid to go to the police because they are prostitutes, drug addicts, or on probation or parole. This thinking came mostly from their abusers, and some advocacy groups who pushed this worldview on to these women, until they felt that they did not matter.
After a prostitute refused to let Deon help her after being violently raped because she had warrants, he decided to create a program designed to educate and empower the women of Skid Row. The message was simple; no matter your social status, race, or criminal history, every woman has a fundament right to report domestic violence and sex crimes to the police department. The program also provides them with self-defense training that could add precious seconds to their lives if they come under attack.
Ladies Night has spread throughout the Skid Row community, South Los Angeles, the Wilshire Area, and Long Beach California. Over 800 women have been educated and empowered via Ladies Night. During the program, we discuss the following.
Reaching out and using resources available to the Skid Row community, Deon connects with various service providers and helps guide people of the Skid Row community to much needed services. These efforts have helped him provide emergency housing to over 100 homeless individuals from within the homeless community, as well as referrals to transitional housing programs.
The Open Door Project was created to inform and introduce officers to the local service providers. The effort was designed to give the service providers an opportunity to explain the services they offer to people struggling with homelessness, addiction, and mental illness, while assisting the officers in determining who needs help and how to help.
Deon Joseph currently offers half-day workshops on: Community Policing, Report Writing, Testimony Technique, Organizational Change & Improvement, Motivation & Excellence, or contact us to customize your own half day workshop.
Deon is available to speak at your next seminar for any group who wants to inspire change, specifically:
Meetings and Centers