Deon Joseph is quickly becoming one of the most well-known voices fighting for the dignity of police officers in the country. As a 25-year veteran of the Los Angeles Police Department, he’s well versed in what it’s like to be a cop in America nowadays.
Last month, Joseph wrote an open letter to LeBron James on Facebook following the viral “You’re next” tweet from the NBA star. In that letter, Joseph criticized LeBron and asked for a sit-down meeting to discuss the disconnect between police officers and the black community.
The letter went viral — as it should have. OutKick founder Clay Travis even read it on his morning radio show, OutKick the Coverage. Of course, Clay then wanted to have Joseph on the show, and Friday morning was the day.
This man, Deon Joseph, has spent 25 years trying to keep crime down in the city of Los Angeles, or as he puts it, “trying to keep the wolves from herding the sheep.” He has also spent over 20 years working with homeless people, trying to make a positive impact on their lives as well.
Joseph now also spends much of his time defending police officers, including the one involved in the fatal shooting of Ma’Khia Bryant. Joseph’s support for police ultimately led him to call LeBron out publicly.
“Most men and women who put on a badge and gun are hardworking, dedicated individuals,” Joseph told Clay on Friday morning. “And yes, I acknowledge there’s a negative exception – like there is in any profession – but I just felt his [LeBron James] tweet was highly misinformed and also inflammatory. It could’ve easily put that officer in danger, even though I don’t believe that was his intent.”
Some might disagree and say that James didn’t intend any harm on the officer with his tweet, but the take from Joseph is absolutely fair. His call for dialogue with James came from a place of openness and love, which he pointed out several times during the interview with Clay.
Joseph made it clear that he hasn’t heard from LeBron or the Los Angeles Lakers, and he doesn’t expect that to change. With the way the story has been run, both NBA parties involved would probably rather ignore it.
Clay didn’t want to focus exclusively on that letter to LeBron though. He wanted to get more perspective from Joseph’s experience as a police officer, what he thinks about the relationship between communities and officers, and how that relationship has changed in the last generation.
Joseph’s answer might surprise you.
“Right now, I think it’s fractured, but we don’t even have to go back that far,” Joseph replied. “Pre-pandemic, I think we were having a pretty good relationship. I can’t speak for every department, I can only speak for mine and where I work.
“We were having a pretty good relationship. Right at the start of the pandemic, we’re driving through the streets at 8 o’clock, and people are hanging out their windows clapping for us and thanking us for our service. Prior to the pandemic, we were having regular meetings with all kinds of community members: parolees, gang members. Just having these real conversations and developing great relationships.”
The media likes to imply that only hate exists between officers and citizens. Unfortunately, the pandemic also played a role in creating a divide. Joseph points to the George Floyd-Derek Chauvin case as a turning point in the relations.
“The fallout is people having a negative taste in their mouth about policing for something that I never did,” Joseph said. “That [Floyd’s murder] is something I don’t condone and that my fellow officers don’t condone. That had nothing to do with us, so there’s a lot of damage that’s been done. And it’s not just the George Floyd situation.
“There are other incidents over the years, but they take those incidents and they use that to paint all officers with a broad brush and completely fracture the relationship — to the point where they don’t want us at community meetings. They don’t want us in parks. They don’t want us engaging in the ways that we need to help keep people safe.”
Joseph also mentioned another factor in all of this: politicians. It’s one thing to receive hate from some no-named, misinformed individual who holds no power, but attacks from politicians — people who have power and who should know better — are especially harmful.
“We don’t have leaders, we have followers in leadership positions,” he went on to say.
Well put, Officer Joseph. Well put.
Folks, this entire interview is amazing. Most guests who comes on Clay’s show are great, but Joseph is particularly insightful. He offers a very real, down-to-earth approach to life, and you’ll feel the genuine kindness in his heart when you hear him speak.
AM @outkick is fantastic with LA PD’s @ofcrdeonjoseph WWE’s @BraunStrowman & @jonmorosi on MLB expansion, A’s relocation, and what cities are in line for teams. Go listen & subscribe: https://t.co/e6P3dAZSYD
Follow Clint Lamb on Twitter @ClintRLamb.