By: Officer Deon Joseph

Two weeks in from vacation and my work was definitely cut out for me. I came back with a lot of energy. It only took two weeks for it to weigh on me a bit. 

Today was my day off. I had to drop my “boo” off at work because her car was down. I realized I left an important document I needed to study at work, so I drove a few short blocks to the station. 

I took in the sight of all the blight being allowed just east of the bustling towers. I saw a gang member I kicked out of the area slinging cocaine behind a drug program, because per a very uniformed judge, banning drug dealers away from drug programs is “not constitutional.” 

I watched him go from tent to tent making deals and laughing. I shook my head and drove off. I hit 5th Street, and see more of his associates loitering in the area. Further east I could see more tents than when I left for vacation. 

In my head, I was ready for another vacation. I parked in front of the station and exited my car. A skid row bud of mine saw me in the lobby and stopped to hug me. She wanted to talk to me, but I needed to rush to the restroom. I got my document, and then walked back into the lobby en route to my car. 

My friend was still in the lobby waiting for me. She hugged me again and said “I turned 40 today.” I hugged her again and told her happy birthday. 

She then said, “I have some good news... I’m finally off the streets. I live with a friend in her apartment until I can get clean and go back home to my parents.” 

I congratulated her and pressed on to my car. She followed me. As I started down the steps, she called to me. “Uncle Joseph. There is something I want to tell you.” I was dreading what she was going to say. Most of the time she ends up telling me of being sexually violated or physically abused or that she suffered another miscarriage from being kicked in the stomach. As down as I was, my heart just couldn’t take it at that moment. Because I knew I’d want to suit up and try to fix it.

She then said to me “Uncle. You have known me since I was 19. You have been the only good I have known all of these years. I just remembered that I never took the time to thank you for keeping me safe and looking out for me. I know I’m a trip. I know you want me to get my stuff together. But we feel safe when you are around. We all can’t say it out loud... You know why. But you are my family Uncle. If my parents never take me back, I know I still have you.”

I gave her another hug and drove home fighting back tears. I won. Again, I hate crying. I feel weird afterward.

The fruits of my labor may not be impressive to some. But they are important to those who matter. 

My work is nowhere near done and may never be done. But it is never in vain.