Orlando, Fla. Although you may not know it, if you send an email to the Lake County Sheriff’s Office, chances are you’ll get a reply from none other than “DJ Chocolate Thunder” himself.
LCSO Lt. Fred Jones, who said he’s otherwise known behind the scenes as “DJ Fred,” is one of the DJ’s names.
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This week on “Black Men Sunday,” host Corey Murray interviewed Jones, a public information officer who spends his time figuratively and literally outside the office.
Jones said that in his 25 years in law enforcement, mental health has emerged as a fundamental element of community-based policing, explaining how de-escalation training may not be enough for effective results.
“You’re taking people who go through a five-month academy, you know, they’ve had some training in frustration, they’ve had some training in emotional intelligence, but you’re still asking them to wear a mental hat. Do you know a health professional? They are asking us to deal with that. Florida ranks 50th in mental health funding. 50th,” Jones said. “…so think about it here. See housing, you know? Rising rents, housing affordability, Lake County, Orange County, across the country. We are displacing people left and right. We are evicting elderly people who have no place to go. We are evicting people with mental health problems who have nowhere to go. So we don’t have all the resources. “We’re always playing hard, but we’re doing the best we can with what we have.”
Jones says he’s been DJing since 1999, which was a good time to start considering the Y2K parties. Nowadays, Jones says DJing at weddings has become a lucrative and fun side hustle.
“My dad was a truck driver, and I used to ride with him a lot… I listened to Kenny Rogers and Johnny Paycheck and all that stuff – they were always in my head and then I started listening, you know? I started listening to music. I know people, I read a lot of people, that’s my gift, and I’ve learned the music, you know, and I’m always surrounded by country music. In my 20 years of DJing, and I’ve written it down somewhere, I’ve probably done over 270 weddings,” Jones said.
In addition to the show, Jones also hosts a podcast – “It’s okay with Fred Jones.” – and also told Murray about the need to find some method to explore the world.
“I think it’s especially important to travel as black men. Because if not, we’re stuck thinking that’s it,” Jones said. “I’ve probably been to 12 countries that I’ve enjoyed the most…I’ll give you one that people think you should worry about, ‘danger, disaster’: Colombia is one of my favorite countries. And when people think of Colombia, they think of cartels. You know, I’ve been in Medellin, I’ve been in Bogotá, but I can tell you, I’ve never felt safer than I do here in Colombia. What a journey it made for me as a black man, ‘You know what? Go where you are treated better.’
Now nearly two years away from retirement, Jones said getting his money and assets in order is top of mind.
“What I’m planning to do now — if my house isn’t paid for when I’m done here, it’ll be pretty close to being paid off, so I can use this for rent, you know? I have some land that I bought a few years ago so I could do something with that. So I look to the future when it comes to that because my goal is to have multiple income streams in retirement and not just rely on Social Security, my pension; I want to have those other income streams, so I’m building those as well,” Jones said.
Black Men Sunday It talks about generational wealth building. Watch each episode in the media player:
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