ORLANDO, Fla. – Though you may not know it, if you’ve ever sent an email to the Lake County Sheriff’s Office, chances are you were replied to by none other than “DJ Chocolate Thunder” himself.
It’s one of the DJ names for LCSO Lt. Fred Jones, who said he’s otherwise known behind the turntables as “DJ Fred.”
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This week on “Black Men Sundays,” host Corie Murray interviews Jones, a public information officer who spends his time at and away from the office investing in his community, figuratively and literally.
Within Jones’ 25 years in law enforcement, he said mental health has emerged as a fundamental factor in community-engaged policing, describing how de-escalation training may not yet be adequate for real results.
“You’re taking people out there that go through a five-month academy, you know, they get some training in de-escalation, they get some training in emotional intelligence, but yet you still ask them to wear the hat of a mental health specialist, you know? You’re asking us to deal with that. Florida’s ranked 50th as far as mental health funding. 50th,” Jones said. “…You think about this right here. Look at housing, you know? Rentals going up, the price to get into a house, be it Lake County, Orange County, all across the nation. We’re evicting people left and right. We’re evicting elderly people, you know, with no place to go. We’re evicting people with mental health problems and no place to go. So we don’t have all the resources. We’re going to always be playing catch up, but we’re doing the best we can with what we have right now.”
Jones said he’s been a DJ since 1999, which was likely a good time to start, considering the Y2K parties. These days though, Jones said DJing at weddings has become a profitable and fun side hustle.
“My father was a truck driver, and so I used to ride with him a lot… I used to listen to the Kenny Rogers and the Johnny Paycheck and all those- those were in the back of my head all the time, and then I just started listening, you know? I started listening to music. I know people, I can read crowds, that’s a gift that I have, and I learned the music, you know, and I’m surrounded by the country music all the time. In my 20 years of DJing, and I got it written down somewhere, I’ve probably done over 270 weddings,” Jones said.
Adding to his performances, Jones produces a podcast — “It’s Alright With Fred Jones” — and also told Murray about the importance of finding some means to explore the world.
“I think it’s so important, especially as Black men, to travel. Because if not, we get stuck to think that this is all there is,” Jones said. “I’ve probably been to 12 countries that I’ve really enjoyed… I’ll give you one that people will think that you have to worry ‘Danger, danger:’ Colombia is one of my favorite countries, you know, and people think of the cartel when they think of Colombia. You know, I’ve been in Medellín, I’ve been in Bogota, but I tell you, I have never- I feel safer in Colombia than I do in this country right here. What traveling has done for me as a Black man, it shows me that, ‘You know what? Go where you’re treated better.’”
Now around two years away from retirement, Jones said getting his finances and assets in order is top-of-mind.
“What I plan on doing right now is- my house will be very close to being paid off, if not paid off by the time I’m done here, so I’ll probably end up using this as a rental, you know? I do have some land that I purchased a few years ago that I may do something with that. So I’m looking at the future when it comes to that because my goal is to have different streams of income coming in when I retire and not just rely on Social Security, my pension; I want to have those other streams of income, so I’m building those as well,” Jones said.
Black Men Sundays talks about building generational wealth. Check out every episode in the media player below:
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