The DSA’s Safety Ambassador Team serve as “eyes and ears” in the downtown area. Although they are not downtown security, they are here to make the community feel safer. Back in February, we introduced the Safety Ambassador program in a blog article. Now, we’d like to give you an update on the program by featuring an interview with one of our safety ambassadors: Dejon Underdue! His enthusiasm and positive energy throughout the interview was infectious, and his passion for the downtown community shone through his words. We’re proud to have him on our team.
Born and raised in Stockton, Dejon pridefully shares, “I like doing things for people any way I can- especially for the community.” Along with his current role as DSA Safety Ambassador, Dejon also operates the Baby Bottoms Diaper Bank, an organization that supplies free diapers for babies and infants for families in need. In the past, Dejon also worked with his family to run and operate a safe haven for victims of domestic violence. When he isn’t helping others, Dejon spends his time making music. In fact, he’s a three-time Grammy nominated musician and producer! Whether he’s patrolling downtown areas, lending a helping hand to others, or even working on producing music, one thing is clear- Dejon is passionate about giving back to the community.
WHY HE BECAME A SAFETY AMBASSADOR
Dejon first heard about the Safety Ambassador program earlier this year from his mother, and landed the position in early February. After completing his first training during a shift, he reflects, “I loved it.” Dejon expresses that the role can be challenging at times, yet fulfilling, as he’s, “always down for things that make me [him] think; things that require judgment calls.”
Communicating with those in the community is another reason Dejon is so passionate about his role, as he enjoys, “dealing with different people.” He explains that Safety Ambassadors work to connect individuals in need to various resources, such as shelters or food banks. They also help in other ways, including but not limited to helping fix flat tires or escorting people to their cars at night. The assistance they offer, “takes a lot of stress off of people…makes life easier for people.”
IMPACT ON THE COMMUNITY
From when the Safety Ambassador Program was first implemented in February to now, Dejon shares that the difference is like “night and day. Now, people are coming up to us all the time saying, ‘we can actually walk around at night now!’” He’s happy that the Safety Ambassadors are making a difference, and wants everyone in downtown to know, “I’m here to assist and I’ll be here every single shift.”
In addition to helping community members feel safe, Safety Ambassadors also work closely with the Stockton Police Department. Officers are grateful to have their help, as the ambassadors can take care of smaller matters (loitering, escorting, etc.) and can also quickly alert and inform the police when a situation arises.
LOOKING FORWARD TO THE FUTURE
When asked what he’s most excited to see in the future, Dejon answers that he wants to see a decline in loitering and hopes to continue, “guiding people in the right direction.” In regards to the program, he says there is, “so much we have planned and so many ideas for the future. I’m excited for the future.”
So the next time you’re downtown, you may see Dejon during one of his shifts, or you might catch him grabbing a bite at Port City Sports Bar & Grill (after all, he says, “I find myself spending half my paycheck there!”). If you do run into him, don’t be afraid to say hello!