I had a very interesting and packed day today. It began this morning, after I had been to the gym, when I dissevered I had a parking ticket and when I investigated further to turned out that I have been parking for 3 week in the wrong car park which belongs to West Palm State College and not FAU and have just been lucky not to get a ticket before. I went to the office at the college and explained I am from scotland what I have been here to do and that I didn’t realise that I was not able to park there and they waived the ticket. I was then sent to the parking unit at the other end of campus to apply for a parking permit. Eventually, after they contacted the School office to verify who I was they were able to issue me with one. The outcome is that I now need to park further way from the portent block, since the permit is for red parking lots only – it only take a few minutes to walk so it is OK.
I then arrived at work and then taught my class at 11am. The class was really good and the students are now assigned into the group project groups, each with a graduate student assigned to them. we had some great discussion about contemporary theories on gangs, which theories work best, and then deconstructed and critically appraised the work on Elijah Anderson’s code of the street and John Pitts’ ‘Reluctant Gangsters’, alongside a rejoinder by Simon Hallsworth. The students were quizzing me about which side of the ‘fence’ I sit on – the left critical criminology side (as per Hallsworth) or more towards the right (as per Pitts). I told them I tended to be at the centre, perhaps with a slight veer to the left at times although I did not fully agree with Hallsworth’s perspectives. The Graduate students and I went for coffee during break, and we wrapped up the class at 1.50.
I then travelled to West Palm Beach to work with the police there. I arrived at 3.30 and went out on a full ride along with the sergeant in charge of the gang unit. we went all round the housing projects in WPB and I was able to observe all of the interaction between the officer and the local young males out on the streets. I got a real sense that policing there has really begun to focus on community approaches and the sergeant actively spent all his time building positive engagement and relationships. This is an interesting development and is perhaps in many ways in response to some of the issues that have arisen in terms of tensions between the police and local communities, as well as the realisation that the system needed to pay closer attention to prevention of offending and reoffending.
We then drove to a local community hall and I got to observe a ‘Kids and Cops’ community meeting, where lots of police officers got round the table with first time young juvenile offenders, parents, defence lawyers and attorneys to engage in active discussion and sharing of ideas. This is an initiative where juvenile offenders come along and engage in these meetings as part of their community service. There was wide-ranging discussion abut what they think about the police and how officers and members of the communities can begin to work together to try an resolve some of the issues.
I drove back and arrived back at FAU at 9.30pm. I wrote up some of my field notes from the day and was then knackered – it has been a busy day, but I now feel my research is really underway.