This morning I started the day by going to the gym and training as usual. I have now started to get to the know some of the guys in the gym and have now also signed up for a 4 month membership – this includes one personal training session which I don’t really want but need to have so I have arranged that for Saturday.
I then drove up the West Palm Beach police department and met with Sgt Nealy again I did a full interview with him and with three other officers about the gang issues and the policing approaches and interventions and the impact they are having. It was very interesting to hear their perspectives on all of this, and particularly interesting was the one interview I conducted with an African American young officer who grew up in the neighbourhood and so has a real insight into the issues that young people and families face.
I then went round to one of the local youth outreach programmes to interview a guy who also grew up in the community and now devotes his life to trying to get these guys into education and employment. It was also a very interesting interview. I then left WPB and drive back to Boca Raton where I managed to sit out at the pool to catch the last hour of sunshine before then going upstairs to have my meal and to do some more work on my book and on preparing my class.
Another day over and tomorrow is the end of January already!
This morning I slept until nearly 9am and then had breakfast and then went to the church. This was my fourth visit to Boca Raton Community Church and today was a family service focused on the children around the world who suffer disadvantage of various kinds. Missionaries and agencies connected to the church spoke about the poverty and disadvantage in third world countries, but then the focus changed back to the USA and the point was made that around 40% of American children are raised without the presence of a father role, and the fact that it is sometimes through the church and that other people can make a difference in these young people;s lives. This made me connect the research I am doing and the disadvantage suffered by some of the young people I am meeting in Southern Florida (which sometimes includes, among other things, the lack of a positive father figure) and their involvement in violent crime. The pieces of the jigsaw are beginning to fit together – what I am writing about in my new book, what I am seeing and hearing out on the streets and with the police and the messages I am hearing in the church. Importantly, the minister and Boca Raton also announced today that the congregation has raised enough funds to donate to the purchase of medical support for the victims of the Fort Lauderdale massacre 3 weeks ago – so there is some really great work going on this church.
I spent the afternoon firstly calling home via Skype and talking for a while with Karen and Alan and secondly doing some work on my book on my wednesday class. I then had dinner early and went round to the gym for an hour – did a workout and then left to go to the cinema just 5 minutes away from the gym and from FAU.
The movie theatre is enormous but I found my way to cinema 4 where I saw Patriot’s Day. The film stars Mark Wahlberg and Kevin Bacon and is the story of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing and the aftermath, which includes the city-wide manhunt to find the terrorists responsible. The film was really great and is a really good portrayal of what happened on the day of the bombings and the careful police and FBI operations in the days following the attack to find the bombers. it was particularly important for me to see this movie tonight since on Thursday Ed Davis will visit FAU to deliver a lecture. Ed Davis is the Former Police Commissioner of the Boston Police Department at the time of the Boston bombing and is portrayed in the film by actor John Goodman.Commissioner Davis is current President and CEO of the business strategy and security agency, Edward Davis LLC. His unique approaches to terrorism, cyber security, and policing have been adopted both nationally and internationally in Singapore, London, Northern Ireland, Jordan and Israel. On Thursday he will deliver a lecture at FAU’s Jupiter campus titled ‘Remembering Patriot’s Day: The Hunt for the Tsarnaev Brothers and the True Meaning of #BostonStrong’.
The film’s backdrop of Boston prompted me to remember my sister Lyn’s great experiences at Harvard in Boston and all the very close friends she made there. I also remembered my own visits there when I travelled from Virginia to spend time with Chris Bellham who lived and worked in Boston at the time. My last visit there was in March 2000 when I spent a week there.
Today I got up around 8am and went for a short jog around the complex where John and Evelyn stay – it is so beautiful there and I enjoyed the views of the marina across from where their house is again. It is such a peaceful and relaxing place. I came back and had a shower and Evelyn went out to her pilates class and John made breakfast – a really great plate of scrambled eggs and peppers, veggie sausages tobacco sauce, toast and a side plate of fruit, orange juice and coffee. All eaten sitting on the terrace overlooking the large lake behind their house – just wonderful!
I left John’s house about 10am and drove down to Palm Lakes where I stopped off to go the large mall there where there is an Old Navy store which I always like. I bought some new jeans, chinos, shorts and tops and a pair of sandshoes. I then drove back to Boca Raton and went to the Hertz rental place and returned my car and took it out again for another 10 days – just long enough until I have my bank card and can book a long-term rental with State employee rates which will be cheaper.
I drove back to the apartment and unloaded all my stuff. I called home and spoke to Karen and Alan for a while – they seem to be getting on OK, but it was strange to see Karen in a heavy wooly and to hear that it is 4 degrees in Glasgow — I am beginning to take this weather I have here in Florida for granted and forget that everyone back home is still suffering the misery of a Scottish January. I then took off for Highland Beach and had a drive-through lunch on the way. I drove past where we are going to be staying and tried to find a place to park to onto the beaches in the Delray Sands area which look lovely. However, it seems that you can only park on the road beside the beaches if you have plenty of quarters to put into the meters – which I didn;t have. I drove back to Spanish Avenue Beach and parked there – I still had to pay but at leas the machines there take dollar bills. It seems that the entire area down on the coast in Boca require you to pay – there are no free beach car parks like the one I found last week in Jupo. This is possibly to ensure that it is mainly local residents who use the beaches and to keep it more exclusive.
I spent a couple of hours on the Spanish River Beach – it was very sunny and I was even in the sea for a while since it was a lot stiller than last weekend. However, coming off of the beach I could feel the temperature had dropped and I think it is to be colder and wet tomorrow.
I came back and had my tea and then tried to go the cinema to see Patriot’s Day – the story of the police response to the Boston Marathon terrorist attack in 2013. However, it was sold out but at least I know where the cinema is now (just 5 minutes drive from where i am) and I bought a ticket for tomorrow evening instead. Ed Davis, who was the Police commissioner in Boston at the time of the attack, will present a public lecture at FAU on its Jupiter campus next Thursday. John is introducing him and fielding questions after the lecture, and as a Faculty we are all attending. So it will be good to see the film before I attend the lecture.
Another good day today.
Today I had a really good day. I began the day by going to the gym ad had a great workout. Then I went to work and worked on my class for next week and on getting some more data collection appointments sorted. Things are starting to come together and I now have some interviews scheduled with police and with other professional groups next week. I had coffee with my colleague Lisa Dario and we talked about some really exciting new research ideas we might do together – looking at police use of Tasers and the use of yoga in rehabilitation programmes in the USA. She also pointed me towards the highest ranking criminology journals in the USA, and so I am beginning to get a better picture of where to direct my work to expand my presence in the USA academic context.
I skyped Karen and Alan and then drove up to West Plam Beach to visit the Girls and Boys Club of Palm Beach County. Th Director was not there but I spoke to the secretary and she told me some information about the programmes they offer. The offices are set in a really lovely backdrop surrounded by greenery and a lake. John had invited me to go and have dinner at his and Evelyn’s in Palm Beach Gardens so I went about bought some whisky and wine for them, went into Dunkin Donuts in Palm Beach County and did a full read of my draft second chapter of my book over coffee – it’s almost finished and I felt pleased with that.
I then drove five minutes along the road to John and Evelyn’s house – it was so nice to be back there again. It is set within such a picturesque and beautiful backdrop. Even the music that plays in the house is so relaxing – artists such as Carol Kidd, Enya and Eva Cassiday. We had gin cocktails which were wonderful and appetisers sitting in the porch at the back overlooking the lake, and then dinner and a movie — the new film with George Cloonie and Julie Roberts (Money Monster). It was a really nice evening.
Today I walked round to the office just before 8am. I did some more work on my field notes from yesterday’s ride along and then Miss Audrey, the School secretary came along to my office with a letter – at last it was my social security card arriving! i then was able to go over to the bank and set up a bank account. After a little bit of toing and froing (they needed my full residential address and not the school office address so I had to call John to get the name of the street and to see if he could find out my mail box number) I finally managed to get my bank account set up – and will receive my bank card in 7 days. Meantime I have now deposited my cheque from Fulbright and can start accessing money!
John and I then met and walked over to the College of Education building. we had scheduled a meeting with the education staff there so that could explore, as part of my Assistant Dean responsibilities in UWS, the possibility of student mobility opportunities and student recruitment within education. I met with the Director of the department of Special Education and the Director of the Department of Teaching and Learning was also there remotely via WebEx. We chatted about new possibilities for early childhood studies students from UWS to come and do some visits to FAU and visit nurseries here and perhaps also BA Education students – with potential for FAU students to do some exchanges and come to Scotland. we also talked about the possibility of a shared Masters module where students from both universities could study together, partly online and face to face, with student visits also built in. These were exciting possibilities, and the next stage will be to arrange a Skype meeting with some of my colleagues in UWS to join in on this discussion in February. It was strange being back in education, having spent the last month in Criminal Justice – almost naturally, I went back into my Assistant Dean role and I enjoyed having these discussions.
After this it was time for me to go back into the world of criminal justice and a drive back up to West Palm Beach – this time to meet Lieutenant Terence Carn who is based in the Pam County Sheriff’s office and is in charge of the gangs unit for the whole county. As a relatively young black officer, it was very interesting to chat to him informally and hear his perspective on some of the issues related to gangs, the attitudes of young men towards the police and the cultural issues that prevent them from ever ‘snitching’. He also talked to me informally about the enforcement strategies in place. This provided an additional, wider insight into some of the strategies I already heard about in west palm Beach yesterday.
I returned back to FAU at 5.30 and skyped home just in time to say goodnight to Karen and Alan. Another busy day and time for an early night!
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.
Today I began the day by arriving in at the office at 7.45am. I had coffee with my good colleague Sigal who is in the office next door to me. we had a really great chat about teaching, research and family life. It is good to be able to catch up informally with people and I am finding everyone in the School so friendly, supportive and energetic.
I worked today on the second chapter of my new book and managed to get a complete draft completed. I had coffee later in the morning with John at Starbucks and we went to the bank together to see how quickly I can get my bank account set up once I have my social security card (which I hope will arrive any day now). It will take no time to the get the account set up, but the bank debit card will not arrive until a week after the account is set up according to the bank teller.
I went back to the office and finished what I was doing then skyped home. Alan had just finished his homework and was enjoying eating his pasta! He said that he and mum are getting on just like ‘two peas in a pod’ but I think there was a bit of sarcasm there! Later on I went over and got lunch – there are so many good places to choose from on this campus and today I had a wrap and a smoothie. I enjoyed the relaxing walk back across campus in the blazing sunshine, surrounded by the greenery of palm trees and the students walking and skateboarding around campus. I couldn’t help thinking what an honour it is for me to be here doing this scholarship – it is very evident to me that John has really shaped the ethos of the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice very carefully through the staff he has appointed – they are all so energetic, friendly and supportive of each other, and I am flattered that John clearly felt that I would fit in to the group. It is a big complement to me.
I finished up work at 4pm and walked back over and sat at the pool outside my apartment for a while to enjoy the last of the sun. I then went upstairs and had a Skype call with my mum – it was great to see her and chat, although her web cam clearly needs adjusting because I could hardly see her!
I then had tea and did work on the review of an article and revisions on a PhD thesis I had examined in Scotland.
Today I also received a parcel – a full sized poster of the TV series ‘The Wire; which now hangs above my desk in my office!
Today I went to LA Fitness first thing and did my training. I quite like it there now, although I am not sure it is the kind of place I would every actually get chatting to people in any great length – so far I have said a few words to one or two people in passing but that is all. I can’t see that I will find the same type of banter as I get in my local Glasgow Club gyms in Yoker and Scotstoun!
I drove back to the campus and walked around to the office. The severe weather that was forecast did not seem to come to fruition – only a bit of wind and a few clouds!
Most people are in the office by the time I arrive on a day when I have been in the gym, and some of my colleagues are in around 7am. I worked on preparing my class for next Wednesday, given that I like to be a little ahead of the students and also because I know I have a lot of other things on this week. At 12pm John Smykla had asked the whole School to gather in the committee room to discuss and reflect on the Associate Professor applicant who visited on Friday, and it was a very interesting experience for me to see the outcome of the process. In Scotland we have a much less rigorous approach in terms of appointing senior staff where candidates come for interview and do one presentation – but do not usually spend a whole day in the department and meet with all Faculty members with a view to them giving feedback about them later. This has been an important learning experience for me to see the process here in the USA – these kinds of experiences are part of the ‘mutual understanding’ that Fulbright is all about.
In the afternoon I worked some more on my class and then met with Seth, an Assistant Professor in the School whose work is focused on policing. He gave me some helpful feedback on my interview schedule I intend to use with police officers in West Palm Beach. Again, the combined experience I have with qualitative research on gangs and policing approaches in Scotland and Seth’s wide experience of American policing and issues related to procedural justice mean that we can share insights and experiences, build partnerships and enhance that focus on ‘mutual understanding’.
I got home at 5.30 and enjoyed my casserole I had made in the slow cooker! I then worked on a book proposal review I had been asked to do for Palgrave MacMillan and a reference for a colleague at UWS.
Today I also received the first mock-up of the book cover design for my brand new book, ‘Young People and Social Control’ that I have written with co-author Kalwant Bhopal. The book, published by Palgrave MacMillan, will be released in July this year. Great to see the cover appearing – now it feels real! And I am already almost finished the second chapter of my next book, ;Gangs and Spirituality’ – which is due to be completed a year from now. Only 8 more chapters to write and I hope to do two more while I am out here.
This morning I had a short jog around the campus – it was another beautiful morning, and then I had breakfast then went to the church. This was my third Sunday at Boca Raton Community Church, and I am still struck by the warm welcome that I receive at the door every week and sheer size of the congregation _ I reckon there must be around 500-600 people there on a Sunday. Today was international day and all the missionaries who represent the church in various countries were there on the stage. This included people from Russia, India and Africa. The sermon was led today by a missionary from Africa and he gave a very powerful preaching on Mark 4: 35-41, the story of Jesus calming the storm. Once again I left the church really uplifted by the hymns and the preaching. It is a real gift to be able to experience a church in a different culture like this and has become an important part of my experience here.
After I’d had lunch I went to Walmart to try and get a cheap phone that I can use here to make and receive local calls. It took about 25 minutes to drive there, and while there I also managed to get a manual vacuum cleaner so that I could get rid of all the crumbs in the apartment. I came back and did some work on my book and made some notes on my visit to the West Palm Police Department last week and then cleaned the whole apartment before trying to set up the new phone. No luck with the latter – don’t know what i am doing wrong, but I am hoping that Ricky in work can help me tomorrow – he is a real expert on all things electronic.
That’s the weekend over and so far no sign of the ‘severe weather’ that was predicted here – just a bit of wind … we will see if the storm emerges overnight.
Saturday 21st january 2017:
This morning I got up early and went to a yoga class just 5 minutes away from campus – it was the wife of the guy who took the class last week who led this morning’s session and it was a good start to the weekend. Then I drove back to the apartment to get changed and then called the owner of the cottage where my mum and sister will stay to see if I could see round it – she arranged to meet me there at 10.30 so I drive round and met her at the front entrance. The cottage looked great – a large garden, nice quiet neighbourhood and three bedrooms – all very bright and nicely decorated.
Then I drove to Delray Beach and went to the Original Pancake House for breakfast – it was great – I had pancakes, eggs and bacon and lots of coffee re-fills!
Then I decided I wanted to go the beach for the afternoon and thought i would go up towards where John and Evelyn stay since I remembered the nice beaches that Evelyn had shown me there. However I ended up going even further than that on the Interstate, coming off at junction 79 and weaving my way round to Ocean Drive. Eventually I found my way to Jono Beach which is just north of Palm Beach Gardens – a really stunning beach, with a long platform going out into the sea for walkers and a some beautiful views of the ocean. I lay on the beach for a quite q while then took a walk along the sea shore. Where i was lying I could hear the entire conversation of an older couple who were sitting close by and sounded as if they may have come from New York – it was quite entertaining for nosy fold like me!
I eventually went back to the car park at 5 and drove back down to Boca Raton – it was a really picturesque drive, as sunset was coming in. It took me just under an hour to get back.
I attempted to find some good TV to watch in the evening but failed miserably – I only have 3 channels on the TV and none of them very good this evening! So I passed the time by drinking several gins and tonic!