Author Archives: Ross

Wednesday 26th April 2017

Today I began work at 9am and spent time finishing off the marking of graduate essays and preparing my final lecture to be held next week.

At 11am I went to class and today’s session was purely focused on the undergraduate students making their final presentations – they were all excellent and they all got very good marks. I went for coffee with the graduate students and then went back to the office and finished off entering all the student grades into the Canvas system.

I then had a visit from David, who is a corrections and probation officer and who I had arranged to interview as part of my research. This took about an hour. Then I invited John Smykla to come over to my apartment and have food with me – I made him some pasta, peppers and onions and a pasta sauce and I had the rest of my chilli. Then we strolled back and attended the presentations by our Capstone students along with several other Faculty. These are graduate students who do a community outreach project with research attached to it instead of doing a dissertation. The presentations were great and focused on community issues as wide and varied as supporting the elderly against scams, preventing cruelty to animals and supporting youth. Several of my own graduate students were in the class presenting.

I walked back over to my apartment at 8.45pm.

Tuesday 25th April 2017

Today I went to LA Fitness and did my leg workout. I chatted to my pal Pete and we arranged to swap email addresses to stay in touch – he leaves Florida next week to go back to Boston. I then left and drove up to West Palm Beach for my final visit to the WPB PD. I met with the Chief, Sarah Mooney, who I had never met before. I did an interview with her and got photos taken with her. It was great to meet with her and hear her views about community policing and the innovative work she is trying to promote, and which I have seen in many forms during my work with the department over the last few months.

I left the police department, stopped off and got some soup and then went back in the car to Boca. I walked across campus to the office and spent the afternoon working again on student essays. I also had a good chat with John. I walked back over at 4.45 and went down and sat at the pool for q while while my rice was cooking to go with the chilli I had made in the crock pot.

After dinner I went for a stroll round the campus, it was such a beautiful evening. I walked all round the stadium where Alan and I had visited, and walked across to the social science building and back. It is is true to say that you really start to appreciate things even more when you know you are losing them – I just feel very relaxed now, knowing that I have achieved everything I came here to do and am beginning to really realise how much of a wrench it will be to leave this beautiful place and all the people I have met and the routines I have established. But, on the other hand it will be good to be back with my family in a ‘normal life and to see Scotland again and at least it will be coming into summer when I come home. I certainly think I came here at the right time – the weather is now getting very humid here and with that comes more rain – there has been rain most days at some point for the past 10 days, apart from today. January – mid-April definitely seems to be the best time for weather here.

I came back to the apartment and did some more work before bedtime.

Monday 24th April 2017

Today I went into the office at 8.15 and spent a good part of the day marking graduate student essays. I also wrote letters to all of the key people within the agencies I have worked with, thanking them for all their support, e.g. the Sheriffs, Chief of Police and sergeants and Captains I have worked with. This took some time and i then asked Audrey in the office to send them out for me, on headed letter paper.

I went to the bank to look into the arrangements for closing my bank account and also chatted to John and various other faculty members. I walked back across campus at 5 and had my dinner and then went to my yoga class – it was really good but quite physically challenging tonight!

I came back and did some more work and then got to bed after 11.

Sunday 23rd April 2017

Today was the wettest day I have experienced here so far, with rain all day and never ending. I went out for breakfast int he morning to Denny’s and then went to church – the rain had kept some people away and the congregation was smaller than usual.

I came back to the apartment and spent the afternoon cleaning the place, doing laundry and then doing work on my laptop. I went to the gym at 4.30 and then came back and had dinner then did more work and then went to bed and read for a while.

By the end of the evening the skies has cleared and the forecast looks better for the days ahead.

Saturday 22nd April 2017

This morning we all got up at 6am and had a quick coffee and scone and then Paula drove us downtown to look for my mural again. We took one drive to the exact spot that Dan had said the mural was at, and realised that it had been painted over – there is now a brand new mural where the stop the violence sign once was! We then drove on to the airport, and I said my goodbyes to Frank and Paula who have been so kind to me and are such great people.

I had breakfast in the airport at MacDonald’s and then my flight was on time. I arrived back in Fort Lauderdale about 11.40am and had a while to wait for a shared taxi. Eventually I got one at 12.40pm and shared with 3 other passengers. I got dropped off at FAU at 1.30, got back to my apartment and unpacked and had lunch.

Today was the Owl’s spring practice game where people can come into the stadium for free and so the whole campus was full of cars and loads of people about. Bruce from the School and his wife and their friends had set up a tailgate party across from the stadium with margaritas and lots of burgers, chicken and various other barbecue food. I joined them for a while and had some food. I then drove to Aldi and got some groceries, drove back and had my dinner and then had a couple of gins and tonics while I did some work on my laptop in the evening.

Friday 21st April 2017

Today I got up and went downstairs and had breakfast with the Cullens. Paula had made eggs, bacon and toast and Frank and I sat and ate together.

I then got dressed and then Frank drove us into the University of Cincinnati. On the way, we went through the downtown area of the city and into Over the Rhine – this was where I had done a lot of the fieldwork for my 2013 book ‘Policing Youth Violence’ and I was particularly interested to try and find the ‘Stop the Violence’ mural that I had taken a photo of there and that eventually became the cover of the book. I had the idea that it would be good to get a photo taken there holding my book up, with the mural in the background. We weaved our way all round the community looking for it, re-visiting places I remembered so well like Finlay Market where the CIRV office used to be located. I noticed that the office was no longer there, and had heard from colleagues last evening that the initiative was no longer in operation because of various other political developments. Try as we might, we simply could not find the mural but I did notice many changes in Over the Rhine – a huge gentrification project has clearly taken place whereby new houses had sprung up, buildings had been renovated and there were fewer people hanging around on street corners However, once we got further north I could see that the poverty and disadvantage was still there, and realized that the gentrification process had simply led to the displacement of poverty further north.

We arrived at the university, parked the car and went into the School of Criminal Justice and I also saw a huge change there – a big modernization project has taken place since I was last here, and the offices and classrooms are fantastic – really modern and totally transformed from what I remember, Frank took me round and I met several familiar faces like Mike Benson and John Eck who I met back in 2011 and 12. We went into Frank’s office and had lunch and he showed me some of the books, posters and gifts he has collected over the years. It was a real honour to be his guest here, given his long track record and profile as one of the world’s most leading and distinguished criminologists.

At 1.30pm my presentation took place, with around 30 people in attendance – a range of staff members and graduate Doctoral students from the school. I shared my research and insights from Scotland on police use of stop and search, its relationship with procedural justice and impact on police/youth relations. The talk went well and there were lots of questions and great discussion afterwards. Frank introduced me and gave a vote of thanks at the end. There is a great culture here of building a vibrant Postgraduate student community and students are highly involved in working with faculty on publications, teaching and moving on a journey towards becoming full-time academics themselves. It is very inspiring to see this type of ethos, and one that Frank clearly still thrives on.

Afterwards, several of the students waited behind to talk to me and then Frank and I thanked Janice Miller, the school admin coordinator for all her help in setting everything up for today before going over to the bookshop where I bought a couple of Cincinnati Bear t-shirts – one for myself and one for Alan.

 

We drove back to the Cullens’ house via Over the Rhine again. I had received an email from Dan Gerard, former captain from Cincinnati Police Department who now works for the university, in response to my earlier email asking about the email. He said it does still exist and gave me the exact street where it was located. However, Frank and I share several things in common – our passion and talent for criminology research, our interest in tennis, our tendency to be organized and methodical in our work but also our lack of a sense of direction while driving! Weave in and out the streets of over the Rhine as we might we could not find the mural. I called Frank’s wife Paula who guided us around over the phone, since she has a great sense of direction (reminding me very much of the respective talents and skills of me and Karen). However, we still could not find it and got lost several times in the process.

We got back to the house and Frank had invited three of his graduate students to come to dinner. The three female students are all doing their Doctorates under Frank and were great company – Hannah and Amanda were both American and Heejin was from Korea. We had a lovely meal and great conversation until after 11pm when they left.

After this, it was time for bed. I had received another email from Dan giving me the exact location in the named street for the mural, so Frank and Paula said we could go there before going to the airport in the morning to have one last go at finding it – meaning a 6am start tomorrow. Frank and Paula said that it would only take us 15 minutes more to go there via the airport.

 

 

Thursday 20th April 2017

This morning my shared taxi ride arrived at FAU about 9.15am, to take me to Fort Lauderdale airport and go to Cincinnati. There was one other man in the car when we left and then we picked up another older  couple just outside Boca Raton. I could tell from the moment that the woman came into the cab that she was going to be very talkative and sociable, since her opening lines were ‘someone’s got nice cologne!’ As soon as I opened my mouth she started to ask me where I was from, and that started a long conversation. She told me she was age 66, half Italian and half American, she and her husband lived for two months of the year in Rome, several months in Florida and several months in other parts of the US. She then began to ask me all about Scottish independence. She then talked about the Queen and told me that Prince Harry had publicly announced this week that he had suffered from mental health issues for many years after his mother’s death (something I had not heard about) and that Theresa May had called a general election (something I also had not heard about – it’s amazing how out of touch I have become to what is going on in the UK!) She then went on to talk all about Trump and how much she dislikes him, how much she supported Hilary and loved Obama and had written a letter to him thanking him for all he had done. Meanwhile her husband kept completely quiet for the whole journey. By the time we got out the taxi at the airport I think I knew everything about her — it reminded me of being in Glasgow!

I got into the airport and had something to eat and drink and called Karen and Alan via FaceTime. I then got on the flight about 12.30pm. the flight was good and took about 2.5 hours, arriving in Cincinnati at 3pm. As we flew in, I felt nostalgic seeing the Ohio river again – it is 5 years since I was last here, in May 2012 when I was collecting data for my book ‘Policing Youth Violence – Transatlantic Connections’ which was eventually released in October 2013. At that time the CIRV project was being implemented by the Cincinnati Police Department and I spent time in the city observing police practice and conducting interviews with offenders and social service agents – and even got to observe a drug raid in the city.

I got a taxi to the house of Frank Cullen, Distinguished Professor of Criminology at the University of Cincinnati. I first met Frank when I was here for the first time in March 2011 and have continued to keep in touch with him and to meet up with him at American Society of Criminology conferences held in November each year. He is one of the top names in criminology across the world and a very kind, supportive guy – someone who is always interested in helping people and he has always taken a genuine interest in my work. He had kindly invited me to come and give a lecture at the University tomorrow and to stay with him and his wife Paula. His house is located about 30 minutes from the airport on the east side of the city. He greeted me in the drive as I pulled up and I went in and met his wife and their little Chihuahua dog. He showed me up to my room on the third floor of their house and then I went downstairs and had a chat with him. Frank is a huge tennis fan and so I was not surprised to see that he had the Monte Carlo Masters on TV. His favourite player is Federer but he also thinks that Murray is currently the best in the world. We chatted about tennis and also criminology and then we all got ready and got in the car to go to a local restaurant for 7pm. There we met Frank’s colleagues Jim Frank (who I remember meeting before in 2011 and 12) and another of his newer colleagues from the university called Cory Haberman. We had a lovely meal from a specialised ‘restaurant’s favourite’ menu whereby you got shared flatbreads to share and then salad, followed by an entree and then two sweets. Delicious!

We had a good chat during dinner, and I learned that the CIRV project is no longer operating. Lots of changes have taken place within the Cincinnati Police Department since I was last here, and the number of shootings in the city has recently spiked. Robin Engel, who I worked with closely when I was doing my research here, is still in the University but doing a different job and is out of town this week so I will not see her. Dan Gerard, who was the Captain at the police department when I worked here, is now employed at the university but is also out of town.

Frank, Paula and I left everyone at 9.30 and drove back to their house. Tomorrow, I am looking forward to returning to the University of Cincinnati and hopefully seeing a little bit of the city in passing.

 

Wednesday 19th April 2017

Today I went to the gym first thing in the morning and then drove back to campus. For the first time in ages, I only had to walk across campus to get to work and didn’t have to travel anywhere else today. I got in, and did some final edits on my latest book chapter before class. Today, my undergraduates were taking their exam and so at 11am I distributed the papers and the exam lasted around one hour. I gathered in the papers and then three of the groups were due to give presentations today, supported by their relevant graduate student. The groups presented really well and demonstrated a good knowledge of the issues they had researched.

I left the classroom at 1.20, went and got lunch and then went into a meeting in the conference room with Cassandra, who was giving the students who are travelling to Scotland to do a field trip in June some information on what to expect. She had asked me to come along and say something about Scotland. The students are going to be at Napier University this year for the first time, not UWS as they normally would since the field trips are now going to be shared between UWS and Napier. I talked to the students about Edinburgh, told them they should go and see the castle and the Scottish parliament, told them about the souvenir shops and the tartan memorabilia and tried to describe haggis to them and recommended they should try it. I don’t think they were convinced! I also talked to them a little bit about the criminal justice system in Scotland, the children’s hearing system and welfarist approach to youth justice.

After the meeting I met with Lisa, one of my graduate students, who took me across campus and showed me where the student support office was so that I could collect exam scripts for two of my students who have additional support needs and had sat their exam in private. We walked back to the office and I then met with Bryan Kummerland, the former Chief of West Palm Beach Police Department. Bryan has now retired but is an Adjunct Professor at FAU  and had agreed to do an interview with me. The interview took about 40 minutes. I then marked all my exam scripts before leaving the office just after 5. A busy day!

I walked back to my apartment, had my dinner and then went back out to go to the study group at Boca Raton church – the first time I had managed to get to this since February. Bob and the other guys were pleased to see me and we had a good session. At the end, Bob asked if we had anyone we would like him to pray for and I asked for prayers for my friend David Ferguson and his wife Lorna and 4 sons. David is a missionary attached to my own church, St Paul’s in Milngavie, and has worked and lived in Japan for the past 20 years with his family. He has had a long battle with cancer and two of the guys in the group, Bob and also another young guy called David, kindly prayed for David, Lorna and the boys. This was very poignant for me – during one of my many texts with David while I have been out here, I reminded him in January that it was 20 years since I had participated in the Alpha course at St Paul’s church, where David was my group leader in a setting quite similar to the type of study group I was in this evening. He and Lorna also first created Sun Kids, the children’s outreach group in St Paul’s, and inspired me in my own work as coordinator of Sun Kids which I did for about 8 years.

I left and got back around 8.15pm and spent the evening packing and getting ready for my trip tomorrow to Cincinnati.

Tuesday 18th April 2017

Today I had a Skype call in the morning and that took until 10am. I then drive back up to West Palm Beach to Gun Club Road and met with the Captain and the staff in the jail again and continued to do my interviews with inmates. I managed to get two more done and also interviewed one of the sergeants. That should be my interviews with gang members complete now.

After that, I drove back down the road and had my dinner. I made sweet and sour chicken from a recipe Karen gave me – it was lovely! I then went to my yoga class which was really relaxing.

I came back and finished off some work before bedtime.

Monday 17th April 2017

Today I entered week 16 of my Fulbright scholarship period here in Boca Raton. I drove up to West Palm Beach for 9am to go to Gun Club Road where I have been many times during my trip, today to meet with faculty there to get a full tour around the County Jail. I arrived at 8.50am and met Cassandra, Lincoln, Will, Seth and Lisa along with members of the criminal justice department and went in and met the corrections officers there. These were the same guys I had met with when I was conducting my interviews with inmates a few weeks ago.

The guys took us all round the jail and this was a really interesting experience for me since I had never properly seen the inside of a county jail in the USA before. Generally, the jail stuck me as quite basic and a little primitive in places compared to some of the prisons I have seen in the UK and certainly in Denmark. The recreational areas are mainly used for basketball and have no equipment in them, and when we got down to the solitary, maximum security section it was very traditional – with iron gates and bars, and prisoners housed in multiple dorms which looked very basic. We even saw some inmates having showers as we passed. We saw a restraining chair where some inmates are held for up to 4 hours if they have displayed very disruptive/violent behaviour, and the keys that are contained in glass panelled security cabinets look very traditional – the real ‘jailer’s keys’, unlike the electronic cards that I have seen used in other prisons I have visited in Europe. We also saw a display cabinet with lots of examples of contraband in them – make-shift weapons smuggled into the jail and shoes that have had concealed drugs within them etc. Visitation is done purely via video – so inmates can go up to a row of screens and lift a phone and communicate with their visitors but are not permitted to actually meet with them, because of the history of drugs being smuggled into the jail in the past. This was a fascinating experience for me and helped me to see the big differences between the US county jail system and the prison system in the UK and other parts of Europe.

I then left the rest of the team and went with the corrections officers to get ready to conduct more of my interviews with inmates. First I had lunch in the officers’ room, and managed to get a connection for my phone and get onto Facebook while having lunch where I had a few messages with my good pal John Peebles, who is currently in Tailand and was 11 hours ahead of me in time and just getting ready to go to sleep.  It is amazing that we can communicate around the world so easily these days. We texted each other a few times and he was amused to hear that I was texting him from jail!

I then went to the interview room, leaving my phone and other belongings behind and conducted 3 more interviews with inmates. Again, these were all very interesting. I also interviewed one of the sergeants. I now have 2-3 more interviews to do, and will return tomorrow to complete them.

I drove back to FAU for about 4.30, did some work, had my dinner then went over to the office to photocopy my exam scripts for the students who have their final undergraduate exam in class on Wednesday. I met John who was just finishing his teaching and he gave me a lift back over to the apartment.