Thursday 19th January 2017:
This morning I went to the gym first thing and used my week-long pass again. Then I drove to West Palm Beach – it was an easy drive, straight up on the i-95 to junction 70 which took about 30 minutes. When I came off at the junction, the road where the police office is located was just around the corner. Luckily as I drove into a space, a man came up to my window and told me he still had over an hour on this meter and I could take his space. This was good because I then realised that the meters involved phoning a number to pay for parking, and if you don;t have an account you need to download an app. This allowed me the time to go in and introduce myself in the station, and the girl behind the desk then advised me that I could park in a multi-storey car park round the corner – so I went back out and moved my car.
When I went back in, I was shown up the second floor where I met Sergeant David Lefont. He showed me around the entire police office – the fingerprint unit, surveillance unit, firearms unit etc. I talked to him a little bit about my research, and he then introduced me to Sergeant Bill Nealy who is in charge of the gang operations in the city. Bill is extremely tall and looks like he could be about 6 foot 9! He introduced me to the gang structured in WPB, describing them as ‘neighbourhood-based gangs’, showing me their territories on a map and some of the activity they have on social media. He described some of the intervention and prevention work the police have been doing with several other partners. We arranged for me to go back next week to begin my work, including some ridealongs and interviews. I met several other staff members in the station and everyone was very friendly and welcoming. I was even shown how to access wifi in the station, and I have a feeling I will be spending quite a bit of time there working with the officers and looking at the work they are doing to reduce violent crime.
I then took a very quick walk around the downtown area of WPB before going back the car and driving back down the interstate to Boca Raton. I spent the afternoon making some calls to the West Palm Beach Sheriff office and working on my writing. I then skyped back home and talked to Karen and Alan and even got to say ‘hello’ the gerbils before enjoying an hour out at the pool before tea time.
At dinner time I tuned in to the national news and saw all of the build-up to tomorrow’s Presidential inauguration.