week 2 – reading, research, and a trip to SF

Feb 24, 2019


This week has been, as far as weeks go, definitely more eventful than the last.

Throughout the week, I read and eventually finished up another book, The New World of Police Accountability by Samuel Walker, a professor of the University of Nebraska who specializes in policing. From this book, I gathered many important takeaways that will be useful knowledge for me when I begin interviewing. First and foremost, the “heart of the issue,” as Walker puts it, is officers being poorly trained about peaceful de-escalation and communication, and therefore unable to distinguish between situations that actually warrant the use of deadly force and situations that can be resolved in different ways. Through outside agencies dedicated to review and reform, open data to encourage transparency, and making substantial changes to the way most officers are trained, he explains that we can hope to increase accountability and correct the problem at hand. I found this reading very interesting, and have begun to brainstorm questions that I would like to ask the officers and other individuals I plan to interview in the near future.

I also completed some more research regarding the database I aim to create, and I have a general idea of the information that this database will include. While I have begun some very basic coding, until I interview Professor Philip M. Stinson, the former cop who created his own database, Dr. Aaron Shapiro, a professor who specializes in policing, and the actual police officers that I have reached out to, I cannot begin to input information, as I am not extremely sure about the specifics of what I should be inputting.

Lastly, on Friday, I drove up to San Francisco so that I could observe the situation of policing in some of the most “urban” and “unsafe” districts of the city: the Tenderloin and the Mission. While in the Mission, a known epicenter of black and Latinx culture, I managed to grab a few photos of some beautiful murals in Clarion and Balmy alley, one of which is pictured above. These murals illustrate exactly what I am researching: why so many police officers target people of color, and why little has been done about this yet. I also noticed an increased presence of police officers in these two districts (especially in the Tenderloin), likely because of the high rates of poverty and homelessness and therefore the high crime rates. From just driving around these two districts it became clear to me that most of these impoverished individuals were, in fact, people of color, who have likely been displaced as these districts become increasingly gentrified.

While this week was more noteworthy and productive than the last, I am very excited for next week, as I will be conducting my first interview of Dr. Aaron Shapiro. Hopefully after this interview, I will have a clearer idea of how the current political climate is affecting the issue of policing in general, as well as a better idea of the information that will go in my database. I will also be driving up to Oakland with my friend Rithvik, so that we can observe the policing situation in one of the the most charged cities regarding the issues of misconduct and brutality.

7 Replies to “week 2 – reading, research, and a trip to SF”

  1. Rithvik A. says:

    Nice! I’m in this post! In addition to our trip to Oakland, I look forward to reading your interview notes to learn more about police brutality in the Bay Area.

  2. stevenvermouth says:


    This project seems off to a strong start. I think that Walker’s book has a valid point; as these issues are being explored, there is a definite emphasis on deescalation training and prevention measures. These are often compounded when officers encounter someone who is under the influence of drugs or mentally ill, as these situations call for very specific tactics.
    When you come in this week, let’s go over your interview questions. We will work on the rhetoric of your questions and overall interviewing skills and techniques. Keep reading, and I will see you soon.

  3. Vivian Li says:

    Exciting progress! I also anticipate going to SF and Oakland a lot in future weeks for interviews.

  4. Serina K. says:

    Great job Sami! I look forward to seeing your work in the future!

  5. Abby W. says:

    visit me in sf! ur blog is my life <3 but really good work i think that police actions need to be more monitored and their training should be more tailored to helping everyone rather than just certain types of people, so i’m glad your project can bring light to these issues especially in places such as san francisco with a larger police presence

  6. Debora Seys says:

    Hi Sami,

    This topic has a very special interest for me. Alex’s grandfather, my dad, worked with the police on very similar issues – you can read more about him and his work here:


    Good luck with your project, I’ll be very interested to hear more!

  7. David Z. says:

    Make sure you keep yourself safe when visiting these “unsafe” areas.

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