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Student Research | The Problem Properties Task Force

An interview with Riley Tucker, a doctoral student in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, on his research about “problem properties” in the city of Boston.

What are you researching?

Beginning in the Spring of 2020, I have been working under Dr. Dan O’Brien on a NSF-funded collaboration between the Boston Area Research Initiative and the City of Boston’s Mayor’s Problem Properties Task Force. Our team is investigating the “problem properties” identified by the city to evaluate the characteristics of these properties and the nature of crime and disorder there.

What led you to pursue this research?

This project aligns with many of the skills and interests I’ve developed in my time at Northeastern. Because the project has a significant geographic component, I’ve been able to further explore techniques I learned about in Dr. Jake Stowell’s crime mapping course. I also knew I would like this project because there is a strong focus on interpreting results through social disorganization and routine activities theories, which I became interested in during my theory courses with Dr. Kevin Drakulich and Dr. Ekaterina Botchkovar.

How has the research impacted you?

I’ve really been able to expand the scope of my research interests through this project. Most of my research has focused on these phenomena through a neighborhood lens, so it’s been a lot of fun to think about how theories play out at across properties in the same community. This project has also given me opportunities to contribute to manuscripts that have been prepared and submitted for publication in academic journals, which will be greatly helpful for the academic job market.

What is the end goal of your research?

We hope this project will help us further understand what leads to problems of crime and disorder emerging at a place, and how the nature of that problem changes over time. Once completing our analyses, we will focus on translating these results to be shared with politicians and practitioners, with the goal being to inspire policies that can improve the life experience across Boston neighborhoods.

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