This research project was a lens into the real world of research and data collecting. In our American history, a lot of global issues have progressed simply from the misinterpretation of data. The United States involvement with Iraq is a prime example of such where one data collector finds that a Middle Eastern country found a source of uranium and then begins the domino effect of war. This is a real world instance where data has made a huge effect on international diplomacy. Granted, my data collecting did not have that exact impact, it still gave me insight into the present issues in our policing system.
My research was about encounters between the mentally ill and the police when deadly force is used. When I began researching I found a wealthy amount of literature on the topic. There were also hundreds of webpages with statistics about how many encounters were “deadly” and the circumstances behind each situation. I also had to inform myself more on the specifics of mental illnesses in order to fully comprehend the situations and policies that were within the research. I also needed to refresh myself on police procedure so when reading I could identify mistakes made when handling cases with mentally ill people.
It was within this research that I found that people with an existing mental illness are 16 times more likely to be killed by the police. The Treatment Advocacy Center really stands up for those who suffer with mental illness. They often fight for better/ more available treatment centers and for specialized police task forces for cases with mentally ill in order to save their lives.
The paper writing was the hardest part for me personally. I had never written a literature review before and actually struggled really hard with doing so. In addition to my heavy course load this semester I definitely could have been a better research assistant for Professor Arslan. I tried my best to devote as much time to writing the paper as possible but many obstacles from my classes and other curricular came my way. The research was more of a time commitment than I had originally anticipated, however, when Professor Arslan depended on me to complete a data sheet I worked day in and day out to do it.
A data sheet is an excel spreadsheet that has many different cells consisting of details about the incident of deadly or excessive force being used on a person. There is a cell for the persons name, gender, race, location of the incident, and especially whether or not the person is mentally ill (including much more). This excel spreadsheet makes up the S.H.O.T. Database for Police use of Deadly Force. This database looks at the issue of police use of deadly force in its entirety. My job as the researcher was to focus in on the mentally ill column of the spreadsheet and then fill out any other information as it came my way. I had experience working on a similar project from my Terrorism and Society class (which is amazing, highly recommend it) with Professor Arslan. It was exciting to contribute to the database and leave my mark on it as it progresses to be something even more amazing.
There were trials and tribulations within this research work. There were times where it overwhelmed me and I shut it out, but there were also times where I buckled down and enjoyed the work I was doing. I am soon having my final meeting with Professor Arslan to discuss the charts and poster board for our Show Case. This research topic will go far and I can’t wait to see what it develops into moving forward.