My research focuses on twentieth-century American history, with particular focuses on political history, urban history, social and cultural movements, gender history, and oral history. I teach courses in the history of crime and policing, the history of the American West, urban history, and modern American history.
My manuscript, The Streets of San Francisco: Policing and the Creation of a Modern Liberal Politics, 1950-72, is under contract with the University of Chicago Press’s Historical Studies of Urban America series. This book narrates how a new generation of establishment liberals in post-World War II San Francisco used the interactions between police and various marginalized groups (including the beats, sexually explicit artists, gay bar owners, and black gang leaders) to craft a political posture and policy promising expanded democracy in city hall and tough law enforcement on the street. As San Francisco liberals argued that they could create a city that was both democratic and orderly, they forwarded new definitions of democracy and crime and a new understanding of the relationship between the community, the government, the police department, and the individual cop on the beat. The discussions over democracy and policing that dominated San Francisco politics during the 1950s and 60s anticipated many urban debates of the 1980s and 90s when liberals questioned whether they could provide both democracy and security through programs such as broken-windows law enforcement and community policing.
In my future teaching and research, I plan to continue analyzing urban liberalism and street-level policing. My next project will investigate the relationship between liberal understandings of democracy, crime, and police discretion during the 1970s and 80s through a comparative study of urban Democratic administrations across the United States.