In September 2023, I joined the "CityLab" class offered by Johns Hopkins Carey Business School. The class is led by Professor Lindsay Thompson and aims at "Bringing the power of business innovation to build more livable cities and a livable future for humanity and the planet."

My CityLab project seeks to understand and evaluate policy solutions to rising crime in Washington, DC, and particularly the Chinatown neighborhood. I've lived in Chinatown for the past two years and deeply appreciate my neighbors, local restaurants and businesses, open green space, and proximity to my work and school. Unfortunately, Chinatown also suffers from significant criminal activity. My daily walk to SAIS passes through a known drug market that covers the sidewalk. I've had friends witness fights at the Chinatown metro station, and I've heard from local police who have been attacked during patrols. Publicly available data shows that these issues exist city-wide, and only getting worse.

Understanding and deterring crime is essential to keep DC and the Chinatown community thriving. I look forward to researching this topic, developing this blog as an educational resource, synthesizing and contributing to the local policy conversation, and becoming a more active member of my community.

Project Objectives

  • Gain in-depth knowledge about local policing, criminal activities, and politicians, and develop this blog as an educational resource on these subjects.
  • Improve my leadership and interview skills through urban ethnography and appreciative inquiry.
  • Evaluate policy responses designed to deter and mitigate crime in DC/Chinatown, preferably with specific budget requirements, timelines, and responsible actors.
  • Learn about what makes cities "livable," and how Washington, DC ranks among these categories.

Livability Themes

CityLab requires students to study their city broadly as we dive into our specific projects. To do so, we break down urban life into five core livability themes:

These issues all intersect with my focus on crime, but it's also important to consider them on their own to reflect on the broader DC/Chinatown communities.

CityLab's five components of livable cities.


I study the literature on violent crime in Washington, D.C. across popular and local media, police reports, and academic literature.

Stacks of books. Photo: DNB, Stephan Jockel


I conduct interviews with local police, politicians, community activists, business leaders, prosecutors & defenders, victims of violent crime, and incarcerated individuals. I will attend criminal court cases. I will publish pictures, audio, short video, and quotes taken from my interviews and fieldwork.

D.C. police car. Photo: Wikimedia

Policy Responses

I explore proposals to deter and mitigate local crime, along with potential financial and social costs associated with these policies. I will also consider the various timelines and enforcement mechanisms involved. I will share my findings with Mayor Muriel Bowser's office, the DC Council, the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), and other relevant policymakers and thought leaders.

D.C. City Council budget vote. Photo: Wikimedia

Talking Points

I lay out the most common talking points on DC policing and crime, and provide some basic analysis and resources for further consideration.

Discussion and debate. Photo: Wikimedia