When did you realize there was a tech-based approach to community policing?
First, some background. I’ve built expertise in implementation science, which is all about how to get research-based knowledge into practical applications. I also come from a background that believes data is power. Evaluation is power, and it should be shared with those that are most directly impacted.
But when entering into community policing, it's difficult to measure outcomes. For example, how do you prevent problems and measure the fact that you prevented them? But even deeper than that, people often misinterpret what community policing is. They think it's about handing out ice cream cones or just coffee with a cop. Those things aren't bad, but that’s only part of it.
It’s actually about consistent, proactive engagement, and thinking more critically about the partnerships police departments have with their community. It’s recognizing that public safety is guided by many different stakeholder groups that contribute to preventing crime and addressing the root causes.
Research shows promising outcomes from community policing, but not many departments are doing it well. Hard data is very limited and not easily accessible. So, the vision I’ve had for years now is how to make this data more easily accessible and usable. The app is the mechanism for doing that.
Many would-be entrepreneurs struggle to connect research to real-world applications. Can you explain “application science”?
I'll never forget, shortly after Greg was killed, I was invited to speak on the Charleston Forum, which was held in memory of the Emmanuel Nine tragedy. One of my classmates was in the audience and said, “Kassy, you did a good job but you really didn't embrace your training and your academic background, which actually have a lot to contribute to this space.” That really stuck with me.
Another time, I asked an officer who had taught at the criminal justice academy what tools she felt would be most valuable to departments to help bridge divides. She responded, “Well, what skills do you have?”
And then it all just started clicking. There is a whole field of research on community policing that has been around for decades that has an evidence base behind it, but it's so frequently misunderstood and not implemented appropriately. Also, what works well in New York City will probably not be the same as Horry County, South Carolina.
If we could just better support implementation of that research in a quality way that is grounded in strategies and principles that have been shown to work — beyond just a concept — implementation science is all about that process.
How do you make that academic knowledge accessible to the diverse groups that need to be involved?
I think that's where using tools such as an app can really help. You don't need to know all of the academic background.
So far, some people are confused and don't understand that it's a different approach. Others who get it and are excited have this reluctance, like, is this even possible?
How do you make your case to skeptics?
I don't think it’s about what I have to say. It’s more about deep listening and leaning into people's concerns or questions.
In that, we find connection and common ground that helps those light bulbs go off and help people understand what this work means on a deeper level.
The beauty is that it's not just Kassy up there saying this message. There are so many different voices saying it with their own perspective, their own story and why it matters to them.
That kind of trust and empathy aren’t an obvious part of product development.
True, but the thing that’s universal across different entrepreneurial endeavors is that it's about listening to your customers. In our case, customers are police and citizens who distrust them. It’s hearing all their perspectives and their experiences.
Listen to customers not just to validate your opinions, but to bring you to a deeper level of understanding. You may learn things you didn’t even consider. And then you take that back as an interactive process and connect it both to your own personal why, and also the unique skills and perspective that you bring in a space. And I think that's where the real value proposition and the vision clarifies and takes shape.