Police brutality and lack of accountability have become major issues in our country. For years, police officers have essentially been allowed to act however they see fit in any given situation with little to no fear of being called out for inappropriate behavior. Now, people are calling for change, and one man has figured out a way to contribute to that change in an accessible yet impactful way.
Brandon Anderson knows all too well what it means to have a lack of police accountability impact his life. While Brandon was serving as a satellite engineer for the Army, his lifetime partner passed away from injuries sustained during a traffic stop in Oklahoma City. In order to see his partner again, Brandon was forced to give up his military career by coming out to his front-line supervisor, which was against army policy at the time.
Since losing his partner, Brandon has dedicated his time and knowledge to helping other military veterans dismissed for their sexuality, and planning discussions about police brutality and its impact on the lives of average citizens. After receiving funding from a Silicon Valley accelerator and an Obama-era initiative called My Brother’s Keeper, Brandon took his passion one step further by creating the world’s first police accountability chatbot: Raheem.ai.
“I’m using my experience in collecting data in critical intelligence for the war in Iraq…It’s ironic that I’m using those same tactics in the war on police terror.”
As a satellite engineer for the Army, Brandon learned how important data can be when it is collected by people who are living the experiences and providing data based on personal encounters and perception. Brandon was able to take the skills he learned as an engineer and data collector and combine them with the pain of losing his partner in order to create a tool that has the potential to change how people speak about police-related experiences.
Raheem.ai is a Facebook chatbot designed to hear personal stories, whether positive or negative, and extract data in a safe and anonymous way. This allows anyone to share their stories without fear of retaliation or judgement, and provides valuable data that can be shared with city leaders, police stations, and ordinary people alike.
The entire process takes only five minutes. Before Raheem.ai, the only way to report an experience with a police officer is to walk into a police station and make an official statement. Fewer than 5% of people are willing to do this, especially if the experience was negative. Therefore, almost every story of an officer abusing his or her position goes unheard.
“We think transparency is the best way to go.”
Brandon encourages Raheem.ai users to share all police experiences, including good or neutral experiences. The goal is data that can be measured and shared to strive toward the goal of police accountability which could one day reduce the fear many people have of police officers.
Raheem.ai promises secure and anonymous use through the Facebook messenger platform, which is an app most people already use. It’s quick, easy, and gives people a voice — a unique combination of benefits that may just help Raheem.ai find users willing to lend their personal experiences to a map-plotting, data-collecting chatbot.
Listen to Brandon go into detail on the creation and use of Raheem.ai, as well as how to get involved, in the interview, The World’s First Public Police Accountability Dashboard, available exclusively to Civic Hacker Network subscribers.
The World's First Public Police Accountability Dashboard
Raheem.ai is a chatbot born of the knowledge and pain of a former military satellite engineer. If that doesn’t pique interest, maybe this will: Raheem.ai is also the first-ever police accountability dashboard created for the public.
Founder and activist Brandon Anderson details how Raheem.ai came to be, and how it can help improve police accountability around the world in his Civic Hacker Summit interview.