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It’s safe to say that policing in the United States has reached a tipping point. Frustration has boiled over throughout the country since the summer of 2014. Community members often feel mistreated, voiceless, and fed up. Police officers report feeling under-appreciated, overworked, and misunderstood. Police and communities alike dread becoming “the next Ferguson.”

Nearly two years ago, Ferguson revealed what many communities have known for years: the system isn’t working. This isn’t a secret, and the problem is being attacked from many different angles. In some ways, each piece of the puzzle is eyeing the same goal: better policing and safer communities. But police and communities are rarely seeing eye-to-eye.

Failure to communicate and engage with one another is a major part of the problem. More often, the two sides simply talk past one another. There are tools to “police the police” and departments have official communication channels, but there are still very few opportunities to talk with one another.

Most people never give feedback about our local police. The barriers are serious. Many departments offer just one option: filing official commendations or complaints in person during business hours. Community members, meanwhile, often fear police retribution if they complain. And just speaking up isn’t enough. As one community member put it, “I have lots to say about the police—but I want to make sure my voice is heard, too.”

The challenge is enormous, but so is the opportunity. The status quo isn’t an option, and public officials, police chiefs, and community members alike are working on ways to fix these problems. Along with the rest of my team, I’m passionate about changing how police and the public interact. This is why I helped create a company called My90. Our mission is to help community members and police talk.

 

Introducing My90

My90 is an independent platform that facilitates conversations between communities and their police departments. Our goal is to help make communities safer and community-police relations stronger by fundamentally changing how we communicate. We do this by collecting anonymous feedback via text messages, analyzing data to inform policing, and increasing the flow of public information. We make giving feedback convenient and accessible for anyone with a cell phone. You don’t need a smartphone, the internet, or an app for My90—just text messaging. It’s free, anonymous, and multi-lingual. We are focused on two-way communication, so our platform both collects information about civilian-police interactions and sends follow up messages from police departments in response. We partner with police departments and provide the service free of charge to the general public. My90 will first be publicly available in partnership with the San Jose Police Department this summer as part of a pilot program.

We’ve got an all-star team and are fortunate to have advisors with expertise in law enforcement, public policy, machine learning, statistics, and more. We’re also growing – check out our team and please get in touch if you’re interested in getting involved.

In developing this company, we have met with a wide range of community members, hopped in squad cars for ride alongs, and gone deep into the world of data analytics to develop the best possible services for police and the public alike. We’re excited to announce our official launch, and are looking forward to sharing results from our San Jose pilot later this summer. To learn more, check out our website (www.textmy90.com) or get in touch via email! contact@textmy90.com

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