Interview with Kim Bogucki
Date: July 2, 2019
Tell us about yourself and what led you to start innovating
Early on in my career in law enforcement, I started to wonder what was going on with our work and why what we were doing wasn’t improving crime rates in general, but specifically why we were seeing the same people time and time again. I started getting interested in innovation and my agency offered an environment in which innovation was encouraged. It seemed that law-enforcement officers have a tendency not to see people, but to see criminals. I started asking questions when meeting people who got into trouble, and dug into learning about peoples’ stories: what led them to crime, to homelessness, drug use, even family history, etc. I also learned that these people do not see police as people either and that we have stories, too, and that at our core we are, really, more alike than we are different. In one instance I had the opportunity to talk to incarcerated women, and that led to the genesis of the IF Project.
What is the IF Project?
The IF Project was created quite organically: while visiting prison for something unrelated, I had a conversation with incarcerated women that inspired the question, “If there was something someone could have said or done that would have changed the path that led you here, what would it have been?” (Learn more about the IF Project at theifproject.com.) This made women think about their past and led to other questions about what they want their future to look like and how their story could help others. Even more importantly, we asked them to think about their children—how to encourage their children or any children not to follow in their footsteps. In gathering these answers and working with the women, the IF Project was created. Today IF serves women, youth and men.
Where has this first innovation led?
In addition to the information that we continue to gather from incarcerated people, we have started a nonprofit collaboration among law enforcement, community partners, and currently and previously incarcerated people. We have developed programs based on personal introspection. Since the development of the IF Project, I was a part of a collaboration called the West Side Story Project to bring together young people and law enforcement by way of the performing arts to address the plight of gang violence. Other innovations include the Donut Dialogues, a program written in collaboration with homeless youth that engages young people and law enforcement to enhance connectedness and dispel misperceptions about police officers as well as the community we are serving.
BetaGov has asked you to provide your insights as a Pracademic. What is your message?
We have to constantly test ideas and see what is working to determine what needs to change in order to be effective. If it isn’t working, that approach needs to be redeveloped or thrown out altogether. It’s better to know this early on than to waste resources on something that simply is not working. BetaGov allows this. Also cultivating ideas for testing by the people doing the work is critical. They are closest to the issues we are trying to address and have the experiences and knowledge to help us build effective and efficient systems.