Growing up, Brandon D. Anderson didn't have any ambition to become a #techentrepreneur. "I was a #queer, #black and #homeless teen. I didn't even have the mental space to dream." He struggled, but at least he was with his "soul mate," another homeless teen whose name Anderson. Anderson enlisted in the Army around 2003, keeping his love life a secret as required by army policy at the time. Then in 2007, he suddenly came out to his front-line supervisor. He had to, he said, if he wanted to see his partner again. The man was hospitalized and lay dying after a traffic stop in Oklahoma City turned tragic. "The #police said they thought he had stolen a car. He had not," Anderson soberly recalls. "He was in the hospital for some time. They beat him first. They killed him." The experience inspired Anderson to become a dedicated community organizer, helping other #militaryveterans dismissed from the Army for their #sexuality seek honorable discharges, and later organizing discussions around #policebrutality. Now, with funding from Silicon Valley accelerator FastForward and an initiative called My Brother's Keeper started by President Obama, Anderson is taking a tech approach to the problem. He's built a chatbot, Raheem.ai, that gives the public a way to grade police interactions as easily as they would rate and review a product on #Amazon. "Police departments crunch huge amounts of data today," he told CNBC, "but we still don't know how often law enforcement officers have hurt, killed, or for that matter saved and comforted people in the line of duty." The lack of transparency contributes to a widening rift between police and the communities they promise to protect, he said. People access Raheem.ai through Facebook Messenger on smartphones, or the company's own website. The chatbot asks users to answer simple questions about a police interaction, covering everything from basic details about where and when it took place, to more qualitative aspects, such as whether the officer made you feel "heard" or "disrespected." The bot asks users to select from a checklist of options but allows room for some details to be submitted through written answers.
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