Why I Left the FBI to Start a Software Company: Part 2
By Scott Baugher
Part 2 of 2
Read Part 1 Here
Leaving the safety of a federal government job to strike out on our own was a big leap that not everyone was prepared to make right away. However, Dorian, Nathan, and I each wanted to build ground-breaking software for law enforcement, so we looked for other options. We met with various federal agencies and federal contractors, looking for the ideal partner to build our next system.
Eventually, we found a partner who was interested in building a world-class case management platform with us. We left the FBI and started down our new path. However, after nearly seven months, it became clear that this option was not going to get us where we wanted to go either. At that point, the three of us had a decision to make. If we really wanted to build a world-class platform for law enforcement and other investigative needs, we were going to have to strike out on our own. It was clear no one else shared our level of commitment to the law enforcement community — that’s when we established Kaseware.
Known Knowns and Known Unknowns
Having a combined thirty plus years of investigative experience between us meant we had a good grasp on law enforcement investigations. What we didn’t know was the patrol side of law enforcement. If we were going to build software for state and local public safety, there was a pretty sizeable knowledge gap we needed to overcome.
Before we turned the Sentinel project around, I saw first-hand how user needs were consistently not met by the software engineers. It wasn’t because the engineers didn’t want to meet their needs. On the contrary, non-technical users frequently had trouble communicating their needs to the engineers. Likewise, the engineers frequently misunderstood how the users actually did their jobs, and made inaccurate assumptions about what would and would not work for the end users. One of the keys to our success with the Sentinel project was our unique dual roles as both end users and software engineers. There was nothing “lost in translation” between the end users and the engineers, since they were one and the same. Not wanting to repeat the same mistakes, there was only one thing to do — one of us needed to become a local law enforcement officer.
Fortunately for me, my local sheriff’s office had an active reserve program. Colorado recognizes the FBI academy as an accredited law enforcement academy. Rather than having to go through another full academy, I simply had to attend a two week refresher course in order to get my Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Certification. POST certificate in hand, I reported to my local sheriff’s office to start the field training program and learn everything I could about being a patrol deputy.
As a part-time reserve, I spent about 10 months completing the full patrol field training program. That process, and the subsequent time I’ve spent as a patrol deputy, gave me an even greater respect for all of the men and women who work in the field, and a burning desire to give them better tools with which to do their jobs. I was inspired to apply what I learned to our product, which is something I’ll describe in greater detail in a future blog post.
Making Better Law Enforcement Software
My experience becoming a patrol officer is one of the many examples of how Kaseware does things differently. When I was with the FBI, one phrase I heard frequently from vendors was, “We believe in the mission and will do anything to support you.” It is a promise made and broken so often by vendors in the law enforcement space that it has lost all meaning. I eventually came to learn that your check will get you the same amount of support from a vendor that your check and your mission combined will get you.
However, at Kaseware, our passion shows through in everything we do for our customers. Everything from the product to our training and customer service. I’m very proud of the team at Kaseware for making it possible to bring cutting-edge technology to law enforcement agencies across the country.