• Facebook

Bukata Hayes, Vice President of Racial and Health Equity at Blue Cross

When Twin Cities entrepreneurs Jazz Hampton, Esq., Andre Creighton and Mychal Frelix developed a solution to make traffic stops safer for drivers and law enforcement, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota took note.

The nonprofit health plan is partnering with the entrepreneurs to address key factors affecting the health of its residents, including looking at police interactions as a social driver of health.

“The three of us sat down and decided that with our professional and community backgrounds, we were uniquely placed to create a solution to help keep people’s rights protected, reduce stress, trauma and anxiety  – and get everyone home safely,” said Hampton, co-Founder and CEO of TurnSignl.

After Daunte Wright was fatally shot during a traffic stop by Brooklyn Center police in 2021, Hampton, Creighton and Frelix saw an opportunity to improve interactions between police and drivers. The trio developed TurnSignl, an app connecting users to an attorney in real time if they are stopped by law enforcement or have a car accident. The attorney provides legal advice to the user during the interaction with police.

Blue Cross is funding TurnSignl as part of a five-year strategy with the City of Brooklyn Center that aims to improve racial and health equity. The pilot program will provide up to 3,000 residents free access to the TurnSignl app, which launched in Minnesota just weeks after Wright’s killing.

This innovative subscription-based technology is designed to protect driver’s rights, de-escalate roadside police interactions, and help ensure both drivers and police officers return home safely.

Safety is not the only issue TurnSignl can help address. A growing body of research is illuminating how police-involved shootings and other police violence perpetrated on Black people have a deeply negative impact on the mental health and wellbeing of communities, regardless of whether the residents of those communities had a personal connection to those incidents.

“We know that 80 percent of health is determined by environment, neighborhoods, income and other stressors that exist outside of interactions with doctors and the health care system,” said Bukata Hayes, Vice President of Racial and Health Equity at Blue Cross.

“The impact of historical and contemporary trauma and systemic racism felt within BIPOC communities have long added increased mental health burdens to the already large overarching health inequities that exist throughout Minnesota. Our partnership with TurnSignl is an innovative, relevant and a responsive way to address those priorities and create a healthier future for all,” Hayes said.