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“As a data science company working in law enforcement, there are endless metrics we can point to and measure our success against, and that’s all well and good. You can show me all the data in the world, but at the end of the day, for me and my team, success boils down to one question: ‘What are the customers saying?'”

A Commitment to Customer Success

Benchmark Analytics is dedicated to continually enhancing the overall experience of our valued customers — including effective utilization of the product, achievement of desired outcomes, and overall satisfaction and fulfillment. With Jay Dobbs at the helm in his role as Senior Director, the Customer Success team is doing just that. Jay is motivated by a desire to make a meaningful impact, and has meticulously honed his skills in leadership, account management, interpersonal relationships, problem-solving, and communication.

Jay has over a decade of experience in customer service, including customer-facing roles at Target and CareerBuilder, where he developed foundational skills in managing diverse customer needs and solving problems quickly. To hone his customer service skills, Jay developed an interest in product management to better understand the mechanics of product functionality and malfunction, so he could provide customers with a well-rounded explanation of their services — and provide informed reports if and when something failed to meet a customer’s expectations.

At CareerBuilder, Jay advanced through support, account management, and product leadership roles, consistently focusing on how his work contributed to customer satisfaction and retention.

“For a long time, one of my career goals was to get into product management. I thought the best way to get there was to learn everything I could from the support side: how products worked, what happens when they break, and the quality assurance process. From there, it was just a matter of taking on different roles within the support world.” 

Joining Benchmark Analytics

While proud of his achievements in customer satisfaction and the contributions they were making toward meeting his company’s performance objectives, Jay began to realize that he was interested in leveraging his expertise with an organization that was dedicated to making a broader social impact.

As he researched opportunities, he came across a LinkedIn post for an opening at Benchmark Analytics — and was immediately drawn to the company’s mission despite having no prior experience in public safety. Confident that his software and customer operations expertise would benefit the company, Jay applied for a Customer Support position; after a thorough interview process, he joined the team in December 2020.

“I was ready to challenge myself and figure out how I could use my skill sets in customer experience and customer operations to align with a company that’s doing really important work on the scale of Benchmark.”

Achievements at Benchmark

During his first two years with Benchmark, Jay focused on defining team structures and responsibilities, identifying process improvements, mentoring customer service representatives, and promoting the company’s data-driven approach to personnel management. One of Jay’s proudest achievements is the establishment of Benchmark’s robust customer health metrics that enable the organization to manage risk proactively, discuss key risk drivers, and align with the true sentiment of the customer.

By creating a framework for identifying and measuring customer satisfaction, Jay’s Customer Success team is able to provide critical input to Benchmark’s product and engineering teams to validate or refine priorities and roadmaps.

Leadership Philosophy

Regarding his leadership style, Jay firmly believes that every leader must align themselves with techniques and strategies that are authentic to them, rather than imitating others. Jay employs a coaching style for managing his team, assigning challenging tasks that take his team members outside their comfort zone — while providing a supportive environment for feedback and development.

One of the most important leadership lessons that has impacted Jay is that stewarding is less about exercising authority and more about influencing through relationships and managing conflicts. It requires being comfortable with ceding control, collaborating with others within the organization to find a happy medium when resources are scarce, and integrating personal objectives into the broader framework of the company’s goals.

“I think a lot of people fall into the trap of imitating how their leaders behave, and it creates an internal struggle. It was certainly something I grappled with in my first leadership role. I believe you have to be authentic to yourself to be an effective leader.”

On Success

When evaluating success, Jay prioritizes the customer’s voice above all else. Alongside quantitative KPIs, he measures success by the strength of customer relationships and feedback. He takes great pride in the accolades Benchmark’s customer operations team consistently receives for their rapport with agencies.

“One of our greatest strengths is our relationships with the agencies. Even in those occasional instances when customers have an issue with the platform’s performance, their feedback about the hard work and care shown by our customer reps has been outstanding. That’s something I’m immensely proud of; it speaks to our level of dedication as a team.”

Ultimately, Jay is motivated by the opportunity to help law enforcement agencies drive meaningful change by affecting the trajectory of their overall performance. He remains inspired by how Benchmark’s solutions can challenge management assumptions and conventional thinking by enabling organizations to turn insights into impact.

Looking to the future, Jay believes Benchmark will continue to innovate with solutions that will transform the landscape of police force management in America.

“My true north has always been deploying technology to enhance operational efficiency, particularly in the public sector. I get immense satisfaction from improving how things work through technological advancements.”

Steve Brewer is a Partner and the Head of Risk Solutions at Benchmark Analytics. Throughout his career, Steve has been driven by a passion for applying technology and analytics to improve outcomes for businesses and government. In this insightful interview, we sit down with Steve to discuss his career journey, the company’s mission, and the future of risk management in public safety.

Q: What led you to a career in risk solutions?

Steve: There is a saying in insurance: ‘People don’t find insurance, insurance finds you.’ My story aligns with this paradigm. I started in management consulting, focusing on transformative technology in the public sector. My true north has always been deploying technology to enhance operational efficiency, particularly in the public sector. I get immense satisfaction from improving how things work through technological advancements. After realizing the travel schedule wasn’t conducive to the family life I wanted, I joined a startup developing analytics for the insurance industry. I wasn’t looking to get into insurance, but I was excited about applying analytics to understand risk during the industry’s digital transformation. Over 18 years, I grew with the company through various transitions before joining Benchmark three years ago.

Q: What inspired you to join Benchmark, and how do you see your role evolving?

Steve: After numerous buyouts and transitions, I wanted to return to my roots in the startup space while continuing to apply analytics and technology to help industries and people. When a recruiter reached out about an opportunity at Benchmark, I initially wasn’t convinced. However, after meeting with the CEO, Ron Huberman, and learning about Benchmark’s mission, I realized it was exactly the opportunity I was looking for. The chance to work in a growth-based company that helps to apply technology and analytics to improve outcomes for the benefit of our society was too good to pass up. The timing was perfect, as my old company was going through a hostile takeover, so I joined Benchmark in 2021 to gain sponsorship from the insurance risk pool market in a meaningful way.

“The chance to work in a growth-based company that helps to apply technology and analytics to improve outcomes for the benefit of our society was too good to pass up.”

Q: Since joining Benchmark, what projects or initiatives have you led that you are most proud of?

Steve: Launching and growing our risk business line. Within risk solutions, two points are crucial: helping insurers understand and support their insured law enforcement agencies to improve outcomes and reduce risk, as well as convincing insurers to sponsor and promote our core BMS and First Sign products to their members as a new way of doing business. I feel fortunate to work towards these goals every day.

Q: How would you describe your leadership style, and has it evolved since joining Benchmark?

Steve: My leadership style is about being myself, building trust, and listening. I subscribe to the servant-leader philosophy — blending strategic thinking, innovative problem-solving, and focused execution.

Some leaders excel at conceptual or vision but struggle with execution, while others focus on execution but miss clarifying the mission—the purpose and the why. For me, it’s about balancing those two, and I will tell you that Benchmark is better at this than any organization I’ve been a part of; it’s part of what makes it an energizing workplace.

Q: What are some of the biggest challenges specific to risk, and how has your team adapted?

Steve: What we’re doing is largely unheard of – at the agency, risk, and insurance levels – so the biggest challenge is illustrating our value in a way that convinces organizations to invest in us. We’re asking people to think differently, use analytics differently, and improve outcomes through research. Buy-in is only part of the equation; we have to convince agencies and insurers to act using our research. It’s a fascinating challenge to demonstrate that agencies are changing their practices because of us.

“We’re asking people to think differently, use analytics differently, and improve outcomes through research.”

Q: Where is the industry heading in the next five to ten years, and what role do you see Benchmark playing in that future?

Steve: I believe our research-driven, evidence-based early warning system will become as important to public safety as computer-aided dispatch or a record management system. We will be the third mission-critical platform — managing officer performance. Additionally, our perception of risk will become the standard by which insurers price and manage risks, giving us a significant say in how excellent agency operations should look.

Q: Looking back on your career, what are you most grateful for?

Steve: I’m grateful for the opportunity to pursue my career with an organization like Benchmark and work towards solving a problem that significantly affects public safety in America. It’s a privilege to work on something I’m passionate about, and that has a positive impact on both individuals and society.

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

Steve: The journey is more important than the destination. Despite being busy, we should always remember that the end goal is one of many things that matter. We have to appreciate the moments we spend with people and the relationships we build along the way. That’s the most important lesson I’ve learned in my career; it’s not about where we end up but about the journey and the people we meet along the way.

Dr. Ugochi Jones – Vice President of Data Science at Benchmark Analytics

“I’ve always been impressed by people who go into service, particularly public service. It’s tough; the things they deal with is not routine – they juggle complex societal issues and stressors across several environments. In my position, I use data science and machine learning to assist officers in their pursuit of being exceptional public servants.”

In law enforcement data science, blending academic insight with real-world application is key to success. The data science team at Benchmark Analytics studies various data points, ranging from officer attributes to arrest records, policy documents, articles, and public datasets. They create machine learning algorithms that can identify data patterns, which can be utilized in fostering safer work environments for officers and the communities they serve. We had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Ugochi Jones, Vice President of Data Science at Benchmark Analytics, to gain insight into the life of a data scientist within the company.

Dr. Jones has always had a clear mission throughout her career: leverage her love for data and technology to assist public servants in providing better support to their communities. However, her path to law enforcement was not a straight line.  She started at Stanford University, where she studied Electrical Engineering in the hope of building the next generation of computers. A pivotal moment came during a summer internship at Intel, where she attended a conference on human-computer interaction that changed the course of her professional journey.

“The whole field was new to me. They were discussing user-centered design and advocating that technology should be designed to fit the context and goals of the user rather than forcing the user to conform to the technology.  It was an angle I had never been exposed to. Honestly, I had always believed that the challenge was in creating the tech itself, but now I realize it’s actually about creating technology that empowers the people using it.”

As a result of this realization, she pursued a master’s degree in Computer Science at Stanford University with a specialization in Human-Computer Interaction. Later, she attained a Ph.D. in Learning Sciences and Technology Design, where she focused on developing technology to support teachers and students in reaching their full potential.

Dr. Jones earned her doctorate degree and then became a postdoctoral researcher and later a faculty member at DePaul University.  While at DePaul, she collaborated with the Digital Youth Network (DYN) and used big data to identify barriers and opportunities to increase participation in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) educational activities for women and underrepresented students. Later, she joined ThinkCERCA, an educational technology startup, where she continued to leverage data and technology to improve learning outcomes for students.

It was during her time at ThinkCERCA that she met Benchmark’s Chief Research Officer, Nick Montgomery, who introduced her to the world of policing. Recognizing the parallels between her background in education and the challenges faced in policing, she accepted an offer to join Benchmark and contribute to their mission of transforming personnel management in policing through research-based, data-driven solutions.

“I remember thinking, ‘You’ve got the wrong person. I don’t know the first thing about law enforcement.’ But after chatting with Nick, I started to see a potential fit. Police officers – like teachers – are public servants who aim to support and create healthy communities.”

For Nick Montgomery, there was never any doubt that Dr. Jones would make a significant impact in her role: “Based on her background and approach, I knew she was the right person for the job.”

Currently, Dr. Jones leads a team of six data scientists dedicated to understanding policing data, its context, and the dynamics involved in creating data-driven solutions that promote effective personnel management policies and practice. As she sees it, her primary objective is maintaining high standards by asking probing questions and encouraging her team to think critically about their methodologies. The team’s guiding principle is straightforward: only products that pass through intensive scrutiny and answer the right questions – born from hours of critical evaluation – are greenlit for release.

Ultimately, Dr. Jones sees herself as a guide and mentor whose approach fosters a collaborative environment where open dialogue and adaptability are the norms.

“I see my role as more of a coach than a direct manager. Our data scientists are brilliant and invested in their work . . . I always make it clear to them that they are the experts. Ultimately, they shape the product. I provide parameters and I am open to pushback. I make it explicit that if they have concerns or differing opinions, they should voice them. My role becomes much easier when the team believes in the mission and is dedicated to producing quality work. “

Under Dr. Jones’s leadership, a notable achievement has been developing First Sign®, Benchmark’s early intervention system (EIS), which can identify off-track officer behavior with 85% model precision. First Sign is the only research-based EIS system that uses machine learning to adapt to the evolving dynamics of risk. Traditional trigger-based EIS platforms have seen sluggish adoption and inconsistent outcomes, with a model precision of 29% – incorrectly flagging officers as “at-risk” five times more often than First Sign. These inconsistent and unreliable results from those systems have cast a shadow over early intervention systems in general, often creating mistrust among those in law enforcement.

Part of Dr. Jones’s role is overcoming that mistrust. Her strategy involves shifting agency shareholder perceptions and the use of EIS systems as punitive systems to one that supports officer improvement. Additionally, she guides agencies away from trigger-based systems, which fail to assess risk accurately.

“It’s about helping officers and their colleagues use data to understand what, why, and where officers need support, and communicating that message in a way that’s constructive and actionable and does not form mistrust in the system or put officers on the defensive.”

Reflecting on her achievements at Benchmark, Dr. Jones takes pride in the advancements her team has made in refining First Sign’s efficacy. She emphasizes that the end goal is never static; success requires customizing solutions to align with the specific demands of the agency. Dr. Jones views her role as ongoing, with unique technical and implementation challenges presented by each new project. Ultimately, she asserts that technology must be flexible to serve its users effectively, a sentiment that echoes the insight taken from the lecture that began her career: technology is a tool to empower and help people achieve their goals.

Dr. Ugochi Jones’ journey is a testament to the transformative power of data science when guided by empathy, commitment, and a deep understanding of the human aspect of technology. Her work at Benchmark is not just about numbers and algorithms; it’s about empowering agencies and the communities they serve — and paving the way for a more equitable future.