For the Common Good: Connecting Drivers to Attorneys

St. Thomas’ mission of enhancing the common good runs deeper and expands beyond the campus’ parameter. For many students, the saying has been woven into their identity throughout their four-year experience, even becoming some individuals’ life mantras.

The Newsroom is highlighting some people who have studied at Opus College of Business undergraduate programs and who have magnified diversity, youth empowerment, the well-being and safety of the Twin Cities community and beyond.

In this installment, learn more about Mychal Frelix ’13 and Jazz Hampton ’12, ’15 J.D.

Mychal Frelix ’13 [left] and Jazz Hampton ’12, ’15 J.D.

Mychal Frelix ’13 and Jazz Hampton ’12, ’15 J.D. came up with the idea for TurnSignl in the aftermath of the 2016 killing of Philando Castile. Their co-founder, Andre Creighton, grew up with the Castile family and was heavily impacted when the tragedy struck. Feeling the need to take an extra step beyond attending protests against gun violence and police brutality, the three men decided together they would dedicate themselves to being a part of the solution.

Hampton explained, “It was a solution [where] there was a lot of awareness. Everyone in the country and parts of the world [knows] why Minnesota is the epicenter for a call for social change. The awareness is there, but what was anyone doing to be a part of the solution actively?”

In the fall of 2020, the men left their jobs to launch TurnSignl, a technology platform that connects drivers to attorneys during traffic stops.

“Historically, the power has been in the hands of law enforcement. Now we’re using our platform to really make sure that people’s rights are being protected in those interactions, really with the goal of educating the driver,” Frelix said.

The app gives community members a layer of safety and protection against a potentially tense interaction.

“Statistically we know both in Minnesota and beyond that people of color, especially Black people, have a higher level of interaction with law enforcement,” Hampton said.

Within seconds of being pulled over, the app can connect to an attorney who can provide guidance as to how to appropriately handle the situation. The app also records the interaction the utilizer has with the law enforcement involved.

“We’ve met with over 20 police officers to [vocalize] that our mission is to get you home safely as well. We received positive feedback from chiefs all the way down to boots on the ground officers,” Hampton said.

TurnSignl is becoming a part of benefits packages in many Twin Cities corporations such as Blue Cross Blue Shield, supporting the enhanced push for more diversity, equity and inclusion efforts in corporate America.

TurnSignl also is planning a pilot program that would give up to 3,000 residents of Brooklyn Center free access to the service.

Hampton and Frelix both said that, with their education at St. Thomas, they felt an increased obligation to do good in the community and to give back.

“It is a part of our culture of helping those who maybe haven't been afforded opportunities that we have,” Hampton said.