Reign FC Legend: Kim Bogucki

The Legends Campaign, a partnership between Seattle Reign FC and Avanade, honors women for their extraordinary contributions in the Pacific Northwest and beyond. Prior to our June 23 match against the North Carolina Courage, Seattle Reign FC recognized Kim Bogucki as a Seattle Reign FC Legend.

Bogucki is an officer with Seattle Police Department, and has been a member of the force for 25 years. She is also the co-founder of the If Project, a non-profit focused on intervention, prevention, and reduction in incarceration. The If Project connects law enforcement, incarcerated adults, and community partners, centered around the question, “If there was something someone could have said or done that would have changed the path that led you here, what would it be?” The If Project has reached thousands of men, women, and children through workshops and trainings for incarcerated adults, youth programs, and mentoring and re-entry programs for incarcerated women.

In addition to her service with the Seattle Police Department, Bogucki has been one of the department’s LGBTQ liaison officers for more than 20 years. She is also a former collegiate athlete with strong ties to soccer in Seattle.

Q: You played basketball and soccer at Seattle University. What was it like managing both of those at once?

A: I was on the first soccer team that Seattle University ever put together. We were literally recruiting women in the dorms, asking, “Have you ever played soccer? Do you want to play soccer? We need to put a team together.” I started out playing forward but we had no goalie and I had goalie experience. So, they put me back in goal and it was like a shooting gallery on me. I think I ended up making second team all-league just because of my save amount, even though I don’t think we won a game.

I only played basketball for one year and I hurt my knee. I didn’t go back after that, I traveled abroad during the season and just played intramurals.

Q: Can you explain the If Project, and what it is that you do?

A: The If Project is ten years old, and it started when I got asked to work with a group of girls whose mothers were incarcerated. When I walked into the room to meet these mothers I realized that I had some pretty significant bias about people who end up incarcerated. We started having a conversation, and they didn’t want to talk to me at first. When they started sharing their stories I remember thinking that they were a plethora of knowledge, and we were missing the boat by not taking their experiences and sharing them.

In order to keep the dialogue going, I asked that “if” question: If there was something someone could have said or done that would have changed the path that led you here, what would it have been? Now we have 3,000 handwritten answers from women, men, and youth that are incarcerated. We’ve built six programs around the answers of the people most affected, and always have them at the table. It’s bridging the gap in community between police and the people most affected by incarceration. As police officers, we look at the story behind each arrest, and figure out how we can do things differently so we don’t have to arrest so much.

Q: When did you have the idea for something like the If Project?

A: It started when I was working on Broadway on bicycles. I had a lot of contact with the homeless youth up there. We had an incident go down between some police officers, a homeless youth, and a couple. The kids were trying to make some posters for a community event, and the couple was upset that they were blocking the sidewalk. I thought, “These kids are wanting to engage in community, and you’re upset because they’re blocking the sidewalk, and you’re going to call the police?”

I watched the officer not really know what to do, and I realized we don’t really know a lot about the youth that we’re continually having to serve. I went up the next day and found their organization, and I asked if it would be possible to sit down and talk. We built a program — bringing what people would consider two opposing sides — together to learn more and create a population that can peacefully co-exist and find commonality in the misperceptions that we have of each other.

Q: When did you start to take an interest in police work, or community work at-large?

A: It started at Seattle U. They were really big on social justice and giving back to the community. I worked at a soup kitchen, which made me look at homeless people differently. Also, in high school I was part of Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) and we spent a week on the streets of Seattle downtown. That’s when my eyes were opened to what the experience was like, and how drastically different it was. I wanted to figure out how I could work with kids. When I was at Seattle U we had a police officer come in and talk about her job. She said the one thing she loved the most was being able to work with kids. I had just spent the summer working with kids and living on the streets, so that was when all the lightbulbs went off. I thought, “I can be a police officer which is cool, and I can work with kids on the street.”

Q: What is the most rewarding part of your job?

A: It’s an honor to be able to amplify the stories and the voices of people that are silenced in our population. They trust the project enough to allow us to do that. I’m continually humbled by that experience.

Q: What advice would you give to women entering the work force?

A: Always be true to yourself, and never think that you can’t do something.