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CompStat - or COMPSTAT - (short for COMPuter STATistics or COMParative STATistics) is the name given to the New York City Police Department's management accountability process. CompStat is a multilayered dynamic approach to crime reduction, quality of life improvement and, personnel and resource management. CompStat employs Geographic Information Systems and was intended to map crime, detect patterns, hot spots, and identify problems. In weekly meetings, ranking NYPD executives reprimand and threaten local precinct commanders from one of the eight patrol boroughs in New York City to point out their problems. They are made to devise strategies and tactics to solve problems, reduce crime, and ultimately improve quality of life in their assigned area or suffer being publically humiliated, transferred, and threatened with career derailment. Unfortunately, these meetings became increasingly combative, and precinct commanders are constantly pressured to increase productivity and better their own results. As this pressure to produce results increased, and Commanders were held more accountable, systematic corruption began to develop with the departments rank structure.


[edit] Origins

CompStat originated in the New York City Police Department in 1994, under leadership of Police Commissioner William Bratton and his Deputy Commissioner Jack Maple. They modified conventional community policing ideology by recognizing that in order for this department to be effective in reducing crime and in responding to the needs of communities, many operational decisions should be made by commanders at the precinct level. Precinct commanders are in a better position than Headquarters executives to appreciate and meet the particular needs of their communities and to direct the efforts of the 200 to 400 police officers that they manage. They are also in a better position than beat officers to understand and harmonize the agency's policies with the social dynamics operating within their geographic compass. To operationalize this, the NYPD's policies were revised to empower precinct commanders. Significantly expanded was their authority, responsibility and discretion as well as the degree of control they exercise over personnel and other resources. Conversely, the natural corollary of that expanded authority, responsibility and discretion is increased accountability.

[edit] Operations

[edit] Weekly crime reports

On a weekly basis, personnel from each of the Department's 76 Precincts, 9 Police Service Areas and 12 Transit Districts compile a statistical summary of the week's crime complaint, arrest and summons activity, as well as a written recapitulation of significant cases, crime patterns and police activities. This data, which includes the specific times and locations at which the crimes and enforcement activities took place, is forwarded to the Chief of Department's CompStat Unit where it is collated and loaded into a city-wide database. The data is analyzed by computer and a weekly CompStat Report is generated. The CompStat Report captures crime complaint and arrest activity at the precinct, patrol borough, and city-wide levels, and presents a concise summary of these and other important performance indicators. These data are presented on a week-to-date, prior 30 days and year-to-date basis, with comparisons to previous years' activity. Precinct commanders and members of the agency's top management can easily discern emerging and established crime trends as well as deviations and anomalies, and can easily make comparisons between commands. Each precinct is also ranked in each complaint and arrest category.

[edit] Accountability

CompStat. involves weekly Crime Control Strategy Meetings as a means to increase the flow of information between the agency's executives and the commanders of operational units, with particular emphasis on the flow of crime and quality of life enforcement information. In the Department vernacular, these briefings are referred to as CompStat (Computerized Statistics) meetings, since many of the discussions are based upon the statistical analyses and maps contained within the weekly CompStat reports. These meetings are an integral facet of a comprehensive interactive management strategy which enhances accountability while providing local commanders with considerable discretion and the resources necessary to properly manage their commands. It also ensures that they remain apprised of crime and quality of life conditions within their areas of responsibility, and that the Department's ten Crime and Quality of Life Strategies are fully implemented throughout the agency. The meetings serve as a forum in which precinct and other operational unit commanders communicate to the agency's top executives the problems they face while also sharing successful crime reduction tactics with other commanders. The process allows top executives to carefully monitor issues and activities within precincts and operational units, to evaluate the skills and effectiveness of middle managers and to properly allocate the resources necessary to reduce crime and improve police performance.

It is important to note that the weekly CompStat Report and Crime Strategy Meetings do not focus simply on enforcement of the seven major crimes comprising the FBI's Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) Index, but also capture data on the number of shooting incidents and shooting victims as well as gun arrests. Summons and arrest activity are also captured. Arresting or issuing summonses to those who engage in such minor violations and quality of life offenses as public drinking and public urination, panhandling, loud radios, prostitution and disorderly conduct, ensures that those behaviors are deterred even as a message of intolerance for any other incivilities is expressed. Aggressive enforcement of all statutes has been shown to restore a sense of order. Therefore, by capturing enforcement data as they are reflected in summons and arrest activity, the Department is better able to gauge its overall performance.

[edit] Commander profile reports

The CompStat Unit also develops and prepares another important performance measurement tool, the Commander Profile Reports. These reports are also updated weekly and permit executives to scrutinize commanders' performance on a variety of important management variables. All profiles furnish information on the unit commander's appointment date and years in rank, the education and specialized training he or she has received, his or her most recent performance evaluation rating, and the units he or she previously commanded. Every profile also captures such non-crime statistics as the amount of overtime generated by members of the command, the number of Department vehicle accidents, absence rates due to sick time and line-of-duty injuries, and the number of civilian complaints lodged against members of the unit. Community demographics and information on the personnel assigned are also included amongst the myriad information on this sheet. This data provides executives with the capacity to carefully monitor and assess how well commanders motivate and manage their personnel resources and how well they address important management concerns. The Commander Profile also acts as a motivational tool since the subjects of these profiles are obviously aware that the same objective criteria is being used to evaluate their peers, therefore they can monitor and compare their own success to that of others in meeting the established performance objectives.

[edit] Crime strategy meetings

Crime Strategy Meetings are convened twice weekly in the Command and Control Center, a high-tech conference facility at Police Headquarters. These meetings are attended by all commanders of Precincts, Police Service Areas, Transit Districts and other operational unit commanders within a given Patrol Borough, including the commanding officers and /or supervisors of precinct-based and specialized investigative units. Depending on their weekly crime statistics, every commander can expect to be called at random to make his or her Crime Strategy Meeting presentation approximately once a month. Also in attendance are representatives from the respective District Attorney's Offices, command personnel from the Board of Education's Division of School Safety and a variety of other outside agencies involved in law enforcement activities, the Transit and Housing Bureau Commanders whose jurisdictions lie within the patrol borough, the Crime Strategy Coordinators from other patrol boroughs, Internal Affairs Bureau personnel, and ranking officers from a variety of support and ancillary units (such as our Legal Bureau and Management Information Systems Division) which do not perform direct enforcement functions. This configuration of participants fosters a team approach to problem solving, and ensures that crime and quality of life problems identified at the meeting can be immediately discussed and quickly addressed through the development and implementation of creative and comprehensive solutions. Because ranking decision-makers are present at the meetings and can immediately commit their resources, the obstacles and delays which often occur in highly structured bureaucratic organizations also tend to be minimized.

Among the Command and Control Center's high-tech capabilities is its computerized "pin mapping" which displays crime, arrest and quality of life data in a host of visual formats including comparative charts, graphs and tables. Through the use of geographic mapping software and other computer technology, for example, the CompStat database can be accessed and a precinct map depicting virtually any combination of crime and/or arrest locations, crime "hot spots" and other relevant information can be instantly projected on the Center's large video projection screens. Comparative charts, tables and graphs can also be projected simultaneously. These visual presentations are a useful and highly effective adjunct to the CompStat Report, since it permits precinct commanders and members of the Executive Staff to instantly identify and explore trends and patterns as well as solutions for crime and quality of life problems.

During their presentation, members of the Executive Staff frequently ask commanders probing questions about crime and arrest activity as well as about specific cases and initiatives they have undertaken to reduce crime and enforce quality of life offenses. Commanders are expected to demonstrate a detailed knowledge of the crime and quality of life problems existing within their commands and to develop innovative and flexible tactics to address them.

As noted above, the weekly COMPSTAT meetings are but one facet of the Department's comprehensive system by which we monitor and evaluate our performance. There are also pre-COMPSTAT briefings convened at the local patrol borough level, Precinct Management Team meetings in each precinct and strategy evaluation projects conducted by ranking members of the department. In addition, the Police Commissioner meets with New York City's Mayor on a weekly basis to brief him on the department's activities and performance. He also provides the Mayor with a formal report capturing much of the data contained within the CompStat Report. Finally, a great deal of the CompStat data and other indicia of performance are provided to the public through inclusion in the Mayor's Management Report. This Report and the preliminary report issued four months into the Fiscal Year provide detailed comparative data on the performance of every mayoral agency within city government. The process permits personnel at all levels to monitor and assess the effectiveness of their efforts and re-direct those efforts when necessary.

The process described here truly represents a revolution in the way police agencies are managed and has been adapted for use in many other law enforcement agencies throughout the nation and overseas.

[edit] Critique

Some, however, such as University of Chicago economist Steven Levitt have argued that COMPSTAT's crime-reducing effects have been minor [1]. The introduction of COMPSTAT happened alongside:

  • The training and deployment of around 5,000 new better-educated police officers,
  • The integration of New York's housing and transit police into the New York Police Department
  • Police decision-making being devolved to precinct level
  • The clearing of a backlog of 50,000 unserved warrants
  • Mayor Giuliani's robust 'zero tolerance' campaign against petty crime and anti-social behaviour
  • Widespread removal of graffiti
  • Programs that moved over 500,000 people into jobs from welfare at a time of economic buoyancy
  • Offering housing vouchers to enable poor families to move to better neighbourhoods.

Another criticism of the COMPSTAT program is that it discourages officers from taking crime reports and that the perceived drop in crime is from this. [2][3][4]

[edit] External links


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