CompStat in America Does It Work

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CompStat was introduced in 1994 by the New York Police Department. Since its implementation it has been used by many law enforcement departments around the country. The New York Police Department claimed a dramatic decrease in crime due to CompStat. With the research available this paper examines whether the use of CompStat actually led to a significant decrease in crime in New York. This research will expose the strengths and weaknesses of the CompStat program to determine if the New York crime reduction was a result of CompStat or a combination of other factors. Results show that although CompStat lead to a decrease in crime in New York it also led to many unethical police practices in order to maintain the decrease in crime rate.

Keywords: CompStat, compare statistics, crime reduction, NYPD


CompStat, "short for compare statistics, is the New York City Police Department's (NYDP) central management accountability model whereby commanders are held responsible for crime in their areas"(Eterno & Silverman, 2010, pp. 426-427). Implemented in 1994, the intention of the program was to escalate accountability inside the department with a viewpoint to additional effectual felony lessening. It is important to note that since external conditions, for instance, the economy and changing demographics do have an impact the level of felony in a society, crime rates do not directly reveal how fine a police department is operating. Nevertheless, the focal point of police functions and the deployment of capital may have an effect on the degree of crime. As far as CompStat is concerned, department commanders and department executives convene on an ordinary basis to assess performance capacity. The performance is usually assessed in the form of felony statistics and institutional data. Moreover, they converse tactics for plummeting felony in addition to administration of resources. (Willis, Mastrofski, & Weisburd, 2007).

The police commissioner and his managerial workforce query any person, whose precinct or department is not doing well, in accordance to their reputable performance objectives. If a department commander has not replied to the Commissioners demand over numerous CompStat assemblies, he might be subsequently detached from his position. Generally the department commander is relegated to a lower rank in the precinct. The latest data permit management to hold junior staff accountable for performance. This capacity to hold overseers accountable for their performance is, in accordance to New York Police Division, a chief motive for the program triumph. Even though CompStat has been mentioned as radical, owing to the lessening in felony rates in New York City, it is actually an application of attempted and genuine management and organizational techniques employed by corporations (Bratton & Malinowski, 2008).

The Accountability at CompStat

In accordance with the New York police department, the primary step in CompStat's means of accountability is to build up precise and well-timed intelligence. In order to evaluate performance in any class and expand a tactic for tackling particular objectives, the organization should at first have comprehensive, exact, and the latest information on present circumstances. These data are collected and scrutinized by a data analysis group. The data and outcomes are then submitted at frequently planned gatherings of all precincts leaders. Data are usually presented on charts of the city. The data normally depicts geographic patterns and tendencies over time.

The second step of CompStat procedure is augmenting effectual strategies. Strategies are augmented to attempt to resolve any tribulations that are uncovered through data scrutiny. This normally happens during the ordinary planned or strategy tactic gatherings. These strategy tactic gatherings which are a medium or forum for not only endorsing accountability, but for assessing the information and spotting problems. Better still, setting objectives, suggestion of solutions, and harmonization of efforts are also accomplished at these meetings. One of the gains of these gatherings is that management staff from all precincts are in attendance, which makes communication in the precincts more effectual. Under the CompStat procedure, tactic progression is planned around data compilation and performance assessment.

The third step in the CompStat process or procedure is fast progression of personnel and capital. After the first step notifies a manager regarding what is going on in their vicinity or precincts, and once more tactics have been augmented, it is vital to permit people in the field to assemble as quickly as possible. The organization yet has a responsibility in organizing the provision of resources. Nevertheless the verdicts regarding how to most excellently make use of the existing resources are frequently made at the inferior management levels. For instance, the patrols that ought to be utilized in a neighborhood and also at what time of the day. Provided that all of the objectives of the organizations are realized, superior management does not worry too much concerning the facts of how situations get resolved.

The ending step in the CompStat process is persistent trial and evaluation. Once a predicament is spotted, a tactic augmented and resources marshaled to put into effect, the organization evaluates its evolution. Is the tactic functioning? Are there some problems? Are there some fresh problems? A lot of people inside the New York Police Division believe that follow-up has been the main significant contributing aspect in plummeting felony cases in New York City.

Crime Strategy Meeting and the Technology Employed

In New York City the police precinct is split amongst seventy-six departments, nine police service regions, and twelve transit districts. Each one of these ninety-seven divisions gather together weekly and evaluates the data for each and every division. Crime strategy meetings are carried out each week, even though not each person gives a presentation at each meeting. This is as a result of the big size of the precinct. Nevertheless, given that presenters at the meetings are called on arbitrarily, each person should be set to present at each assembly. To pool on the data from the ninety-seven divisions, the New York Police Division's CompStat entity takes fifteen statisticians to evaluate the data. In addition to the statisticians, ten personnel members usually assist in collecting the statistics. Also, three to five personnel members at every division assist in the data compilation efforts. The information in its entirety is published in a weekly CompStat manuscript. The manuscript or the book is henceforth disseminated at the meetings. The New York Police Division normally makes use of an amalgamation of off-the ledge software such as, Google Maps or MapInfo Professional, pooled with a number of internally augmented data analysis programs(Skogan &Hartnett, 2005).

Basically, the system permits commanding officials the chance to reply to queries concerning patterns or differences in the data. In addition, the system permits commanding officials the chance to reply to available solutions. Once more, as a result of the size of the New York Police Division, the meetings are moderately planned. The data are split into two classes. The first class is the felony data and the commander profile report (CPR). A department's CPR is comprised of all of the relevant information concerning that commander, as well as meeting dates, years in grade, education, and special training. It also includes administrative data regarding his or her command. For instance, overtime, departmental vehicle accidents, and civilian complaints. Crime data are split into two classes. The first class is chief felonies. The second class is the slight felonies. A top priority of the New York Police Division's crime averting tactic has been to put into effect infringements of slight felonies such as, panhandling or public drinking. Imprisoning a person inadvertently prohibits that person from committing any other felonies while off the streets. An illustration of this is a crowd of people on the street drinking beer. One of them begins a brawl and individuals end up being detained for provoked physical attack or sent to the hospital. By apprehending individuals for public use of alcohol, the brawl never happens, and one gets harmed.

The crime strategy gatherings are essentially a medium for sharing facts and holding commanders accountable for their department's efforts. In addition, the meetings are meant to decrease felony crime rates and for their administration of their department's performance. Managerial personnel members pose queries concerning felonies and apprehensions. In addition, they do pose questions regarding explicit cases and actions taken up by the commander, so as to depict faults or verify enhancements. Commanders are anticipated to discern precise details concerning felony in their department and augmenting tactics to lessen it. While commanders augment precise tactics, the managerial staff keeps vigil on their accomplishments and disappointments. Incapability to acclimatize to new tribulations opens commanders to censure and probable criticism (Zink, 2004). One of the strategies employed used by managerial staff members during the gatherings is to openly rebuke commanding officials for sub-equality performance or deficiency of facts. This disgrace of persons who are not performing which has turn out to be unpopular amongst a number of police precincts, has been mentioned by creators of CompStat as a major contributing factor in put into effect accountability and encouraging officials to do well.(Weisburd & Eck, 2004) CompStat in the New York Police Division focused on revealing problems. The New York Police Division has extended CompStat by attracting a number of other precincts to partake in the gatherings. CompStat regularly incorporates crime mapping systems for instance ArcGIS and MapInfo Professional. It has also integrated a database collection system. This system can be home-produced or from off-the shelf providers for instance Information Builders. In some circumstances, police divisions have begun providing information to the general public through their very own web sites (Roberts &Roberts, 2007).


Hypothesis 1: The New York Police Department's effectiveness was inversely correlated to crime rate. This hypothesis was formulated so as to establish whether the introduction of CompStat has so far led to significant crime reduction in New York City. If New York has a low crime rate it means that the police have been effective in implementing the CompStat crime model. On the other hand, it also means that when the police are ineffective in their implementation of the CompStat crime model the crime rate increases.


The focus of this study of the future of CompStat was primarily conducted using scholarly literature searches, or secondary analysis, of all of the readily available peer-reviewed research. This includes online databases, as well as, web and library literature searches. The literature assessed highlights the positive, as well as, the negative aspects of the CompStat crime model. The research established the disillusion between the theortical concept of CompStat and its actual implementation and the effect that it has on the law enforcement officers involved. "The library based....research allowed for the careful selection and application of already established key concepts, prevalent themes and issues for investigation into the subject area" (Hobbs, 2008, p. 10). There was no production of new evidence only the examination and integration of existing ideologies.

Possibilities and obstacles of CompStat paradigm

Ironically, the remarkable achievement of CompStat model raises some possible problems. The first problem is that there is a discrete trend all through American policing to find a number of policies or practices that a different agency has put to good exploitation and to apposite it. Agencies loan these policies from other agencies made of diverse people with a unlike organizational culture and structure. Thus the broad principles of CompStat should be cautiously customized to the precise conditions, situations, and realities experienced by other agencies in other frameworks (Henry, 2002)

CompStat doctrines can be extremely adapted and applied to any police agency's specific requirements and goals. As a management model, CompStat has demonstrated its applicability all through the public and private segments. (Weisburd, Mastrofski, McNally, Greenspan, & Willis, 2003) CompStat persists to advance and to create outstanding changes in other areas. However, its roots are decisively planted in policing. CompStat persists to develop and to create outstanding challenges in the years to come. The CompStat model stands for a significant chance for the type of flexible and effectual administration style these challenges need. "The quality of living enjoyed by those who frequent and stay in New York has turned out to be better over the past ten years. There is a conspicuous positive change in this sense of security and civility all through the city. The greatly enhanced quality of life in conjunction with great decline in serious crime has dramatically improved the New York City image" (Herbert, 2005). Even though quality of life pointers are greatly hard to compute than reported felonies, it is apparent that New Yorkers see less graffiti and come across fewer thugs. It is also apparent that the New Yorkers are far less often approached by violent panhandlers than they were some years ago. Not only do New Yorkers have a great deal of lower actuarial possibility of becoming a crime casualty but they feel safer in addition. According to Susan Geoghehan (2006):

'Two components that are integral to the CompStat paradigm are also key features of community policing: solving problems versus simply responding to them, and recognizing quality-of-life issues as vehicles for criminal activity. The Broken Windows Theory asserts that if deteriorating conditions within a community are left untended, they will lead to more serious crime. The rapid deployment of resources that is a key component of CompStat gets immediate results, as opposed to other forms of community policing that make vague references to the eventuality of change."(p. 46)


According to Kelling & Sousa (2001), the CompStat program is "perhaps the single most

important organizational/administrative innovation in policing during the latter half of the 20th century"(p. 6) but, even the greatest innovations have drawbacks. CompStat's making New York Police Division commanders accountable for regulating felony has worsened into a state of affairs where the police leadership presses the junior staff to keep numbers low by any methods essential. The precinct's middle managers will do whatever they have to do to evade being hauled onto the carpet at the weekly CompStat gatherings. They are, by nature, determined individuals who yearn for promotions, and rising felony rates won't aid anybody's profession. The other drawback of CompStat is that when it was begun , it didn't foresee the "fudge factor."( Cordner & Biebel, 2005). That's the trait that permits local commanders to make it appear as if like felony has reduced when it has actually surged. Furthermore, in the early days, it was simple for a department commander to gain from CompStat. He or she had felony-ridden neighborhoods where basic policing methods might bring felony down. The problem is that once crime is under control the commanders have to become creative to keep their numbers down. No mayor or police commissioner desires to be the one clutching the purse when crime begins shooting up (Zink, 2004). Additionally, no departmental commander desires to be the one to convey the bad news that he or she does not have sufficient police to carry out the task. A major drawback associated with CompStat is that some police managers who spot the magnificent things CompStat can bring to the organization can take on in ritualistic recurrence of the obvious behaviors they have seen while the bigger picture avoids them(Cyr, 2010).