How CompStat Helps Cut Crime in New York City

Many businesses today make use of a performance management system to achieve their revenue goals. In 1994, the New York Police Department adopted a similar system to reduce crime and ensure the police department was maximizing its efforts. This computerized tool, called CompStat, works to track some of the most serious crimes in New York City by analyzing statistics and researching patterns and trends. Here’s a closer look at how CompStat helps cut crime in NYC:

How CompStat Works

CompStat, otherwise known as COMPuter STATistics and short for Computer Comparison Statistics, is a complete organizational management tool that provides a dynamic approach to crime reduction and resource management within the New York City Police Department. It was created by Jack Maple, a Transit police officer in New York City and originally tracked crime through push pins stuck in a map, a process that helped to reduce subway crime. It was later adopted by the NYPD and rebranded as CompStat.

CompStat is comprised of four key components that can be replicated by other police departments: timely and accurate information or intelligence; rapid deployment of resources; effective tactics; and relentless follow-up. The problem-solving tools and system includes weekly crime control strategy meetings to increase accountability; development of commander profile reports; crime strategy meetings at the Command and Control Center with representatives of District Attorney’s Offices in attendance; crime mapping and database collection systems.

CompStat Data

The entire CompStat system is entirely data-based. As a result, it is dependent on accurate information gathering and data entry. Management decisions cannot be made without timely and accurate information so those involved with sourcing and reporting data need to follow very specific protocol and adhere to certain processes. All employees are expected to act upon this data and everything is accessible by various departments. When a problem must be solved with the involvement of another government agency, such as at the county level with the Sheriff’s Department or at the state level at the Department of Corrections, the data must be accessible by all.

Value of CompStat

In an article published back in 2002, Garry McCarthy, deputy of commissioner of operations at the New York Police Department, explained how CompStat had taken over the New York City Police Department and was a critical component of the agency. It was, and continues to be, a valuable business management tool for the agency since it helps to organize information using different performance indicators and identify areas of improvement. Over the years, it has evolved into a complete system that allows for accurate measurement of all activities and accountability within the police department.

Since its implementation, CompStat has helped to track many major crimes, including murder, rape, robbery, shooting incidents and grand larceny. It can also track minor crimes, including public drinking and prostitution. However, one of the biggest benefits of this system is that it also keeps track of police officials. If a police officer is guilty of misconduct or there is enough reason to believe that a police officer is playing an accomplice to a crime, everything can be reported and tracked within the system.

Ultimately, CompStat helps police officers hold each other accountable and everyone is documented and analyzed. The reports are stored in the database and made available to all precincts for review. This creates a greater degree of transparency and helps all officers and officials better understand the overall impact of their efforts.

Effects of CompStat

According to a study by the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University’s School of Law, CompStat-style programs adopted by police departments across the country have contributed to a 5 to 15 percent decrease in crime. Between 1994 and 2012, CompStat has been credited for reducing 63 percent of crime in New York City.

Many police departments are also adopting cloud technology and developing custom software programs that allow for more accurate predictive analysis, documentation and tracking. For example, some police departments can make use of a cloud-based software program that generates predictive maps of where crimes are likely to occur so police officials can allocate resources accordingly.  

Since its implantation in the mid-90s, CompStat has help cut crime in NYC and has been readily adopted by several other cities across the country. It has helped many police departments streamline operations and obtain accurate data about current and potential crimes. Today, many police departments continue to use CompStat in conjunction with other software programs and cloud-based technologies to fight crime effectively. We can only hope that this evolving technology continues to keep communities and officers safe — and crime rates low — in the years to come.