Compstat Program

The world of crime prevention has shown improvement with the implementation of a program that involves strategic management.  Referred to as Compstat, it is the combination of computers and statistics.  This program targets the reduction of crimes by gathering statistical data that breaks down crimes by category and by type.  This data provides percentiles that reflect crime patterns.  This allows crime agencies to stay a step ahead of crimes and therefore alleviate environmental factors that have aided in the continuity of crime.  This paper will speak on how Compstats increased awareness has provided a raised predictability factor that has proven successful in the reduction of crime rates.

Factors Necessitating a Crime Prevention Program
The New York Police Department in 1994 came to the realization that there was a lag in the collection of statistical data related to crime.  This development necessitated the need for a better process in which to stay current and organized in studying crime trends.  This need facilitated the mechanism to ensure precinct commanding officers accountability and to improve performance (Eterno, 2005).

Measures implemented by then Commissioner Bratton and executed by Deputy Commissioner Maple addressed an effective process wherein data gathering and collection were systematic.  This process was the early version of Compstat called Charts of the Future.  It consisted of simply applying stickpins to a city map geographically tracking crime.

The discussions that occurred on the use of this process opened doors, which led to further insight of gaps within the precincts.  These witnessed by inadequate presentations that did not provide detailed specifics of a complex nature in relation to the crimes that were committed.  This led to the belief that reporting results were subjective versus factual thereby inhibiting clarity of any trends (Eterno, 2005).
In light of these types of findings it was clear that documented organization for analysis was needed throughout the police precincts and existing departments.  Therefore, the launching of Compstat took place.  Changes included the initiation of integral monthly meetings for all boroughs.  From this meeting came the addition of two more meetings per week to review and discuss new strategies based on Compstat results.   Thanks to Compstat, police agencies now had an organizational management tool where crime maps and statistics are used to actively target crime in the areas where it is needed the most.  There are four principles of Compstat
Accurate and Timely Intelligence
Effective Tactics
Rapid Deployment
Relentless Follow-up and Assessment
(Lepine, 2010).

Dedication to these principles by each borough and precinct inclusive of every staff member can be a deciding factor of program success or failure.

Discussion of the Crime Triangle
A great assessment derived from Compstat data is that of the Crime Triangle.  It is an assessment of the strategy that robbers use when committing the crime of robbery.  It is a counter strategy to the criminal strategy, with the Elements of the Crime Triangle representative of the crime strategy as follows
Elements of the Crime Triangle Strategy
Opportunity to commit the offence Increase the risk of apprehensions
Ability to commit the offence Increase the effort to required to commit the offense
Desire to commit the offence Reduce the rewards available to the offender
(Atkinson, 2009).

The police agencies strategy response empowers businesses to change environmental factors that enable the crime of robbery to take place.  It helps businesses to be aware of the layout of the premises and what makes a particular layout appealing to robbers, and what makes them want to stay away.  Things for businesses to consider are the layout of the building, and landscape (Atkinson, 2009).
Premises should be open and uncluttered with a view of cash registers readily and easily seen through the windows.  Any signs should be displayed in a manner that does not block the inside view, and back entrances and windows should always be locked when unattended.  Keep trees and bushes pruned so they do not obstruct the view of the building from the street, and there should be clear space between bushes.   Layouts set up like this deter would be robbers from acting, and enable the ability to notice any strange activities in and around the business (Atkinson, 2009).

Analysis of Success
Compstat has been successful as seen in its many replications throughout precincts nationwide.   The Analysis reveals that the data collection process of weekly, summarized complaints, arrests, and citations activity, coupled with written recapitulation of significant cases, crime patterns and police activities including specific times and locations of when the crimes took place, is then uploaded and distributed via weekly reports to management (Vito, 2004).  

The weekly process involves documenting all crime and activities, taking this information from each borough and precinct, and then forwarding the data to the Chief of the Compstat Unit.  The data is then analyzed via the computer system and the analysis is generated as reports to all management nationwide (Vito, 2004).

The results derived from the computerized information system containing the report of crime and disorder statistics and increased meetings and communications have been successful in developing strategies that reduce crime by ensuring personnel is well informed about crime activities.  The data based on a weekly, 30 day, and yearly comparisons in evaluating compositions of change or analysis of continued trends in keeping track of crime activities and the development of innovative strategies for crime interventions (Vito, 2004).

Critical Analysis of Effectiveness
The data is easy to read and its evaluation in determining trends associated with crime as well as the deviations and anomaliesmake it possible to make comparisons between commands (Vito, 2004).  The mastery of the process is the ranking by each precinct regarding its complaints and arrests records.  This provides motivation for accountability.  Once Operational management is in receipt of the Compstat report problem solving tactics are soon underway in addressing activities.

The strategies developed are taking into account that the objective is not to simply respond to each incident, but to create change that is permanent in reducing or stopping crime, area by area.  Compstat as a management tool has an expanded impact that is very effective in its extension beyond the ability to address and reduce crime.  Its process is applicable to any organization and easily adapts to constantly changing conditions (Vito, 2004),  

Impacts of Societal Factors
Crime is a social problem that generates fear and gives a negative impact to the quality of life.  Studies have shown that there are three dominant models for the causes of fear the vulnerability, disorder, and social integration (Franklin et al, 2008).  Compstats expansion efforts take full account of the impact of crime on society.  Operation managers focus on strategies that will enhance community relations with precincts and officers.  Working together communities and police can affect crime with the provision of information that is invaluable in its contribution to Compstat reporting, and empowering precincts even further in the mission of crime fighting.  

There are two broad expanses of fear factors that affect society, and these again relate to a feeling of being in a location where one feels vulnerable, or there is disorderly conduct occurring.  The other expanse is that of ties to society resulting in reassurance in safety factors obtained in feelings of a connection to society.  These factors are fear facilitators and inhibitors (Franklin et al, 2008).

The strategic efforts of police agencies in collaborative efforts and being unified as a result of Compstats Computerized Information System Reporting, focuses on the nature of these two factors in strengthening the inhibitor factors, and increased reduction of facilitator factors.  The response of management and police officers to strategic planning and increased departmental communications in being informed of statistical measures, in turn addresses both fear facilitators and fear inhibitors.  Another success derived from the use of Compstat.

Predicted Technological Success and Failures
Compstat technically has a high rate for failure as its main data gathered is at police interaction levels.  Due to complexities that may be associated with the handling of particular crimes, much data gathered may not be adequate or captured at all.  As a result, the process in itself is self-limiting and as such is not a preferred outlook on a system that is the biggest breakthrough on crime prevention in the 20th century (Eterno, 2005).  Ways to defeat these limitations has been the incorporation of not only documentation supplied by field officers, but also the use of voice recordings.  This still enables Compstat to remain a simple process, capturing relevant data, and avoiding the loss of information at the scene.

There have been issues related to Compstats simplicity in light of the wide range of departmental duties.  These issues imply that Compstat technology may not have taken into account or addressed fully these aspects (Willis et al, 2003).  This brings to surface the effects of technologies shaping of human culture being influenced by human factors, and advises that Compstat reporting be not as well defined as it could be.  Considerations for Compacts success will be dependent on how well mainstreamed it is into current functionalities.

What the future holds for Compstat is dependent on factors relevant to processes in cohesive working conditions of an internal and external nature.  In other words, a process is only as good as the outcome.  The outcome is reliant on the tools, strategic tendencies, personnel, and purpose applied.  Each factor must have a balance for the achievement of success, and the knowledge that todays technology cannot fulfill tomorrows dream.  Police agencies have a lot of work cut out for them, which can be clearly seen as crime continues to plague society.

Daily focus provided to the advancements of strategic processes developed toward the protection of peoples rights as citizens of the United States of America, comes first, and police take an oath to uphold that right, even before tackling crime itself.  Therefore every process in place for crime prevention must have determining factors built on the precedence of upholding societies inalienable rights under the Declaration of Independence (Eterno, 2005).  Crime takes second place to the rights of society to live in an environment that provides quality of life in everyday interactions.  This is to signify that crime is not acceptable or tolerated.

Specific meaning is to imply that crime should not exist in society.  As it does, is to say that police agencies are not doing an adequate job.  Reduction of crime is a low quality response to existing factors.  Department heads and leaders of police agencies continuously strive for improvements in not only reducing crime, but also effecting permanent change in stopping crime.  They are under much scrutiny from society in relation to why crime is still a problem, and of why society cannot live without fear.  Such looks at environmental factors as these are what affect an industries funding, and budgeting as well as payroll, and rates of pay.

Future advancements for Compstat though it takes an expansive roll in viewing not only crime or internal diplomacies, it is reliant on how community policing is compatible to society as a whole.  The ability to seek constant change and to effect constant change in a world of ever changing principles is a pretty tall order.  Businesses have found success in doing just that, and Compstat has now turned police agencies into business type environments that can benefit as a productive organization the same as business constructs do.  This is one of the many achievements of Compstat.

Compstats effectiveness hinges on its diversity of use on all operational levels within a police agency.  One of the issues may be that it should start at ground level in a direct base for data collection.  It currently starts from the top in making management and leadership more accountable for police processes.  It assures the safety of society by enforcing departmental policies accurately and timely for the safety of society.  What it is missing is the direct information from the field officers.  For Compstat to be effective, all levels of police agencies must be in consistent and balanced use.  It is a systematic process and as such, any part of the system must be a working part.

Issues at hand stem from managements pressure in making sure that they are being accountable, and in doing so they have severely limited the freedom of judgment of field officers.  This takes away from the natural occurrence theme in data collection weakening results and thereby any strategic plans in combating various crimes.  To counter this problem, management needs to apply more training in areas they feel are needed in reassuring that field police are educated and knowledgeable on how to apply themselves accordingly, thus aiding the management process and enhancing crime reduction measures (Willis et al, 2003).

The issue at hand is the compatibility between management and field police.  Many field police feel that the application of Compstat as relayed to them by their superior, is restricting their effectiveness in doing their job.  This realization by upper management holds much value, and is a problem that needs solving.  To do this requires a contingent training program based on meeting department objectives as they apply to the use of Compstat.  This will empower police agencies at all levels (Willis et al, 2003).

Compstat is most effective because it pushes a department into making realistic, clear mission statements that are organized and specific versus missions based on a culmination of generalities derived from a broad set of objectives (Willis et al, 2003).  With all departments clear on the objectives and with the enhanced communication efforts instilled, at this point, what is left is to ensure full capacity training that covers every aspect, in gaining unity within the ranks. Forewarned is forearmed.

Areas to look out for are in keeping with realistic data capturing.  Operational managers need to stress the importance to field officers of the need for raw data.  That there is not a need to attempt to make the department look better statistically, by reclassifying data or inventing data (Willis et al, 2003).  All this does on the other end is making the entire police force look bad and inept because of false reporting.  

In Conclusion
Police agencies definitely have a long way to go in procuring feelings of no fear within communities.  Crime has repeated its cycles of frequency throughout history in combination with types of crimes committed.  The types of persons who commit the crimes and general attitudes displayed.   The use of Compstat provides police agencies with realistic opportunities to actually not only fight crime, but to combat it to an extent that not only reduces it, but can lead to the evolving of a crime free society, based on a crime by crime cessation thereof.  The more police are finding out about crimes, the individuals who perform them, and the environmental factors, brings them that much closer to stopping crime altogether.  It is the same as the research on disease.  The more that man knows about diseases, the more likely he is to find a cure for that disease.  Crime in itself is a disease that police are working on to find a cure, but in the meantime, their efforts are treating this disease so that it does not impede the overall opportunities for the quality of life promised by the Constitution to all.


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