NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Cities Use NYPD's Compstat System to Reduce Crime

May 5, 2004

Since the mid-1990s, New York City's police department has used a new management program based on predicting and preventing crimes before they happen. Known as Compstat, the program emphasizes the use of updated weekly data on crime statistics in various precincts, and more "hands-on" leadership from commanders and accountability from officers.

Nationwide, crimes dropped 4.9 percent between 1998 and 2002. Many cities have adopted Compstat techniques because former NYPD officials have taken charge of their police departments. The results have been amazing, say observers:

  • In Baltimore, major crimes have declined by 39 percent over four years, under the direction of two former NYPD officials.
  • In Raleigh, major crimes dropped 13 percent.under a former New York deputy chief.
  • In Sarasota, use of Compstat techniques has reduced major crimes by 7 percent in one year.

Some officials in smaller cities argue that New York's big-city crime problems do not apply to them, and that Compstat's emphasis on gathering statistical information about crime occurrences would not be necessary.

However, Chief Jose Cordero of Newton, Massachusetts, who was formerly a New York City inspector, says that Compstat methods "have nothing to do with size. It's common-sense police management."

Source: Shaila K. Dewan, "New York's Gospel of Policing by Data Spreads Across U.S.," New York Times, April 28, 2004.


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