Philadelphia has eased up on the grilling of police captains under its version of the accountability program known as CompStat, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. In CompStat, police captains from across the city are questioned each Thursday by top department officials about crime trends on their turf.
Under Police Commissioner Sylvester Johnson, the meetings are shorter, the tone is friendlier, and captains are told in advance what they’ll be asked about. The Inquirer says that Johnson overhauled CompStat to purge the fear from what was a painful and even embarrassing ordeal for many captains.
Critics in the department call it “CompStat Lite.” The new mood reflects how Johnson has changed things in his own low-key image, modifying things done by his predecessor, the aggressive and boisterous John F. Timoney.
With murders, shooting and gunpoint robberies on the rise, and arrests falling, the bold Safe Streets anticrime prog+ram implemented by Johnson and his boss, Mayor Street, is facing its toughest test, the Inquirer says.
Crime fell dramatically during Safe Streets’ first full year. More recent figures have given GOP mayoral candidate Sam Katz ammunition to suggest the department is losing its edge.
Johnson painted a grim picture of CompStat under Timoney, who brought the technique from his years in New York City. He is now police chief in Miami.) But a Johnson critic said of Timoney’s methods: “The real tough crime-fighters had no problem. The crybabies are winning out.”
Some police believe that Johnson’s Safe Streets program may have weakened the raison d’etre of CompStat: to challenge captains to make use of the freshest data to identify emerging crime patterns and snuff them out before they escalate.