The meetings begin every day at Washington, D.C., police headquarters with a rapid-fire rundown of the most recent crimes in the city; then the attention shifts to the police commanders who are supposed to be doing something about it, reports the Washington Post, which was allowed to observe recent sessions. For 90 minutes each weekday, top commanders and detectives discuss trends and recent incidents in a high-tech, dimly lighted room with large projection screens that display maps and photographs of suspects and crime scenes. Begun in 2002, the sessions have evolved into a centerpiece of the anticrime strategy of Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey. He said the approach contributed to an 11 percent drop in crime this year compared with last. In 2003, the city recorded a 3 percent overall decrease in crime from 2002.
Ramsey expanded on an idea developed in the 1990s by New York City’s police, which revolutionized the use of staff meetings and computer-generated crime analysis to better deploy resources. Agencies across the U.S. have adopted the program, known as Compstat; Washington has taken it a step further by convening five days a week. “Washington is ahead of any other city I know of,” said Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum. “It stands alone as one of the most significant and focused approaches to crime in any city.”