Austin police officials will dramatically alter how they monitor crime across the city and will use the information to help determine how many officers should patrol an area, when they should be there, and for what suspicious activity they should be looking, says the Austin American-Statesman. The department will use a program called Compstat, which will combine daily crime statistics with more aggressive law enforcement in high-crime areas, officials said.
The program, which will launch July 16, comes as the city has seen a surge in crime. Last year, violent crimes and property crimes decreased nationwide, but violent crime in Austin went up 5.8 percent and property crime rose 9.3 percent. Some police agencies have reported sharp decreases since introducing Compstat or similar programs, but critics have said those declines coincided with other factors, including additional officers. David Weisburd, criminologist at the University of Maryland who co-authored a study on Compstat for the Police Foundation, said his work found no strong evidence that it reduces crime. “That doesn’t mean it doesn’t,” Weisburd said. Austin police for years have used a similar program called Area Team Tactical Analysis of Crime created under former Chief Stan Knee to address neighborhood crime. Austin has spent about $252,000 for Compstat software and other equipment.