Compstat Spreads Nationwide, Sometimes Diluted


New York City’s Compstat program of police commander accountability is spreading nationwide, often via former New York officers, says the New York Times. Beyond well-known chiefs John Timoney in Miami and William Bratton in Los Angeles, the technique has been adopted in cities ranging from Baltimore to the Boston suburb of Newton. “It’s culture shock,” said Capt. Jeff Fluck, a 27-year officer in Raleigh, N.C., where an ex-New York deputy chief, Jane Perlov, runs the police department. “Miami’s a big city, and L.A.’s a big city,” said Jose Cordero, a former New York officer who is now chief in Newton. “The question that begs to be answered is, can the strategies be applied throughout the country, irrespective of size, economic and demographic conditions?”

Compstat began in New York in 1994 under Bratton. The system maps crime according to location and time, providing daily data that allow for strategic planning. At meetings commanders are grilled by their bosses about crime trends in their precincts and what is being done about them. Compstat’s principles have been adopted nationwide. “Right now, there are so many variations on a theme,” said John Firman, research director at the International Association of Chiefs of Police. “It’s not the New York model anymore. It may be the New Orleans model that went to Baton Rouge.”

What New York calls accountability, others call public humiliation. “It’s not like it’s supposed to be demeaning,” said Daniel Fickus, president of the police union in Baltimore, who said the meetings seemed to stifle new ideas. Several chiefs have toned down the confrontational aspect, emphasizing information sharing. Peter Abbott, chief in Sarasota, Fla., formerly of Queens, calls his version a “kinder, gentler Compstat.” Chief Daniel Oates, now in Ann Arbor, Mich., calls his “Compstat Ultralite.”


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