The introduction of COMPSTAT was an important event in the history of the New York City Police Department. Why is COMPSTAT important today? And why is it chosen?
COMPSTAT was, according to news reports on its use, a "statistical system for tracking crime" that was introduced in New York City in 1994. For one thing, this system used sophisticated statistical analysis techniques to pinpoint the areas where crimes tended to occur with the greatest frequency. This allowed the New York Police Department (NYPD) to devote the most personnel to these areas. It also tracked patterns in smaller, less serious crimes with an eye toward preventing more serious, violent offenses. Essentially, the program allowed the NYPD to track patterns in crime of all kinds in order to utilize their resources more effectively. It also made it possible for the NYPD to hold its leadership accountable for the performance of officers on the streets. According to statistics, crime has fallen more than 75% in New York City since the implementation of COMPSTAT. Though there are obviously many other factors in this transformation, COMPSTAT helped revolutionize the processes behind law enforcement in the city. It helps police leaders make sense of, and act upon, what might otherwise seem to be random criminal acts in a large population. As a measure of its effectiveness, and its continuing importance, the system, and others like it, is now used by many other police departments around the nation.