CompStat is a strategic management tool that is used in police departments to achieve both short-term and long-term goals (Walsh, 2001). The approach utilizes “technology, operational strategy, and managerial accountability to structure the delivery of police services and provide safety to communities” (Walsh, 2001, p. 350). It is similar to the Six Sigma and TQM models. Although it was started by the New York City Police Department, it is now being used by many agencies in the US (Walsh, 2001, p. 347). This paper aims at discussing the benefits and problems that are associated with CompStat. It highlights what the literature suggests about the organizational management approach and compares it with current practice.
Benefits associated with CompStat
Various law enforcement agencies use CompStat to evaluate the numbers and locations of illegal activities that negatively impact the quality of lives of persons in society. The management approach supports customization of offenses to reflect events that are tracked by specific agencies. The excellent technology applied in the tool enables analysts to view graphs that demonstrate whether crimes have increased or decreased over a period. In fact, police officers are able to view detailed information, which can be used to show the dynamics of each quality of crime (Walsh, 2001). Some of the factors that are analyzed include the time, date, and location of criminal activities. The organizational management instrument provides statistical reports without the need to use multiple crime accounts (Willis, Mastrofski & Weisburd, 2007). CompStat is used by leaders to create innovative management strategies that go a long way in exerting leadership in a manner that responds to internal and external demands. Leaders in police departments in many states in America use the tool to pinpoint areas that have problems, implying that random patrols, which are relatively expensive, are reduced or eliminated. As a strategic management tool, CompStat is used by managers to determine locations where police officers meet or exceed objectives and offer positive acknowledgments (Walsh, 2001).
Problems associated with CompStat
Many critics have argued that the organizational management program might deter police officers from taking crime reports in society to falsely claim that problems in the community are reducing. In fact, there are allegations that supervisors and commanders who are under pressure to reduce crime rates annually falsify crime statistics to retain their jobs. Another problem associated with the use of CompStat is that it leads to negative impacts on workers and financial disbursements for the reason that some communities are not allocated adequate resources to fight crime. This is due to the fact that false CompStat reports indicate that the crime rates in the affected communities have reduced remarkably (Walsh, 2001).
The literature and match with current practice
The literature shows that community policing is a management approach that emerged in the 20th century to offer alternatives to the then management practices of policing (Walsh & Vito, 2004; Willis et al., 2007). At the core of the community policing and CompStat is the use of computer information that is crucial in analyzing, mapping, and processing weekly crime statistics. The literature shows that the following are the four main processes that are associated with the management program:
- Accuracy and timeliness of intelligence
- Rapid deployment of workers
- Effective assessments
- Tactical approaches
However, current practice indicates that CompStat is not a tool that can be applied to control crime quickly. Thus, the literature does not match with current practice. More effective police departments require overall organizational changes that would be typified by quicker adaptation and better structural changes (Walsh & Vito, 2004).
CompStat is a strategic management process that combines past paradigms in police departments with organizational platforms of the business sector. It is utilized in many police departments in the US to reduce crime rates in society.
Walsh, W. F. (2001). COMPSTAT: an analysis of an emerging police managerial paradigm. Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management, 24(3), 347-362.
Walsh, W. F., & Vito, G. F. (2004). The meaning of Compstat analysis and response. Journal of contemporary criminal justice, 20(1), 51-69.
Willis, J. J., Mastrofski, S. D., & Weisburd, D. (2007). Making sense of COMPSTAT: A theory‐based analysis of organizational change in three police departments. Law & Society Review, 41(1), 147-188.