In the year 1994, a group of police officers from the New York police department projected that crime prevention and order maintenance could be attained with ease through the adoption of an integrated problem-solving strategy (McDonald & Greenberg, 2002). Later that year, the police officers developed and implemented a crime strategy identified as COMPSTAT. The strategy makes use of information technology, operational approach, and managerial accountability to manage crime. This strategy utilizes Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to identify crime-prone areas. This article seeks to evaluate the effectiveness of COMPSTAT and other related information technology strategies in policing.
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COMPSTAT comprises of four basic information system functions. These functions are input, processing, output, and feedback. Input entails the collection of precise and appropriate crime information. Through this, the police departments can evaluate what type of crime is to occur, the scene of the crime, the time of the crime, and the causes of the crime. Precise and appropriate information is very vital for the efficiency of COMPSTAT strategy since responsive choices are to be made from them (Silverman, 2009). In this regard, input data should be credible. Sources of crime inputs include crime reports, crime scene photographs, and witness interviews. The next information system strategy employed by COMPSTAT is processing. Processing begins after the acquisition of timely and accurate information. This process entails the formation, development, and execution of crime mitigation policies to reduce the occurrence of the recognized crime. Having understood the recurring problems and their solutions from the experiences, police officers would be able to communicate and delegate duties to their juniors to ensure that the best solution is achieved. For processing strategies to be effective, commandants should delegate appropriate resources at all facets of the problem.
The third information system strategy employed by COMPSTAT is output. The output comprises of rapid deployment strategies. After a problem has been recognized and suitable resources put together into a strategic plan, control personnel are supposed to deploy some personnel before their target leaves the crime scene. Since the adoption of the COMPSTAT process, rapid deployments have helped the police officers tackle crime incidents such as riots and active shooters. The last information strategy is feedback. Feedback involves follow up and assessment. This requires the commandants to review the impact of their strategic plan on the target. Regular follow-up meetings will come in handy for such needs. During this process, those in control will evaluate whether the plan met or accomplished the desired objective. If the goals were not met, relevant recommendations on whether to change or repeat the plan should be implemented.
In the recent past, information systems have allowed police departments to respond and mitigate crime faster. Information systems have allowed police departments to store crime information in a single location. Through this, information from the previous crime scene can be accessed with ease. Equally, the adoption of information systems has enabled the police department to apply logical calculations on the collected information. Through this, the police can predict when and where the next crime will be carried out, enhancing their mitigations. Compared with patrolling, COMPSTAT has enabled the police to fight crime with ease. As such, patrolling enables the police to collect limited information; hence no accurate predictions can be made. With the emergence of new crimes, more information will be collected and stored in the database to create precise information for future crimes.
On the other hand, street patrolling does not provide the police with relevant information or guides for future crimes. With the adoption of the information system, police have been able to map crime scenes with ease using Geographic Information System. This has not only enhanced the mitigation process but also ease the deployment process. Therefore, the adoption of an information system in the police department has brought several benefits compared with street patrolling.
SWOT analysis of the COMPSTAT process results in the following information. As illustrated above, predictive policing is a very efficient way of controlling crimes. Therefore, it is apparent that predictive policing would enable the police to control crime with ease, alleviate the collection of crime data, and reduce the incidences of crime in our communities (Willis, 2004). The police would be able to mitigate crime because the use of information system tools such as COMPSTAT would allow them to collect and process accurate and timely data. Despite its usefulness, it should be noted that predictive policing is not error-free. Just like any other information system, humans can corrupt COMPSTAT. As such, the system can be manipulated by feeding in inaccurate data. With the advancements of technology, many opportunities will emerge from this system, and more security agencies would adopt it. In the future, the developments of user-friendly software would progress the advancement and the adoption of this system. Currently, human manipulation is believed to be the greatest threat to the system. As humans continue to feed false data into the system, the more the efficiency of the system decreases.
McDonald, P. P., & Greenberg, S. (2002). Managing police operations: implementing the New York crime control model CompStat. Belmont, Calif.: Wadsworth Pub.
Silverman, E. B. (2009). NYPD battles crime: innovative strategies in policing. Boston: Northeastern University Press.
Willis, J. J. (2004). Compstat and organizational change in the Lowell Police Department: challenges and opportunities. Washington, DC: Police Foundation.