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CompStat: It’s Origins, Evolution, and Integration


CompStat is effective in monitoring and analyzing crime rates by using comparative statistics and geographical distribution maps. Since the initial launch of CompStat, it gradually evolved and adapted to the needs of the specific department, where it was both an analytical device and performance metric. The system also shaped the policing model required to operate in accordance with the data, which undergoes constant modifications depending on the technology available. Lastly, CompStat can be effectively used in conjunction with other policing models, which demonstrates its high levels of flexibility and adjustability.

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Historical Milestone and Evolution

In 1993, when the newly elected mayor of New York, Rudolph Giuliani, launched a campaign to combat street crime with the help of the CompStat program, much has changed in approaches to tackling crime. The program has in its functionality such elements as a multilayer dynamic approach to the analysis of indicators of personnel management and law enforcement resources, assessment and improvement of the quality of life, reduction of crimes, map of crimes by city districts, identification of local problems (Eterno & Silverman, 2010). As part of this program, street criminal activity was constantly monitored at certain points in the city, and the responsibility for suppressing it lay with the district police chiefs. It is important to note that CompStat was supposed to allow the police to stop the growing trend of crime at an early stage, preventing them from developing into big criminal waves.

The first New York City Police Commissioner appointed by Giuliani was William J. Bratton. By analyzing the given historical milestones, the system allowed to integrate a policy of zero tolerance for offenses. Bratton, who promised an implacable fight with criminals for every street, effectively used computer technology to identify emerging foci of potential crimes. In just two years, he reduced the level of serious crimes by more than a third, and murders by almost half (Eterno & Silverman, 2010). Life in New York, which previously had a reputation as the most criminalized metropolis in the United States, has become much safer. Both CompStat and other Giuliani innovations in the field of crime control were adopted for use by city authorities not only in the United States but also outside this country.

CompStat Policing Model Expansion

CompStat underwent major changes as it was spreading across the nation. The main advantage of the system was the fact that it can be tweaked and modified in order to suit a police department’s needs. It is important to point out that in all departments four common principles were adhered to, which are accurate and timely intelligence, effective tactics, rapid deployment, and relentless follow-up (Bureau of Justice Assistance, 2013). However, the system and the related policing model were including novel features, such as performance assessment. CompStat was not solely statistically comparing crime rates, but also measuring each officer’s performance and response factors (Bureau of Justice Assistance, 2013). The given features were added upon the system’s basic functional basis.

In addition, the CompStat policing approach was developed by other police departments in order to suit their needs. For example, the Chicago Police Department considered the system as a methodological tool and ideology of viewing it as not a solution but a method of obtaining solutions (Bureau of Justice Assistance, 2013). In the case of Los Angeles, LAPD’s use of CompStat was highly different from NYPD, because the police officers were tightly controlled by bureaucratic regulations. Thus, the CompStat Plus version emerged and evolved, which also added features, such as close collaboration, mentorship, and auditing (Bratton & Malinowski, 2008). Therefore, the policing model underwent a wide range of changes in various corners of the United States.

Confluence of Technology

It is important to understand that technological advancement played a central role in modifying the CompStat policing model. In addition, the database is updated daily with statistics and technological breakthroughs, such as identifying the number of shooting incidents and the number of victims of shootings, as well as the number of police calls. Police units using CompStat do not have their own software fully developed by their programmers or special consultants. On the contrary, these are confluent standard software packages that can be bought and used by any organization, not just the police. In addition, CompStat technology does not require sophisticated high-tech hardware. Several personal computers or a small network can manage CompStat even in the largest organization.

Territorial mapping involves the compilation of computer crime maps with the inclusion of a wide range of necessary information that also passes through confluence. All possible factors capable of influencing the commission of a crime were included in such cards. These cards provide an opportunity to conduct a study of the relationship between crime, time, and place of its commission, immediately identifying “high crime zones.” This information helps to predict the likely time and place of the crime, which allows the chief to send police forces at the right time and place. The flexibility and simplicity of the analysis provided by the map software facilitated a comprehensive examination of the causes of the crimes.

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CompStat can be actively integrated into various policing models due to its flexibility. For example, a security-oriented policing model can use the system to map out the high-risk zones to increase the presence of safety measures. However, in the case of a problem-oriented policing model, CompStat can be used to identify the most influential crimes and offenses and design a specific set of preventative measures. It is stated that CompStat can aid both the rational-legal bureaucratic model and traditional bureaucratic managerial model, which differ in terms of management (Kania, 2004). In law enforcement agencies, transparency of work within structures related to criminal proceedings is of great importance. This creates conditions in which mutual pressure on the part of employees of such structures on each other, joint responsibility, and non-specificity of work results are possible.

Such transparency of processes in the context of the given problems is destructive and requires elimination in the form indicated above. The more impenetrable the means of law enforcement are for each other, the better will be the efficiency. Evidently, with this method of recording crimes, firstly, artificial latency will practically cease to exist, and the state and society will receive objective statistics. Secondly, the independence of law enforcement agencies from each other is ensured when each structural unit solves its tasks. In addition, they do not care about whether the further course of the business will affect the statistics and evaluation of their work.


The main component of CompStat is a database that contains daily information about serious crimes in the operational service area of the police unit. Using CompStat allows timely and accurate collection of information, the rapid deployment of police forces and assets, contributes to the strategic resolution of problems. It underwent major changes as it was becoming more popular, and each department conducted confluence various technologies to suit their needs. CompStat can be integrated into multiple policing models by selecting the primary objective of the approach as a central tenet of the system


Bratton, W. J., & Malinowski, S. W. (2008). Police performance management in practice: Taking COMPSTAT to the next level. Policing, 2(3), 259-265.

Bureau of Justice Assistance. (2013). CompStat: It’s origins, evolution, and future in law enforcement agencies. Web. 

Eterno, J. A., & Silverman, E. B. (2010). The NYPD’s Compstat: Compare statistics or compose statistics? International Journal of Police Science & Management, 12(3), 426-449.

Kania, R. R. E. (2004). A brief history of a venerable paradigm in policing. Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice, 20(1), 80-83.

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