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Measure Equals Manage

You can’t manage what you don’t measure. That is the essence of CompStat police management. CompStat is no more difficult to understand or implement than that. CompStat is not about rigorous statistical analysis or humiliating, encounter-group meetings. CompStat does not require sophisticated or expensive computer software.

CompStat is not about abandoning community-oriented policing, nor does it dictate a style of policing, nor does it demand any particular solution. CompStat is pin-mapping on steroids. It simply helps to draw sharp attention to problem areas. It puts facts in the place of impressions.

How police management decides to solve those highlighted areas is up to police management. It may require the formation of a multi-agency anti-gang task force. Or it may involve rolling one squad car by the location one time a day for a brief park and walk.

CompStat is not just for large, urban police departments. It can be used for small departments and for both suburban and rural departments. CompStat is not for crime analysis and trends. It can easily be used for traffic enforcement and crash-reduction strategies.

Where some policing philosophies are based on random patrol, CompStat is instead based on focused patrol: focused locations (hot spots, crime corridors) and focused times (time of day, day of week). With limited resources, it is an easy argument that focused enforcement is more efficient and effective than random enforcement.

Yet the enforcement action itself is left up to the creativity of the chief, shift supervisor or patrol officer. OK, so don’t call it CompStat…call it CityStat, CountyStat, CrimeStat, CrashStat, whatever. If you put the emphasis on problem solving and cultivate the natural competitive spirit that all cops have, or once had, they will take it from there.

The real shock is that both the press and the general public assume that is how we do policing, i.e., with some method, some focus, some rhyme or reason. Your citizens may be surprised to learn that random, aimless patrol is your anti-crime strategy.

All that said, one of the most valuable educational sessions at the last IACP convention was CompStat for Smaller Agencies. This session was based, in part, on the book “Managing Police Operations” by Phyllis McDonald. (www.wadsworth.com) Well, how small is “smaller?” One of the presenters was the chief from a 19-officer department.

You know the stats: 80% of the departments have 25 officers or less, and 50% of the departments have 10 officers or less. That means this book is required reading for 80% of the nation’s chiefs and sheriffs…because you can’t manage what you don’t measure.

Published in Law and Order, Jun 2009

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