Saturday, May 17, 2008

A Note From Crown Heights About Compstat

Compstat was a cornerstone of the famous drop in the crime rate under the Giuliani administration. Crime was charted geographically and statistically. Resources were allocated where they were needed to address developing crime trends. Precincts with a poor showing were called to task. The program saved many lives and made New York a much more desirable place to do business.
The system is prone to abuse. How a crime is classified and if it is recorded are decisions that are made at the precinct level. The suggestion has been made more than once that these judgements are being made to make the precinct look better. It has been alleged that the real crime picture is not so rosy.
While watching a police officer write a ticket, an idea occurred to me. Traffic tickets are numbered and inventoried. It is a rarity for a police officer to start writing a ticket and to void it. They are watched very closely.
I feel that crime reports should be written on similarly numbered tickets. At the scene of a crime report, a crime victim should get his own pink copy of the initial report. He should have the option of contesting the classification in an administrative hearing. The agency in control of statistical and informational compilation should be independent of the precinct in which the crime occurs. It could be called the Crime Statistics Compilation Bureau or something similar.
It should be city wide, and not beholden to any one precinct.
Such a proposal would eliminate a great deal of distrust in city neighbourhoods that currently is widespread. It might also change the crime statistics, making them more precise. This could save lives, and solidify the gains in the ongoing war on crime. There would probably be areas that would show no significant change in statistics. It would relieve the police of burdensome clerical work as well as help the police allocate their resources more effectively. As a separate governmental entity, it would have an incentive to respond to feedback from both citizens and police.
The police deserve enthusiastic support from the citizens they protect. Any distrust is unfortunate and detrimental to the mission of the NYPD. If however this distrust exists, it should be addressed. I believe that an independent agency administering Compstat is a good place to start
Copyright 2008 by Magdeburger Joe

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