Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Police adopting method of gleaning crime stats

COMPSTAT has been success in Minneapolis, NYC.

Thu May 18 2006

By Mary Agnes Welch and Bruce Owen

Winnipeg Free Press archives
Sam Katz: wants COMPSTAT
WINNIPEG police will overhaul the way they keep crime statistics, using the same model that former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani made famous and that cut crime in Minneapolis by 35 per cent.

Mayor Sam Katz wants a made-in-Winnipeg version of COMPSTAT -- police jargon for a computerized statistics program that allows police to track and map crimes in each neighbourhood on a daily basis.

That helps police deploy officers to stop a rash of break-ins or drug deals in a neighbourhood as soon as they develop and before they get worse, Katz said.

The statistics also help citizens and city politicians hold police -- from the chief to division commanders to beat officers -- accountable for rising crime rates or unsafe neighbourhoods.

"The key thing is to have a system that's factual, that tells it like it is right then and there," Katz said. "It makes sure you get the best value for your resources."

Giuliani, the superstar speaker at the mayor's city summit two weeks ago, was the architect of COMPSTAT in New York. It was a key element of his widely admired crime-fighting plan that included hiring 8,000 more officers.
In Minneapolis, where a COMPSTAT system was created eight years ago, crime has dropped 35 per cent, said Lt. Greg Reinhardt, the former commander of the data unit.

The computer system that married crime reports and mapping software allowed police to immediately recognize trends and rethink their tactics or deployments instead of relying on luck or guesswork, he said.

"If all your burglaries are happening in the afternoon, but all your burglary suppression is happening in the evening, maybe that's something you should think about changing," Reinhardt said.

Because weekly statistics in Minneapolis are available for easy viewing on a series of Internet maps, the public can also be enlisted to provide police with tips.

Winnipeg Deputy Chief Menno Zacharias said police already collect statistical data on crime trends in each division to develop new policing techniques.

An example is the work of the stolen auto unit. For about two years, it has charted theft trends in the city to pinpoint the worst areas. Officers then identify youth living in those areas who are known car thieves.

Most of Winnipeg's existing crime data is raw statistical information with no system in place to massage it quickly into something meaningful.

It's not certain yet if Winnipeg's COMPSTAT program will provide the public with weekly snapshots of crime in their neighbourhoods, even though that's a key element of programs in other cities.
Katz is waiting to see Ewatski's plan later this summer but suggested he would like the data made public weekly.

website page counter