New Initiative Aims to Help Police Agencies Ensure Accountability to Their Communities

New York, NY – The Vera Institute of Justice (Vera) today announced Compstat 2.0, a new initiative to help police departments be more accountable to the communities they serve by measuring and evaluating the impact of their community policing practices, in the same way that current Compstat systems focus on driving down crime.

Earlier this year, the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing published recommendations on how to increase community trust in police through a wide range of community policing practices, including proactive partnerships with the community and civilian oversight of departments. The majority of police departments, however, do not currently have systems in place to measure their community engagement efforts or responses to community concerns.

To fill this gap, Vera, in partnership with the Police Foundation, will develop, test, and implement a national model for law enforcement agencies aiming to integrate community policing strategies with their existing Compstat processes. Compstat is a data-driven management tool that police departments use to respond rapidly to crime patterns. In Compstat meetings, police executives and precinct commanders review crime data that is electronically mapped by precinct and determine targeted enforcement strategies based on the data, such as increasing the number of officers in a particular area who can make arrests and issue citations. Compstat has been adapted by hundreds of police agencies around the country: a national survey indicated that nearly two-thirds of the nation’s 515 largest police departments had or were planning to implement a Compstat program. Originally pioneered by the New York City Police Department (NYPD), Compstat evolved from an electronic crime mapping system developed by Vera and the NYPD in the mid-1990s that replaced the physical pin maps used to track city-wide crime.

Compstat 2.0’s two-year initial phase, funded in part by a grant from the Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), includes a national assessment of current Compstat approaches and the development of a prototype that can be customized in small, medium, and large police departments to better institutionalize community policing. The prototype will include community policing measures—such as data on public satisfaction with police and residents’ fear of crime—that will allow agencies to make policing decisions consistent with community policing practices.

Findings from a national survey by the Police Foundation revealed that 59 percent of large police agencies are using Compstat and community policing methods simultaneously; however, police often manage them separately and rarely integrate them in daily policing practice.

“As a former police chief, I know how powerful the Compstat model is in leveraging the best problem solving capabilities police agencies have. Creating a next generation Compstat approach that will leverage those same problem solving capabilities and community policing strategies to address the broader set of harms that undermine our communities is very exciting and the Police Foundation is pleased to co-lead the initiative with the Vera Institute of Justice,” said Jim Bueermann, the president of the Police Foundation and former chief of police from Redlands, California.

Upon completion of the national assessment and prototype, further phases of the initiative will launch a multi-site demonstration of Compstat 2.0 models in a variety of agencies across the country, and provide training and guidance to help agencies adapt the approach to their local needs and resources.

“Police performance shouldn’t just be based on quantity of arrests and summonses, but also on the quality of their interactions with the community,” said Susan Shah, Vera’s chief of staff and director of this new initiative. “Measuring community-policing performance sends the message that these practices matter and that police agencies want to be held accountable for building trust with the people and communities they serve.”

The Compstat 2.0 prototype is expected to be finalized for testing in demonstration sites by September 2017.