Criminology CompStat Models of Police Performance Management
by
S. Rebecca Neusteter, Megan O'Toole
  • LAST MODIFIED: 27 March 2019
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195396607-0264

Introduction

In the early 1990s, New York City, along with many other jurisdictions across the United States, were faced with burgeoning crime and a deteriorating quality of life, while the New York City Police Department (NYPD) simultaneously suffered from a lack of accountability and an opaque mission. In response to these challenges, the NYPD, then led by Police Commissioner William Bratton and assisted by his key strategist, Jack Maple, developed CompStat. CompStat, short for Computer Statistics, allowed the NYPD to geographically examine crime trends, define the agency’s mission with precision (i.e., to reduce violent crime), and hold middle-managers accountable for achieving this mission. Shortly after the NYPD’s introduction of CompStat, CompStat was quickly recognized as an effective tool in increasing a shared understanding of the police department’s mission, tactics to decrease violent crime, and promoting accountability within the police hierarchical management structure. This recognition resulted in rapid adoption of CompStat within the field of policing, to define and strive to achieve public safety goals and create an environment of middle-manager responsibility. CompStat also quickly began to serve as a model for performance management and accountability within criminal justice (e.g., within community supervision) and across the domain of government more broadly (e.g., across a municipality in CitiStat and other similar initiatives). CompStat continues to serve as one of the most commonly applied performance management platforms in policing with countless adoptions. CompStat, however, is not without criticisms and challenges. This multifaceted approach is reflected in the CompStat literature as well as in this bibliography. Sources of information pertain to CompStat’s General Overviews, Development, Theory, Applications, Commentary, Organization, Community Policing, Adoptions, and Future Directions. This bibliography provides context and references, in this order, related to CompStat.

General Overviews

Several texts provide introductory and/or comprehensive overviews of the CompStat. Moore 2003 provides a concise description of CompStat, its widespread implementation, and its impacts on policing strategy and crime rates. Informed by mixed-methods research, Police Executive Research Forum 2013 then accounts for CompStat’s development, integration into American policing, and future directions. For more in-depth information on CompStat, Henry 2002 provides context around CompStat’s history, theory, and applications; O’Connell and Straub 2007 describes its principles, benefits, and limitations.

  • Henry, V. E. 2002. The COMPSTAT paradigm: Management accountability in policing, business, and the public sector. New York: Looseleaf Law.

    E-mail Citation »

    This book, written by a former New York City Police Department (NYPD) sergeant, presents an overview of CompStat, with sections focusing on its history, theory, process, technology, and adoptions/future applications.

  • Moore, M. H. 2003. Sizing up Compstat: An important administrative innovation in policing. Criminology & Public Policy 2.3: 469–494.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1745-9133.2003.tb00009.xE-mail Citation »

    In this essay, the author explores key questions related to CompStat. These include defining what precisely CompStat is, examining if it’s a novel and/or strategic practice, exploring why it propagated so rapidly, identifying what makes it authoritative organizationally, questioning if it helps advance or suppress innovation, assessing if it increases the ability of police to decrease crime, and probing whether reducing crime equates to increasing a police department’s “public value.”

  • O’Connell, P. E., and F. Straub. 2007. Performance-based management for police organizations. Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press.

    E-mail Citation »

    This book provides a detailed account of CompStat’s history, as developed and implemented originally by the NYPD, and explores its impact on communication as well as the management framework’s core principles, purpose, philosophy, benefits, limitations, and criticisms. It also discusses CompStat’s viability and how the approach has been adopted in a number of different settings.

  • Police Executive Research Forum. 2013. Compstat: Its origins, evolution, and future in law enforcement agencies. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice: Bureau of Justice Assistance.

    E-mail Citation »

    Informed by a survey, executive session, and fieldwork, this paper describes the development of CompStat, implementation challenges and strategies for success, and future directions for the tool and its continued expansion.

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