The main goal of Compstat is to develop specialized solutions to combat criminal activity. The program aims to improve management of police resources and operation of the department. It promotes communication among the department to implement resources efficiently and to generate effective solutions to reduce crime.
The Fort Worth Police Department sought to reduce crime by targeting disorder and nuisance crimes in the neighborhood to test the “broken windows” theory of crime control. The goal was to reduce disorder in the neighborhood, improve citizens’ quality of life, and reduce more-serious crimes.
Areas in Fort Worth identified to have high crime rates or rates of disorder were targeted in this program.
The Compstat (Fort Worth) program is based on the original Compstat, which was implemented by the New York City Police Department in the 1990s. Compstat is a police management program with the basic components of accurate and timely intelligence, rapid deployment of personnel and resources, effective tactics, and relentless follow-up and assessment. The Fort Worth Police Department implemented its own version of Compstat in September 2002.
The primary component of the Fort Worth Police Department Compstat is known as “focusing,” which entails proactive engagement and specialized interventions in law enforcement crime control efforts. The Fort Worth Police Department implements this element and other basic components of Compstat using the “All Staff Meeting” approach. This approach holds frequent intensive meetings to discuss crime strategies. Headquarters meetings are held every 2 weeks, while division meetings are held every week. At these meetings, commanders identify problems in their areas and present potential solutions, and every police officer is required to participate. Geographic information system (GIS) analysts at the department provide crime analyses based on GIS mapping; lag time is less than 24 hours, so they are able to identify criminal activity quickly. This detailed information is used to identify crime hot spots and to develop crime prevention strategies. Crime mapping technology is a vital element of Compstat for the Fort Worth Police Department. Police commanders are responsible for reporting results of proposed solutions, which helps with accountability and motivates the police officers to act more proactively and efficiently.
No special units were created in the department to specifically implement Compstat, but existing divisions were delegated to implement specific aspects of the program. The timely and accurate crime information that Compstat helped provide made the enforcement more effective. Different units were targeted to sites that had been identified as hot spots for different types of crime, including drug enforcement and gang enforcement units. Broken windows enforcement against disorderly conduct and nuisance crimes was enforced using the agency’s Neighborhood Police Officers. The remaining units were patrol-enhanced information and directed efforts, detectives to provide proactive approaches to investigations, community policing neighborhood patrol, structured tactical units, patrol special duty assignments, and centralized and specialized investigations units. Zero-tolerance units were also implemented, with officers who were employed to use targeted enforcement to solve predominant crime issues rather than answering calls for service.
All officers of the Fort Worth Police Department, including GIS analysts, commanders, lieutenants, officers.
Compstat’s theoretical foundation is based on the broken windows model of crime, which postulates that a disorganized neighborhood will lead to an increase in crime. The theory is based on the example that if a window in a building is broken and left unfixed, it is a sign of disorder and that no one cares about the neighborhood. When the neighborhood is perceived as disorganized, crime will ensue. If society tolerates nuisance offenses such as graffiti, more serious crimes will follow as a result of the disorder. Therefore, if nuisance disorder crimes are targeted, serious crime can be reduced. However, the evidence of the link between disorder and crime has been mixed; thus, this connection has not been empirically proven in prior research. Broken windows offenses have not been proven to be a vital element to the Compstat crime control program.