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Program Profile: Compstat (Fort Worth, Texas)

Evidence Rating: Promising - One study Promising - One study

Date: This profile was posted on May 31, 2011

Program Summary

A policing management program that depends on the cooperation of the entire agency to create a “focused” approach to reduce crime and disorder. The program is rated Promising. The program did not result in increased arrests for all six types of nuisance offenses. However, there was an increase in drunkenness, drug offenses and disorderly conduct arrests. There was no statistically significant effect on violent crime, but an effect on the reduction of property and index offense rates.

Program Description

Program Goals

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.

 

Target Sites

Areas in Fort Worth identified to have high crime rates or rates of disorder were targeted in this program.

 

Program Components

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.

 

Key Personnel

All officers of the Fort Worth Police Department, including GIS analysts, commanders, lieutenants, officers.

 

Program Theory

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.

Evaluation Outcomes

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Study 1

Arrest Rates for Minor Nuisance Offenses

Jang, Hoover, and Joo (2010) found that the implementation of Compstat in Fort Worth did not result in increases in arrests for all six types of nuisance offenses. After the intervention, the monthly mean of arrests for three of the six nuisance offenses decreased; there was a 35 percent decrease in prostitution arrests, a 28 percent decrease in vandalism arrests, and a 16 percent decrease in vagrancy arrests. However, there was a 69 percent increase in drunkenness arrests, an 11 percent increase in drug offense arrests, and a 9 percent increase in disorderly conduct arrests. The net change was a 15 percent increase in nuisance offense arrest rates. After statistical analysis, it was found that that Compstat significantly increased broken windows enforcement in Fort Worth.

 

Part I Violent Offense Rates

According to the regression analysis, Compstat was not found to have a statistically significant effect on violent crime rates. Violent crime rates remained fairly steady during the period studied; the rates did not show any upward or downward trend, except for seasonal variations.

 

Part I Property Offense Rates

According to the regression analysis, Compstat was found to have a statistically significant effect on the reduction of property offense rates, when controlling for other explanatory factors.

 

Part I Total Index Offense Rates

Compstat was found to have a statistically significant effect on the reduction of total Part I index offense rates, controlling for other explanatory factors. These findings were quite similar to the outcome for the property offenses, since most of the total index crimes were property offenses.

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Evaluation Methodology

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Study 1

Jang, Hoover, and Joo (2010) employed two different time-series analyses to measure Compstat’s impact on crime in Fort Worth. Data was obtained from the Uniform Crime Reports (UCRs) from the Fort Worth Police Department, which are divided into Part I and Part II offenses. Part I offenses are serious felonies, while Part II offenses are nonserious felonies.

 

Part II nuisance offenses were analyzed to determine whether Compstat made an immediate impact on arrest rates for these types of offenses, and to determine whether increased arrests for disorderly behaviors were a fundamental component of Compstat. 

 

Arrest Rates for Minor Nuisance Offenses measured monthly arrests for six Part II nuisance offenses: drunkenness, prostitution/commercialized vice, vandalism, vagrancy, drug abuse violations, and disorderly conduct. The overall arrest rate was measured by the sum of these six categories per 100,000 persons. A time-series intervention analysis was used to examine arrest rates for these “broken window” offenses before and after the implementation of Compstat. Data was measured from January 2000 through August 2002 for the pre-intervention (32 months) and from September 2002 through May 2007 (67 months) for the post-intervention data.

 

Part I offenses were examined to determine whether Compstat had an effect on crime rates. A multivariate time-series analysis was used to analyze Part I offenses, and monthly data from January 1995 through December 2006 was used. Data was obtained from the UCRs and the Interuniversity Consortium for Political and Social Research. Using regression analysis, the examiners controlled for certain explanatory factors that might influence the outcome, such as unemployment rates, the percentage of young male residents, race, family structure, and residential mobility. To measure demographic and social structural variables, data from 2000 through 2006 was obtained from the American Community Survey and the 2000 U.S. Census. Unemployment rates were obtained from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. Each variable was measured at monthly intervals.

 

Part I Violent Offense Rates were measured by the total number of murder and nonnegligent manslaughters, forcible rapes, robberies, and aggravated assaults per 100,000 persons.

 

Part I Property Offense Rates were measured by the total number of burglaries, larcenies, and motor vehicle thefts per 100,000 persons, and arson was excluded.

 

Part I Total Index Offense Rates were measured by the sum of Part I violent and property offense rates.

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Cost

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There is no cost information available for this program.
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Evidence-Base (Studies Reviewed)

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These sources were used in the development of the program profile:

Study 1

Jang, Hyunseok, Larry T. Hoover, Hee–Jong Joo. 2010. “An Evaluation of Compstat’s Effect on Crime: The Fort Worth Experience.” Police Quarterly 13(4):387–412.


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Related Practices

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Following are CrimeSolutions.gov-rated practices that are related to this program:

Hot Spots Policing
Used by many U.S. police departments, hot spots policing strategies focus on small geographic areas or places, usually in urban settings, where crime is concentrated. The practice is rated Effective. The analysis suggests that hot spots policing efforts that rely on problem-oriented policing strategies generate larger crime reduction effects than those that apply traditional policing strategies in crime hot spots.

Evidence Ratings for Outcomes:
Effective - One Meta-Analysis Crime & Delinquency - Multiple crime/offense types
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Program Snapshot

Geography: Urban

Setting (Delivery): Other Community Setting, High Crime Neighborhoods/Hot Spots

Program Type: Community and Problem Oriented Policing, Community Crime Prevention , Hot Spots Policing, General deterrence

Current Program Status: Active

Researcher:
Larry Hoover
Professor
Sam Houston State University, College of Criminal Justice
P.O. Box 2296
Huntsville TX 77341
Phone: 936.294.1636
Fax: 936.294.1684
Website
Email