CompStat360: A Data-Driven Policing Approach for Gun Crime

On July 26, 2021, the National Police Foundation (NPF) announced a partnership with the Manchester, NH Police Department (MPD) to implement a data-driven policing approach known as CompStat360 (CS360) to target rising gun crime. The approach allows agencies to be more data-driven in their police strategy, particularly through the use of crime mapping, which shows ‘hot spots’ or clusters of crime in an area. This information greatly helps police officials, city leaders, and community activists decide which markets and places to target. The approach relies on geographic information systems (GIS) technology which uses GPS coordinates to track crime.

The original CompStat began in the NYC Police Department (NYPD) with deputy commissioner Jack Maple, who mapped crime on paper maps while he worked for the NYC Transit Police. In 1994, the methodology was adopted by the NYPD after Maples was recruited by then-commissioner Bill Bratton. CompStat has proven to be valuable as a decision-making tool and is now widely accepted as one of the most important policing innovations in the last century. CompStat has also increased accessibility of data to researchers and the public because the software allows for rapid collation and dissemination of information at a pace that is much faster than the UCR. For  example, agencies such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Manchester, NH use CompStat to collate their own monthly and yearly crime reports, which are then posted online for public access. The CompStat data is updated daily, allowing for frequent (sometimes daily or weekly) dissemination of data.

Yet, in the original form, CompStat typically was limited to particularly serious crimes reported to the police. Thus, it would not account for the ‘dark figure’ of crime (i.e., unreported crime) and only accounted for a small portion of patrol activity that may not have be representative of the community’s highest concerns. As such, CompStat did not capture a comprehensive picture of public safety — namely, it neglected data on factors related to officer wellbeing and safety, community satisfaction, clearance rates, unreported victimization, complaints filed against officers, and use of force.

Since 2017, NPF and the Vera Institute of Justice have been leading the effort to revamp CompStat using funds awarded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA). The  revised version of the tool, CompStat360, was named with the idea that it would encompass the full range (hence, the 360) of factors needed to provide police with a more complete picture of public safety. CompStat360 builds from the best practices found in businesses, grassroots community organizations, and research methodologies to position public safety solution development to be owned collectively within a community.

In the research leading up to the development of CompStat360, experts identified several positive outcomes that integrate community policing and problem solving, such as:

-Providing accountability for problem-solving and community policing.

-Facilitating police and community collaboration and partnership in identifying public safety problems and understanding underlying causes of or contributors to them.

-Balancing crime reduction with community satisfaction and organizational effectiveness.

-Integrating rank and file perspectives and job duties into agency decision-making.

-Enabling law enforcement to measure progress toward a variety of indicators beyond crime enforcement.

-Creating a mechanism for community to actively collaborate with law enforcement to produce public safety.

Currently, NPF is working with policing organizations across the country to implement Compstat360, and Manchester, NH is one of these departments. According to MPD Chief Allen Aldenberg, “CompStat360 has provided Manchester Police with a framework to address community concerns, specifically in the area of gun crime, through engaging with community stakeholders and developing strategies to solve these issues. We have adopted the CompStat360 process for numerous other problem areas and have seen significant buy-in both within MPD, but also with our partners. CompStat360 has enabled MPD to be strategic and focused in our efforts.”

MPD engaged with NPF to develop an Advisory Team that will manage CompStat360, co-chaired by a community stakeholder and MPD representative. During the quest to determine the community’s primary public safety concerns, NPF conducted interviews with community members, organizations, governmental partners, as well as MPD officers and command staff. Themes from the interviews showed that increasing gun crime, as well as the fear of gun crime in the community were important areas to focus on. In response, the Advisory Team is currently developing a targeted problem-solving team that will develop metrics and propose solutions to address rising gun violence concerns. In other words, CompStat360 will provide structure and data to support data-driven approaches to target gun crime.

Like many places across the country, gun crime (and the fear of gun crime) is rising. MPD sees CompStat360as a promising, data-driven approach to proactively address gun crime concerns, and to elevate the community as an equal partner in the process. For more information, please see the resources below:

CompStat360 – Resources

Perspectives from the Field: Leveraging CompStat to Include Community Measures in Police Performance Management

CompStat: Its Origins, Evolution, and Future in Law Enforcement Agencies

Bureau of Justice Assistance CompStat Publications and Reports