Modernizing CompStat for the 21st century

Lenny Nerbetski

CompStat is a “performance management system that is used to reduce crime and achieve other police department goals. CompStat emphasizes information-sharing, responsibility and accountability, and improving effectiveness,” and “empowers police agencies to place a strategic focus on identifying problems and their solutions.”

What is CompStat?

During its inception, the CompStat approach marked a significant transition in law enforcement strategies. It moved away from a predominantly reactive stance, where the primary focus was on responding to crimes already committed, to a proactive approach centered on recognizing patterns and preventing crime.

CompStat is characterized by its emphasis on communication, responsibility, and enhancing efficiency. This model is built around four fundamental pillars:

  • Timely and accurate information

  • Resource allocation

  • Effective tactics

  • Eliminates relentless follow-up

Modernizing CompStat for the 21st century

Public safety agencies must be able to measure how they are performing against their goals. Having a deep understanding of which tactics and strategies are working — and which aren’t — allows departments to better serve their communities.

To help solve this, CompStat was invented by Jack Maple in the early 1990s in concert with the New York Police Department (NYPD). CompStat is a “performance management system that is used to reduce crime and achieve other police department goals. CompStat emphasizes information-sharing, responsibility and accountability, and improving effectiveness,” and “empowers police agencies to place a strategic focus on identifying problems and their solutions.”

In the 90’s, “NYPD’s initial approach mapped crime statistics along with other indicators of problems, such as the locations of crime victims and gun arrests.” A lot has changed since then, including the amount of data available, the speed at which information evolves, and the breadth of responsibilities for police departments. Unfortunately, most legacy systems law enforcement departments deploy lack the technical capabilities to manage the speed and amount of data being collected today. Departments need real-time, dynamic data to formulate better, more creative policing strategies suited for the 21st century.

Peregrine, a cloud-native data integration platform purpose-built on AWS for public safety, unlocks departments’ data for smarter decision-making and streamlined operations. Our technology, the smart default for public safety, was built with a deep understanding of how everyone within public safety agencies work and interact with data. This ensures CompStat data is incredibly granular and analyzed in real-time, enabling law enforcement officials at every level to better identify problems and craft more effective solutions.

Timely and accurate information with CompStat

A core component of CompStat meetings is timely and accurate information. CompStat typically assesses violent crime and property crime rates year-over-year in 7-day, 28-day, and annual windows, though this can vary across departments.

The most timely and accurate data is complete, dynamic, and viewed in real-time. Unfortunately, most CompStat meetings are static presentations, using days-old data in slide decks. Out-of-date information is not only ineffective but can also negatively impact operations because emerging crime trends or opportunities to improve resource allocation could be missed.

Typically, analysis of a particular crime — let’s use a violent crime like armed robberies as an example — is assessed across the entire precinct. But that view is too broad and doesn’t tell the whole story.

The best way to make better decisions and formulate better strategies is to ask better questions to get better answers. Peregrine allows CompStat facilitators, analysts, and command staff alike to ask the best and most nuanced questions of their data, using real-time information, not data that can be days old, or more. 

Peregrine also allows participants to drill down and understand on a block-by-block basis where those thefts are happening and what times of day they’re occurring. Because Peregrine integrates data from all a department’s systems, like evidence, ALPR, and body worn camera footage — as well as external data sources and information from other local, state, or federal public agencies — statistics on pertinent violent crimes and property crimes statistics can be augmented with other information to create a more dynamic discussion about problems, their underlying causes, and possible solutions.

CompStat and resource allocation

Obtaining solutions is only half the battle. Modern law enforcement must address rising crime trends with increasingly limited resources. In 2021, there was a 45% increase in police retirements and an 18% jump in resignations year over year. Meanwhile, thefts and robberies in major cities increased by around 20 percent in the first half of 2022.

In 2023, these ongoing challenges in police employment, marked by significant rises in retirements and resignations in the previous years, continue to exacerbate the strain on law enforcement agencies struggling to keep pace with the evolving demands of public safety.

Without real-time, data-driven insights, crime prevention efforts are often geared towards an entire community instead of the drivers of crime — an inefficient allocation of resources. By integrating Peregrine into CompStat meetings, leadership is empowered with accurate data on crime trends and involved persons. Command staff will truly understand the root causes of crime on a granular level and can deploy officers and other resources accordingly to most effectively reduce crime.

Peregrine shrinks the delta between decision-making and action, so department leadership and personnel can focus on what matters most for public safety — and effectively do more with less.

Effective tactics

As departments use real-time data to power CompStat meetings and more effectively deploy resources, the next step is to ensure those on the ground — patrol officers — can access to the same depth and accuracy of information in the field as the command staff.

Imagine officers are called to a scene, and they know in advance that the subject has had prior behavioral health incidents. They will be better able to deploy specific approaches that can effectively deescalate the situation. The same is true of a potentially dangerous encounter — knowing in advance if a suspect has been involved in violent crimes can help them to formulate an effective approach and potentially save lives.

With Peregrine, law enforcement agencies, social service organizations, other city departments, and the community can begin to collaborate on the best approaches for making a positive impact, reducing crime in their communities.

How CompStat eliminates relentless follow-up

Data-driven decisions are crucial, but not the end of the process. It’s a cycle — from making decisions based on information to measuring the efficacy of those decisions against department-level goals, and then making better decisions to augment the tactics that are working and to change those that aren’t.

Peregrine enables this cycle to be truly continuous by putting everyone across the department on the same page. Patrol officers can use Peregrine on their phone or mobile data terminals (MDT), accessing the most up-to-date information. The same is true of investigators and analysts, in the field or at HQ.

Because everyone is working with the same, real-time data to make decisions in line with the strategies outlined by command staff, department leadership doesn’t need to wait for the next CompStat meeting on the calendar to assess the efficacy of their strategies. At any point, Peregrine enables departments to collate reports in minutes with high confidence in the accuracy of their data.

Like everything else we do, our dynamic reports are based on real-time information. They can be analyses of specific variables or trend summaries, on an ad-hoc or recurring basis. Not only does this improve leadership’s ability to make data-driven decisions and assess progress against strategic priorities, but it’s also easy to securely share proactive reports on public safety efforts with their city council, mayor, or their community at large.

Whether it’s a one-off report or modernizing your department’s CompStat meeting, Peregrine ensures everyone in the department has complete context on the who, what, when, and why that are driving crime. It’s only with this context that the best decisions — from violence prevention strategies to resource allocation — can be made.

Get in touch and deploy Peregrine today.

About Lenny Nerbetski

Currently serving as Senior Law Enforcement Advisor, Captain Lenny Nerbetski (ret.) has approximately 29 years sworn law enforcement experience with the New Jersey State Police and the Albuquerque Police Department, primarily in investigations, intelligence and analysis. During his law enforcement career, Captain Nerbetski served for several years on the FBI Newark Joint Terrorism Task Force, as the Executive Officer of the New Jersey Regional Operations Intelligence Center and Commander of the Albuquerque Police Department Real Time Crime Center.

Better, faster
in 90 days

Better, faster
in 90 days