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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Say Hello To My Little Friend: S.F., Meet CompStat

Posted By on Wed, Oct 21, 2009 at 6:12 PM

click to enlarge Can the SFPD saved by the miracle of computers?
  • Can the SFPD saved by the miracle of computers?
Wednesday morning, at the unveiling of the city's new crimefighting tool, CompStat, San Francisco Police Chief George Gascon had the city say hello to his not-so-little friend and implementer, LAPD detective Jeff Godown.

Gascon intends to bring Godown onto his command staff to run CompStat, a part-management plan, part data-keeping system that will purportedly help the SFPD spot crime trends. Once a month, the 10 district station captains will report to Gascon and Godown and be held accountable for recognizing and understanding fluctuations in crimes reported, arrests, and instances of officers using force.

Compstat, while widely viewed as an effective law enforcement tool, has also been criticized for incentivizing the underreporting of crime. Police union members in both New York City and in Miami have been vocal about this, and Gascon and Godown are aware of the problem.

"Don't try to BS me," Gascon told the captains straight away.

"If [police officers] fail to take a report because they're getting pressure from the commanding officers, they're fools," Godown said. Although Godown admitted he can't follow around every patrol officer to make sure reports are being taken properly, he runs audits of CompStat in L.A. that expose irregular drop-offs in crime, he said.

Gascon made it seem that Godown was already on board, but the detective said to check back in a week on his employment status. During the meeting, Godown asked questions of all five captains who gave their reports, and helped explain to the packed conference room exactly how CompStat was going to work.  

The pressure, he said, would mainly fall on the commanding officers. "It is your job to solve the problems," he said. "Move your resources around effectively. Don't violate department policy. Don't violate the law. ...You're going to come back once a month and tell us what you're doing."   

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Ashley Harrell


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