One way to look at a ComStat meeting is as a live audit of overall police performance, one in which the leadership’s goals sometimes borders on the unreasonable because that’s the only way to ensure at least reasonable results. But before that, a ComStat meeting is a way of sharing crime data that recognizes why the first step to crime reduction itself- the gathering and analyzing of accurate, timely intelligence- has to be quickened by the heat of accountability.
The reason is simple: Most people in the world learn things faster when they know they’re going to be tested on them. Cops are no different. If we had been satisfied to just sit in a circle and chat about the intelligence we all had (which is the way some departments run their knock-off versions of Comstat), a lot of cases in New York would never have been solved and a lot of more people would have been victimized….
When the process started, kids in the suburbs were doing their homework on Pentium machines, but Yohe was punching in crime data from all seventy-six precincts and writing his own code for a simple spreadsheet into a borrowed 386. When we started moving from hand maps to computerized mapping, Yohe quickly found out even the best mapping software around couldn’t plot multiple crimes at any single address. Here we relied on Yohe’s creative ability, because he was able to devise a way to get around the software’s logic and make out hot spots look like real hot spots...
In New York City, we were eventually able to establish drug motive in about 25 percent of all the city’s murders, but we knew that a lot of other people were being gunned down in street disputes in which the drug connection was never firmly established. In the end, the consensus was that, at the very least, 40 percent of the city’s homicides were by-products of the drug trade.
-The Crime Fighter: How You Can Make Your Community Crime Free
by Jack Maple , Chris Mitchell