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Q&A: Salt Lake City Deputy Chief Tim Doubt on why CompStat helps his cops solve crimes faster

The SLCPD used core components of CompStat to succeed, such as timely and accurate information, rapid deployment of resources, effective tactics and relentless follow-up


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By PoliceOne BrandFocus Staff

The CompStat Model has been in use in law enforcement since its inception in New York City more than 20 years ago. First deployed by then-Commissioner Bill Bratton of the NYPD, the model now has been adopted by numerous other cities, such as Philadelphia, San Francisco and Salt Lake City.

Salt Lake City Deputy Chief Tim Doubt provides tips on CompStat. (Salt Lake City, Utah, PD)
Salt Lake City Deputy Chief Tim Doubt provides tips on CompStat. (Salt Lake City, Utah, PD)

However, many other departments have not implemented the model — largely, it seems, due to a lack of understanding and/or appreciation for what it is and can do for an agency. PoliceOne connected with Deputy Chief of Police Tim Doubt, who implemented the CompStat Model in the Salt Lake City Police Department, to discuss his department’s experience and results.

Doubt has worked at the Salt Lake City Police Department since 1989. Promoted to Deputy Chief in 2010, he commands the Administration Bureau and the Salt Lake Information Center that includes a CompStat Unit and is responsible for criminal intelligence gathering and dissemination as well as all homeland security issues involving Salt Lake City.

Here are some of his thoughts on the model and how it has impacted SLCPD and the community they serve.

What are CompStat and Stratified Policing strategies and when did the SLCPD begin using them?

CompStat is a performance-management tool based on the goal of continuous improvement. The core components of CompStat are timely and accurate information, rapid deployment of resources, effective tactics and relentless follow-up.

These components are key to providing the framework that allows for effective crime-reduction strategies. Stratified Policing integrates a crime-reduction system into existing departmental practices and ensures the implementation of not just short-term solutions but long term ones as well.

Salt Lake City started utilizing CompStat principles in January 2015 to address rising crime rates and quality-of-life issues that seemed out of control.

Briefly explain how CompStat and Stratified Policing strategies work.

CompStat facilitates accurate and timely analysis of data in regards to crime patterns, trends and problems. There are as many ways to use CompStat principles as there are agencies using it. SLC utilizes weekly statistics compiled by analysts in combination with management philosophies of holding commanders accountable.

We hold biweekly CompStat meetings where problems are identified, strategies are planned and individual commanders are responsible for reporting on their efforts, effectiveness and results. By identifying problems, measuring results and requiring accountability, we’re able to integrate new strategies into existing practices rather than just reinforce traditional ones.

Focusing on both long- and short-term solutions and requiring the participation of all commanders and bureaus stratifies not only the workload, but also the responsibility.

What was the impetus for CompStat to be implemented at Salt Lake City Police Department?

Without an effective crime-reduction plan in place, I researched and studied the CompStat model. After following its success with multiple police departments in the U.S., including New York, Boston and Los Angeles, I implemented and led the successful execution of the CompStat model at SLCPD.

We have seen double-digit reductions in certain crimes that we have focused on during our implementation.

What has changed since CompStat and Stratified Policing were first introduced in your department?

It is common to encounter resistance on all levels when introducing change. Fundamental support of administrators and commanders is the cornerstone to securing collective cooperation towards a uniform goal. With the acquisition of support and cooperation, changes were seen within the department in regards to how crime data is analyzed and strategized.

This led to measurable results that were readily apparent on CompStat reports. Having tangible evidence to illustrate a decrease in crime due to our targeted efforts drastically improved the vision of administrators, the viewpoints of personnel and the perspective of the public.

Explain how CompStat can help departments meet crime-fighting goals.

Taking advantage of comparative statistics shown with very recent data on CompStat reports, departments are able to see problem areas in their current state rather than outdated trends or patterns that could have changed. Using contemporaneous information and data, commanders are able to deploy resources strategically and swiftly.

How can agencies lobby for budget dollars to pay for CompStat and Stratified Policing?

One of the most prevalent misconceptions about CompStat is that it is some type of technology or computer program. It is not. CompStat is a set of management principles. Sure, it may be easier to identify crime hotspots or trends with computer programs, but any agency can use the technology that they have currently to identify areas to increase strategies.

With that said, there are some excellent analytical tools on the market to make it easier for agencies to complete the accurate and timely intelligence gathering principle of CompStat. SLCPD has found that when we show our elected officials our successes and what we need to upgrade our efforts, they have been supportive.

Grants are another effective way to at least start down the path of better technology; however, we have found that we cannot purchase the maintenance contracts of the follow-on years with grant money.

How can departments evaluate the effectiveness of their Stratified Policing initiative?

Stratified Policing and CompStat work to their full potential when implemented concurrently. By utilizing the CompStat model as it was intended, departments can easily measure their results and evaluate their effectiveness by mandating relentless follow-up and clear accountability. Doing so will be distinctly illustrated in CompStat reports.

Is there anything else that would be useful to police leaders thinking about implementing this model?

I would reemphasize that CompStat is not a piece of technology. Technology can certainly help agencies identify areas to focus crime-fighting activities and collaboration. But the early models of CompStat were really just based on pin maps. CompStat is a set of management principles that can be used by an agency with no technology or one with state-of-the-art computerized programs. It is all about how the information is applied.

For more information about technologies that can assist with CompStat and intelligence-led policing strategies, contact Adventos

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