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February 8th, 2010


While it’s a surprise to no one, it’s good that the subject of the CompStat numbers has finally come up and is being aired publicly.


I know that some people are like, “so what else is new,” and they don’t believe this is a big deal since crime is, in fact, genuinely down.  But it is important, especially outside Manhattan, where the numbers are the most inaccurate.  Inaccurate numbers result in an inadequate response.

Another very important thing to look at are the figures for cleared cases.  Cases are cleared, or closed, when an arrest has been made.  If the person who was arrested is later cleared, the NYPD doesn’t go back and “unclear” the case.  The case may be re-opened depending on the amount of media attention, but just as often as not, it will remain closed or dormant.  So the numbers the NYPD provides for cleared or solved cases is also not entirely accurate.  (I should point out that I’m speaking about homicide cases here.  That is the crime I researched.  What I say might be true for all crime cases investigated by the NYPD, but I can’t say that with authority.)

Perhaps what is also not a surprise is that pressure from without and within mixed with poor judgment and the culture of the NYPD created such a situation.  But CompStat is an enormously useful tool and these are fixable problems.  Bottom line, this is a good thing.  While I can just imagine what’s going on behind the scenes at the NYPD right now, this attention is good and will lead to improvement. There’s a lot of people doing a great job, and accurate information can only help them do even better.

Anyone following this subject is probably well aware of these articles, but here are links to some of the recent articles about the veracity of the CompStat numbers.

From The New York Times:

Retired Officers Raise Questions on Crime Data

Former Commander Recalls Pressure to Alter Reports

Forget Police Data; New Yorkers Rely on Own Eyes

From The Daily News:

Brooklyn’s 81st Precinct probed by NYPD for fudging stats

Report of fudged crime stats from Brooklyn’s 81st Precinct deserves hearing, Councilman Vallone says

Leonard Levitt’s comments on NYPD Confidential.Com are well worth reading.

(The picture above was taken at the Property Clerk Warehouse, and those barrels contain crime scene evidence.)

→ 2 CommentsTags: Crime Science · Homicide Facts ·

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 denis o 'sullivan // Jul 14, 2012 at 12:56 pm

    i recently learned that M.S.H. Dets/ are assigned to investigate Grand Larcenies from high end stores,what a disgrace with all the unsolved murders they should be working on.When i was in M.N.H.Sqd. we always pulled old cases and worked them.

  • 2 Stacy Horn // Jul 14, 2012 at 2:00 pm

    That’s good to hear, though, that detectives at least for a time, went back through old cases/

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