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CompStat helping Kingsport police take a bigger bite out of crime

BECKY CAMPBELL • Jan 24, 2007 at 11:51 AM

KINGSPORT - A new crime data tool, or more specifically a way of doing the job, at the Kingsport Police Department has energized officers and encouraged all employees to think of new ways to reduce crime.

It's called CompStat, short for computerized statistics, and it's designed to provide up-to-date information and analysis to officers on what crime is being committed and where.

"CompStat is proactive law enforcement while building a high-performance organization embracing change," said interim Police Chief Gale Osborne.

Gone are the days when an officer gets days-old information about criminal activity occurring in the area of the city they work.

"CompStat provides information and intelligence to direct police resources to the exact problem area, be it a crime hot spot or a developing crime pattern," Osborne said.

A group of 20 or so police officers representing every division of the department meet weekly to review crimes that have occurred over the past seven days.

"The essence of the CompStat process is to collect, analyze and map crime data and other essential police performance on a regular basis and hold police managers accountable for their performance as measured by this data," Osborne said.

In the meeting, these police managers toss around ideas on what tactics work and what doesn't, where their focus has been in the past week, and who they've encountered while performing their police duties.

The group also views a PowerPoint presentation on the past week's activities, statistics, arrests and crime mapping.

After the meeting, the information is passed along to all shift commanders as they start their shift, and those supervisors pass it along to patrol officers.

Basically, Osborne said, it's a different way of communicating that is providing more effective ways of dealing with crime.

"An important element of CompStat requires that all units of the police department work together. Traditionally, specialized units operated independently from other units and conducted police operations to achieve their own objectives," Osborne said.

That way of operation is gone. Vice officers tell patrol officers who to be on the lookout for, a central dispatch representative informs the group about how many calls are being answered and what the response times to those calls are, and everyone is updated on who is on the Sexual Offender Registry.

Osborne said the KPD is the only local agency currently using CompStat, but the Johnson City Police Department is working on implementing a similar program.

Other agencies in Tennessee using CompStat are Knoxville and Nashville police, he said.

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