Since its inception in New York City in 1994, CompStat — short for comparative or computer statistics — has gained considerable recognition for its role in knowledge-based law enforcement. Used by police departments across the country, CompStat enables police and residents alike to see where crime is happening and respond accordingly.
Yet, according to Robert Fund, product manager at Knowledge Computing Corp. in Tucson, Arizona, and a retired 30-year veteran of the Tucson Police Department, traditional CompStat solutions are costly. That's because they have been internally developed and are thus highly customized. As a result, data analysis is a manual process which demands multiple staff members and can take anywhere from days to months.
Enter Knowledge Computing's COPLINK CompStat Analyzer, a solution that automates data analysis processes from compilation and comparison to visualization and real-time analysis. This capability has made the new product key to the recently rolled out Southern California Gang Emergency Operations Center (GEOC), an initiative that will pull together resources from many disparate criminal justice and community groups in the region.Plug and play statistics
CompStat Analyzer uses numbers from an agency's existing databases, which underlie the COPLINK technology. "COPLINK solutions, including CompStat Analyzer, use any underlying data source an agency elects to map and migrate for search capability," Fund explains. "Typically an agency will map an RMS (records management system), JMS (jail management system, including mugs), citations, auto accidents and the like, which all refresh based on a pre-determined refresh time mechanism — anywhere from once a week to every few seconds."
That enables query results to be returned in mere seconds — and to be parsed into geographic and other visual display forms. Moreover, the data collection phase itself is automated and ongoing. So, says, Fund, "Each time a user asks to analyze a given period of time, he is presented with data from the most current to the most historical."
These capabilities will be critical to the GEOC, a knowledge-based policing project that will connect law enforcement and justice groups with local government, social services, educational institutions, and community and faith-based organizations. (Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca, mutual aid coordinator for emergencies in Los Angeles and Orange counties, modeled the GEOC on disaster response.)
Not only will the GEOC have access to what Los Angeles County spokesperson Lt. Chris Cahhal calls "traditional information" — RMS, CAD (computer aided dispatch) and citations — it also will be able to access parole and probation, Section 8 housing and other data. "In the near future, analysts and deputies countywide will have access to a number of non-traditional databases," Cahhal says. "These databases include information on demographics, education, economics, employment and housing."
Why such a broad spectrum? "In evaluating a problem, it is important to get all the facts prior to determining a course of action," Cahhal explains. "For example, should we find that crime has a nexus to probationers, then it would be best to work with the probation department in enforcement actions." The additional database resources will also help its human services side "get the big picture, formulate a game plan and deploy resources based on the facts presented."
COPLINK users had asked the company to develop a tool that would help them improve community-oriented policing effectiveness. To that end, says Fund, "CompStat allows an agency to determine where and when the most need for increased police presence exists." That means that unlike the other COPLINK solutions, CompStat Analyzer is not tactical. "It's designed to give the user a strategic view of what has happened historically within their operational environment," says Fund. "CompStat looks at aggregate data — the big picture — to see overall trends."