COPLINK CompStat Analyzer automates crime data analysis

     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...


     Users can filter queries by time, location, crime type, time of day, day of week or month, gender, race, object (such as vehicle type), division, beat, activity, officer role, or any combination thereof. Such information can then be imported into a number of analytic tools, including graphs, charts and GIS-based maps — and analyzed in any way, including spatially and temporally. "For example, what is the city's most frequently stolen car?" says Fund. "Where and when are the most auto thefts occurring? How many auto thefts occurred in June 2008 compared to June 2007? How do auto thefts in one area compare to auto thefts in another?"

     This makes it easier for police to decide how to deploy resources. "For example, a university police department might use CompStat to map activity and determine a bike theft 'hot spot,' "explains Fund, "and in turn, dispatch additional personnel to a specific location at a specific time — the place and time the most bike thefts occur."

     Another important aspect of CompStat Analyzer is its ability to keep track of performance not only on the departmental level, but also on shift, unit, or even beat and individual levels. "CompStat creates 'institutional knowledge,' " says Fund. "In other words, a patrol officer can determine what types of crimes occur most on his beat or where a 'hot spot' would require extra patrol — knowledge that would normally take years of experience to acquire."

Making it work for users

     COPLINK products have always been modular. Its base solution is Detect; and the others, including CompStat Analyzer, run on top of that in a plug-and-play format, each independent of the other.

     While CompStat Analyzer is planned for use in the Los Angeles County's Crime Assessment Center (CAC) — an all-crimes fusion center that provides what Cahhal calls the "analytical support for the GEOC" — it is expected to also be employed in every sheriff's department station; and if technically possible, in every radio car, too. "In the past, units have relied on a manual process to pull up statistics and create pin maps," Cahhal explains. "With the automation of the CompStat module, shift managers and even deputies can view crime statistics to do their own analyses."

     Fund says the modules are so intuitive that officers need hardly any training to use them. In fact, users can "play" with the software as much as they want because the data remains at its source — the underlying database. Product demonstrations often take several hours, not because the system is hard to use, but because officers are so interested in what it can do.

A public service tool

     Because CompStat Analyzer is a stand-alone module, non-law enforcement community members can see and understand accurate, up-to-date aggregate data without access to incident details. "[This] provides leadership with a dynamic tool for public presentations on crime trends and performance while significantly reducing preparation time," says Fund. "CompStat enables agencies to provide the public with information regarding crime trends in the community."

     "Since the GEOC concept is not limited to law enforcement, the CompStat module will be used during presentations to the human services side of the GEOC," Cahhal points out. "The graphic display of crime trends will assist in conveying the extent of the crime problem to our non-law enforcement partners."

Enhanced functionality

     A strategic partnership between Knowledge Computing Corp. and ESRI now enables COPLINK modules to integrate with ArcGISServer 9.2 and 9.3. "COPLINK can directly leverage an agency's GIS investment and provide advanced mapping for criminal investigations," says Fund. "This will allow greater scalability for large clients and support more map data and image formats."

     The enhanced functionality extends to information sharing with certain external systems. "The COPLINK program has interfaces to the federal data sources OneDOJ and ICEPIC," Fund explains. "These are two-way interfaces, allowing queries from both sides. In addition, COPLINK can export and absorb information in the Global Justice XML Data Model (GJXDM), which is NIEM [National Information Exchange Model] compliant and allows our users to push data to N-DEx."

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