Critic: Changing everything so that everything can remain the same: Compstat and american policing

David Weisburd, Stephen D. Mastrofski, James J. Willis, Rosann Greenspan

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Compstat has come to be seen as a major innovation in American policing. It has received national awards from Harvard University and former Vice President Gore, and has been featured prominently along with William Bratton (the police administrator who created the program) in the national news media. Its originators and proponents have given Compstat credit for impressive reductions in crime and improvements in neighborhood quality of life in a number of cities that have adopted the program (Silverman 1996; Remnick 1997; Gurwitt 1998; Bratton 1999). And while introduced only in 1994 in New York City, police departments around the country have begun to adopt Compstat or variations of it (Law Enforcement News 1997; Maas 1998; McDonald 1998; Weisburd, Mastrofski, McNally et al. 2003). Indeed, a Police Foundation survey suggests that Compstat had literally burst onto the American police scene. Only six years after Compstat emerged in New York City, more than a third of American police agencies with 100 or more sworn officers claimed to have implemented a Compstat-like program (Weisburd, Mastrofski, McNally, and Greenspan 2001). Drawing from a series of studies we conducted at the Police Foundation (Weisburd et al. 2001; Greenspan, Mastrofski, and Weisburd 2003; Weisburd et al. 2003; Willis, Mastrofski, Weisburd, and Greenspan 2004; Willis, Mastrofski, and Weisburd 2004a, 2004b), we will argue in this chapter that there is a wide gap between the promise of Compstat and its implementation in American policing.

Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationPolice Innovation
Subtitle of host publicationContrasting Perspectives
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9780511489334
ISBN (Print)052183628x, 9780521836289
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2006

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Cambridge University Press 2006 and Cambridge University Press, 2009.


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