Maps for the Captains

By Elizabeth Bennett  |  Posted 2006-02-07 Print this article Print

Serious crime is down in the nation's second-largest city. A big reason for the drop: LAPD's use of an analytics system to tailor its enforcement strategies.

Maps for the Captains

Although Compstat is credited with reducing crime and improving information sharing across the LAPD, the system has its limitations, Godown says. Currently, police captains don't have the tools to map crimes at their personal computers.

But that should change by the end of April, when a crime mapping program developed by Redlands, Calif.-based mapping-software maker ESRI will be available on the LAPD's secure intranet. The software, called the Crime Analysis Mapping System, costs approximately $500,000 to develop and will allow for more timely crime analysis, Godown says. For example, the officer in charge, known as the area watch commander, can find out where and when robberies are occurring and reallocate patrol cars according to the patterns shown on a map.

The deployment of what Bratton calls a real-time crime analysis program is also on the docket for 2006. Officers about to approach a crime scene will be able to call into a 24-hour crime call center to get detailed information about the location they're responding to, such as whether the address has any history of violent crimes or if the inhabitants have criminal histories.

While Compstat is a statistics-driven program, and Bratton himself pores over comparative crime reports each morning, the chief

emphasizes the importance of leadership when it comes to reducing crime—particularly because crime varies so much across the city's 465 square miles. Gang-related violence might be a problem in East L.A., while property crime plagues the Valley.

"The idea is to inspire the creativity of the captains by empowering them with some degree of autonomy to assign their resources and address local priorities," Bratton says. "They all have crime problems, but the nature of crime differs from area to area."

Senior Writer
Elizabeth has been writing and reporting at Baselinesince its inaugural issue. Most recently, Liz helped Fortune 500 companies with their online strategies as a customer experience analyst at Creative Good. Prior to that, she worked in the organization practice at McKinsey & Co. She holds a B.A. from Vassar College.

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