From the common operating picture of the modern battlefield to food service program inventories, the use of data to drive activities is fairly commonplace among most organizations these days. It stands to reason then that the more accurate data that’s available, the more productive a unit can be.
Fort Leonard Wood’s Directorate of Emergency Services uses data to produce more intelligent policing and minimize crime in the community.
According to James Stewart, Fort Leonard Wood chief of police, information is gathered and examined using the policing methodology known as CompStat — short for Compare Statistics.
Anomalies in crime are identified using comparative statistics, which then allows the DES a more efficient way to target law enforcement to specific needs.
“CompStat is getting in there, pulling out the data, analyzing it,” Stewart said, “but really it’s intelligence-led policing. You can’t get to the left of a problem if you don’t know that you have a problem.”
Data concerning everything from shoplifting and speeding, all the way to kidnapping and assault, is collected and looked at in a timely manner so as to better develop and execute plans of action, Stewart said.
In addition, that data is cross-referenced with similar reports from other Army installations across Installation Management Command and a quarterly conference call is held.
“We see their data, we hear what they’re doing,” Stewart said. “A lot of times if I’m reporting something’s an issue, (IMCOM will) pause us and ask another installation if they’re having the same thing. It’s pretty much guaranteed that if I have an issue
with shoplifting on the installation, Fort Benning, Fort Jackson, they probably are having the same issues.”
With this gathering of data from multiple installations, Stewart added that best practices can be built.
“If I’m having a challenge, someone else may have the same issues,” he said. “I’m able to sit in and hear what they’ve got going on and use their ideas to help us here.”
Although the IMCOM briefing is just once a quarter, Stewart said that data is gathered and tracked daily.
“We’re not waiting for the next CompStat brief to get here to figure out what our problems are,” he said. “We’re looking at it every day.”
The idea of bringing together multiple law enforcement agencies to pool ideas comes out of 1970s New York City. CompStat was the name of the original computer program used to transfer what was originally done with printed maps and push pins. The concept of relentless assessment of data to find what works and what doesn’t was part of the initial philosophy.
“We will be relentless until New York is in fact the safest city in America,” said Jack Maple, the New York City deputy police commissioner for crime control strategies who created the CompStat methodology of crime fighting and law enforcement strategy.
Invited to the briefing every quarter are the DES director and deputy director, the provost marshal sergeant major, the chief of police, the deputy chief of police, and all law enforcement section heads — to include the traffic section, military police desk, patrols and conservation.
“The reason they’re in there is to not only answer questions, but to (use) that information,” Stewart said. “The officers have to know what the problem is, where are the problem areas, where they need to be. ‘I have this entire installation but where do I need to be, what days do I need to be there. If I’m there at the wrong time I’m wasting my time.’ You need to know where and when to be there to affect change.”
For Christian Marsh, a supervisory DES traffic management and collision investigations officer, CompStat helps him better police the post.
“I have very limited resources and personnel,” Marsh said. “CompStat assists me in identifying areas where resources such as message boards and speed trailers should be placed, while allowing military police to remain available for calls for service and focused enforcement in areas of concern.”
Stewart added that the flexible use of data is a key to the success of any law enforcement organization.
“CompStat allows us to say what crimes we have reduced by our action plans, by trying to prevent it,” Stewart said. “It also shows areas where enough hasn’t been done, where we need to go back to the drawing board and engage again.”