NEW YORK CITYS GREATEST EXPORT: CRIMEFIGHTERS
Since the late 1990s, more than 18 police commanders have left the New York City police department to run their own agencies elsewhere. This unprecedented migration has spread the Compstat revolution - the data-driven transformation of policing begun under New York police commissioner William Bratton in 1994 - across the nation.
Some of the transplants are well-known: Bratton now heads the Los Angeles Police Department; and his former first deputy, John Timoney, has led both the Miami and the Philadelphia forces. But the diaspora also includes lesser-known young Turks who rose quickly through the NYPDs ranks during the paradigm-shattering 1990s. Now, as chiefs in their own right, theyre proving the efficacy of analytic, accountable policing in agencies wholly dissimilar from New Yorks.
Jos Cordero once led precincts in the Bronx and in Manhattans Washington Heights, and eventually he served as New Yorks first citywide gang strategist. Like other members of the diaspora, he describes the 1990s NYPD as a life-changing experience: “It was an incredibly resourceful, competitive environment. The wave of captains I was privileged to serve with fed off of each others experiments.” In 2002, he took the helm of the Newton, Massachusetts, police department, bringing crime in that already safe city down to its lowest point in over 30 years.
Then he moved to a very different city. East Orange, New Jersey, has 70,000 citizens by official counts, about 95 percent of them black, and deep pockets of poverty. Crime there began skyrocketing in 1999, reaching a per-capita rate in 2003 that was 14 times that of New York City. East Oranges mayor recruited Cordero to quell the violence; he started work in 2004.
The results were astonishing. By the end of 2007, major felonies had dropped 68 percent, and homicides 67 percent, from their 2003 high - possibly a national record. (By comparison, from 1993, the year before Bratton arrived in NYC, through 1997, major felonies in New York dropped 41 percent and homicides 60 percent.) East Oranges remarkable experience should give pause to criminologists, who too often ascribe crime drops to anything but policing reforms.
Intelligence-driven policing, as Cordero calls the Compstat principles, is now in the departments bloodstream, as is the still-iconoclastic belief that the police can actually lower crime. Compstat refers both to the weekly crime-analysis meetings that Bratton pioneered in 1994 to grill precinct leaders about crime on their watch and, more broadly, to the crime-fighting principles that underlay those meetings: relentless gathering of information, constant evaluation of tactics, and a mechanism for holding commanders accountable for public safety. East Orange commanders now focus obsessively on their mission and revel in coming up with new ways to make the city inhospitable to criminals.
The transformation of the East Orange department mirrored the one Cordero had lived through as a young NYPD captain. “All we had done up to that point was put people in jail, and it hadnt made a difference,” recalls the 52-year-old Bronx native. “The new concept was, know everything you possibly can about crime. What I took away from that period was that by challenging yourself continually to know what you dont know, you can produce big results.”
Other NYPD grads have also had a significant effect on their new cities through the application of Compstat principles, easily outstripping national crime averages.
Jane Perlov, a former NYPD deputy chief, brought violence in Raleigh, North Carolina, down 33 percent between 2001 and 2007 by breaking the city up into six police districts and making the district leaders responsible for crime on their watches. John Romero, an NYPD deputy inspector, lowered crime in Lawrence, Massachusetts, over 50 percent from 1999 to 2005 by demanding performance from his commanders and basing strategies on the most up-to-date, accurate information. Timoney, the first NYPD Compstat-era commander to take the reins of another department, reduced homicides in Philadelphia over 25 percent in two years - the first homicide decrease that violent city had seen in 15 years. And Bratton has slashed crime by 34 percent since becoming chief of the LAPD.
New York City is ringed to its north by Compstat graduates. Nearly all the major jurisdictions in Westchester County - Yonkers, White Plains, Mount Vernon, Rye, and the county itself - are now led by a crime-analysis disciple.
In some quarters, this has produced - along with crime drops - an even greater level of the usual resentment against outsiders. Cordero studied management manuals to prepare himself for shaking up the East Orange force. “Its a huge challenge, telling a deputy chief with 30 years experience: Were doing things differently now.”
Original Source: http://www.nypost.com/seven/07132008/postopinion/opedcolumnists/gotham_knights_119673.htm