Center for Justice Leadership and Management
George Mason University

Police Organization Reform in the Twenty-First Century: The Relationship Between Compstat and Community Policing

With funding from the Department of Justice’s Office of Community-Oriented Policing Services, this project explores the relationship between two highly touted police reforms.  Compstat is a strategic management system focused on reducing serious crime by decentralizing decision-making to middle managers operating out of districts, by holding these managers accountable for performance, and by increasing the organization’s capacity to respond to crime problems.  Community policing  expands the police mandate to include disorder and can be defined by an organizational strategy that includes community partnerships, problem solving, and delegating decision-making authority to sergeants and patrol officers.  There is virtually no systematic research on how these reforms work together when implemented in the same police organization and whether they could be more fully integrated.

 Using a national survey of large police departments and fieldwork data from site visits to seven police agencies, a research team of two faculty members (Willis and Mastrofski) and a recently-graduated JLCP doctoral student (Kochel) addressed this issue.  Our principal finding that these reforms operated largely independently – each having little effect on the other – was the basis for a set of recommendations for their integration.  A major purpose of our research, including these proposals, is to challenge policy-makers, practitioners, and scholars to reconsider the current relationship between Compstat and community policing and conceive of more innovative approaches to their co-implementation.

 Read more about this project at http://patriotentrepreneur.gmu.edu/issues/july_2007/compstat.html.

Recent and forthcoming publications include:

Mastrofski, Stephen D., James J.Willis, and Tammy Rinehart Kochel.  2007.  “The Challenges of Implementing Community Policing in the United States.” Policing: A Journal of Policy and Practice: 1: 223-34.  doi:10.1093/police/pam026

Willis, James J., Stephen D. Mastrofski, and Tammy Rinehart Kochel.  In press.  “Recommendations for Integrating Compstat and Community Policing.” Policing: A Journal of Policy and Practice.

Willis, James J., Tammy Rinehart Kochel, and Stephen D. Mastrofski.  Forth.  Compstat and Community Policing: Taking Advantages of Compatibilities and Dealing with Conflicts.  Final report.  Washington D.C.: Office of Community-Oriented Policing Services.

Other award-winning research by CJLM faculty on this topic  (2008 Law and Society Article Prize):

Willis, James J., Stephen D. Mastrofski, and David Weisburd.   2007.  Making Sense of Compstat:  A Theory-based Analysis of Organizational Change in Three Police Departments.  Law & Society Review 41:147-188.

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