and analyzed in three separate time periods -- weekly, monthly and yearly -- and compared to data from similar time periods during the previous year. "So you have three separate snapshots of how that precinct is doing," said McCarthy. The department also makes a two-year evaluation and a nine-year snapshot, dating back to when the program started.

"We measure basically on a day-to-day basis because we compare this period against the same period last year, and that's how we evaluate the program," said McCarthy.

From there, an information book is generated for each precinct. The statistics are also used to generate a profile of commanding officers and assess their performance.

"We'll put together profiles of the narcotics commanding officer, the detective commanding officer, the precinct commanding officer and an assessment of each one of their units," McCarthy said.

The Commander Profile Reports scrutinize the commander's performance on a variety of management variables. The profiles include the commander's appointment date, years in rank, education and specialized training he or she received. Each profile contains non-crime statistics such as the amount of overtime generated by members of his command, the number of department vehicle accidents, absence rates and the number of civilian complaints.

The assessments contain information gathered and mapped electronically with MapInfo software. Each map overlaps another to form layers of statistical information that project, as a collection of dots, a plethora of crimes or behavior patterns. Those can then be projected on large video projection screens. A host of charts, tables and graphs are commonly displayed simultaneously. The commanding officers will have an opportunity to address any patterns of behavior or crime trends in their vicinity and explain what solutions are at hand.

A dense pattern of dots, or hot spots, on a map suggests a spree of criminal activity and means somebody is going to be held accountable. Crimes here are now seen as part of a pattern that can be interrupted with good police work.

"There's going to be a causal relationship in a lot of the information," McCarthy said. "You get people standing around on the street drinking beer, the next thing you know they get into a fight, somebody gets assaulted and hurt. If we would have taken the action of making the arrests for public consumption of alcohol, we may have prevented that assault.

"All of that stuff is intertwined. If stolen cars are up, that's because we're not stopping enough cars and catching people in a stolen car."

But there's more to Compstat than catching people driving stolen cars. It's part of a philosophy that evaluating the performance of a police department entails more than just putting bad guys in jail. Factors such as how the community views the department and the financial costs of fighting crimes are also measurements of success.

And the vast array of computerized statistics garnered by the program provides the department with the tools to measure the success of the enterprise. The ever-evolving program has been well received -- it's being duplicated in Baltimore and has been copied by other New York City agencies, including the Sanitation and Correction departments.

McCarthy compared the evolution of the program to that of a prospering business. "Realize that any successful business is constantly reorganizing and Compstat is the mechanism that we use to help us reorganize."

Jim McKay, Justice and Public Safety Editor  |  Justice and Public Safety Editor