The San Francisco Police Department’s implementation of new Chief George Gascon’s statistical police accountability program is “going good” but has been held back by aging computer systems that can’t keep track of data, the commander in charge of the program said today.
CompStat, begun by former New York City and Los Angeles police Chief William Bratton, is designed to hold police captains accountable by tracking police reports and publicly calling the captains to task for dramatic rises in crime in their neighborhoods.
The program has been implemented at police departments throughout the country. Gascon, who worked under Bratton in Los Angeles, implemented CompStat as police chief in Mesa, Ariz., and now in San Francisco.
“We have severe data integrity issues in this department that we’re going to have to iron out,” Cmdr. Jeff Godown, who Gascon brought in from Los Angeles, told the captains at today’s CompStat meeting at the Scottish Rite Auditorium in the Sunset District. The meetings are held every two weeks and are open to the public.
Godown said the department has Internet technology people “working feverishly” to fix some of the issues.
But despite the technological impediments, Godown insisted, “CompStat’s going good.”
Several of the police captains today reported crime overall to be down in their districts.
Though Godown credited Park Station Capt. Teresa Barrett for an apparent decrease in crime in her neighborhoods, he admitted concern over the accuracy of statistics.
“I’m not sure how good those numbers actually are,” he said.
He later told reporters that the department’s mainframe computer system, which retrieves all the data from police reports, is too old.
Additionally, some crimes are not being reported correctly by officers, Godown said, and promised retraining efforts.
The problems contribute to overall deficiencies in how police data is collected and managed, Godown said.
“If the data is not correct, I’ve got nothing to work with,” he said.
“We need timely data, and we need reliable data, to make this work,” PoliceCommissioner David Onek, who was also in attendance, agreed.
Onek added that he has been impressed with the level of openness and detail in the CompStat meetings.
Godown said that solutions to the department’s aging computer infrastructure will take time. He said individual district stations may have to continue to hand-tally crime statistics for now.
“We don’t have an unlimited bag of money that’s going to help us fix this problem,” he said.
Another project of Gascon, decentralizing the department by deploying many inspectors out to the individual district stations, drew positive reactions from the district captains and other staff.
“Decentralization is working great,” Richmond Station Capt. Richard Correia said.
A Richmond District lieutenant noted that his district’s crime reports have been more accurate having inspectors on scene to work with responding officers from the station.