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An Evaluation of Compstat’s Effect on Crime: The Fort Worth Experience

NCJ Number
Police Quarterly Volume: 4 Issue: 13 Dated: 2010 Pages: 387-412
Date Published
26 pages

This study examined the effectiveness of Compstat as implemented by the Fort Worth (Texas) Police Department (FWPD). 


Compstat as a policing strategy became popular following the significant crime reduction in New York City during the 1990s. As an innovative management strategy in policing, Compstat attracted considerable attention from scholars and police practitioners. Despite its popularity, little empirical research has scientifically evaluated the effectiveness of the Compstat strategy. In addition, few studies have concentrated on Compstat strategies implemented during the 2000s outside New York City. The current evaluation of Compstat in Fort Worth used monthly time-series arrest and crime data over a multiyear period to examine whether Compstat engendered a significant increase in “broken windows” arrests (minor nuisance offenses) and, using multivariate time-series analysis, the role of the Compstat strategy in explaining changes in violent, property, and total index crimes. Findings indicate that the implementation of Compstat significantly increased some types of broken windows arrests in the FWPD; whereas, others decreased. Analysis indicates significant decreases in property and total index crime rates after controlling for rival factors but fails to show a significant change in violent crime rates. If the Fort Worth strategic approach to Compstat had to be described with a single word, it would be focusing. The Queensland study of Compstat also reported using a problem-oriented intervention model—focusing—in lieu of a broken windows approach (Mazerolle, Rombouts, & McBroom, 2007). Property crime was significantly reduced in both settings. Parallel findings from two differently constituted Compstat programs on two continents provides evidence that the primary component of the Compstat model is focusing, not broken windows enforcement, and the primary impact is on property crime. (publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 2010