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Measuring Performance in a Modern Police Organization

NCJ Number
Date Published
March 2015
40 pages

After reviewing and critiquing some of the traditional measures of police performance that focus on lowering the number of reported crimes, this paper promotes the features of a broader framework for measuring police performance in a risk-control or harm-reduction setting.


The overall message of this paper is that police executives need a more sophisticated understanding of how to use different types of information in understanding the condition of their organizations and what is happening in the communities they serve. The recommended broader framework for measuring and reporting police performance pertains to the mission of a police agency, the dimensions of police performance, and a clear understanding of the metrics that capture the multidimensional features of police work. Regarding the latter aspect of data collection related to police performance, this paper examines integrity issues related to CompStat and crime reporting by the New York City Police Department and the implications for CompStat-like systems. The author presents a tool for diagnosing whether and in which ways an existing CompStat implementation might be too narrow a measure of police performance, and opportunities are discussed for developing more sophisticated concepts of police performance and more nuanced organizational responses to a broader range of issues across the six dimensions presented. Primary reference sources are cited for a fuller discussion of each dimension of the recommended broader framework for conceiving and measuring the performance of a police agency. 105 resource citations

Date Published: March 1, 2015