Joe Lhota

In the early nineties, New York City was said to be ungovernable, out of control, and crime ridden beyond reversal. Tourists no longer felt safe visiting the Big Apple, city residents were constantly looking over their shoulders, and leaders in government had let everyone down by not attacking the crime problem. In 1993, there were almost 2,000 murders, and each week more than 11,000 major crimes were committed.

When Rudy Giuliani became Mayor of New York City in 1994, he helped refocus the NYPD's efforts by launching a revolutionary program named CompStat that helped make New York City the safest large city in the United States. Mayor Giuliani and his Administration proposed attacking crime by not just arresting criminals, but also by making the NYPD accountable for crime levels in every precinct using performance-based measures.

CompStat employed four main crime-fighting principles: timely and accurate gathering of information; effective solutions for problems; efficient deployment of police personnel; and constant assessment and reassessment. CompStat was not just an analytical tool – it was a new way to think about crime.

Using computer-generated maps that helped police identify crime hotspots, CompStat provided near-instantaneous data in an easy to understand format. Instead of having to wait days, weeks or even months for the latest crime statistics, the NYPD could almost immediately recognize where crime was increasing or decreasing, so the appropriate levels of personnel and resources could be assigned to every neighborhood. By spotting trends in the data, the NYPD was able to go on the offense against crime and be proactive, instead of merely reactive.

While CompStat could accurately portray crime trends, it was up to the fine men and women of the NYPD to implement new policies and tactics to best use the data CompStat provided. In an effort to eliminate communication failures and duplicated responsibilities, Mayor Giuliani fought for the merger of the NYPD, Transit Police and the Housing police, which not only streamlined the police forces but made for a more professional force.

CompStat gathered information nearly immediately, thereby ensuring efficient and effective police deployment. CompStat is emblematic of the Rudy Giuliani approach to problems. First you need to recognize the problem, gather all of the information, and then find the most effective way to combat the problem. This approach forced the NYPD to think of new and creative ways to attack New York City's crime problem.

Joe Lhota

Joe Lhota served as New York City’s deputy mayor for operations (1998 - 2001) and budget director (1995 – 1999) during the administration of Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

Be the first to read Joe Lhota’s column.
Sign up today and receive delivered each morning to your inbox.
Sign up today