How the COMPSTAT data system helped then hurt the people of New York City

COMPSTAT, which is short for COMPare STATistic, was created by Jack Maple in the early ’90s when he was a New York City transit cop. It became the most successful crime-fighting system, helping to reduce crime in New York City (results questioned by others).

However, the program slowed transitioned from crime fighting tool to management tool. The love of analytics and desire to show positive results led to data manipulation and miscoding of actual crimes, and ultimately to discrimination and racial profiling.

This is a great 2-part podcast that shows how this program turned into something completely different that was difficult to change.

Note: Nowhere was Six Sigma mentioned in this article, but this story is a dire warning that we all need to be aware of in any system we establish or setup. Without the right focus on the goal of the program or the purpose behind the data, it can quickly lead to the wrong behaviors and unintended consequences.

Part 1:

Part 2: