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2. The power of computers, much like the Compstat program in New York City, is being harnessed to produce real-time information of value at competitive rates.
3. It may unfortunately indicate that many executives are more concerned about risk when away than while at home. The latter is disturbing, since home is where they spend most of their time and home is where a significant portion, if not most, of the organizational resources in their custody are located.
Have they been lulled into a false sense of security by the familiarity of their home surroundings? Perhaps, and if so this is unfortunate, because we have seen how the routineness and sameness of faces and names can mask a plethora of occupational fraud. Away is strange, and therefore to be feared. Home is familiar and, therefore, assumed to be safe. Those interested in committing fraud in the workplace count on this protective coloration to protect them.The executives, rightfully concerned about so many risks of which they have awareness, blissfully ignore those they have never bothered to expose, even though these unseen threats may do them and their organizations substantially more damage than foreign travel.
In thinking about home and how little most of us really know about it, Henry’s history of the Compstat program may offer some useful insights. As noted, the program was a vast improvement over the push pin system of the past, and it was also inexpensive to implement, requiring just some off-the-shelf software and a couple of personal computers. Its reports were intentionally structured to be simple and easy to digest. Police commanders are busy people and, at least at the time Compstat was introduced, not usually familiar with the more esoteric forms of statistical analysis. After a bit of experience with the program, the
NYPD learned that Compstat could provide deeper insights as well. Injuries and sick time, analyzed by precinct, could provide indications of the morale in that location and have implications for the efficacy of crime reduction efforts. The old push pin system might show that one shooting, two drug arrests, and three robberies took place near one corner in a 36-hour period. Compstat could provide additional information that might be able to link these incidents through analysis of common participants, types of weapons used, gangs involved, or other data. Finally, Compstat helped flush out a problem created innocently by a vagary of the NYPD’s measurement systems.
At the time, an incident could be cleared by an arrest. The operative word here is an. Under the old system of analysis, a robbery, for example, was one pin on the map and could represent one perpetrator or a half a dozen; however, under the system used at the time, as soon as one arrest was made in a given matter it was considered cleared. The pin was removed from the map, although there were five more bad guys out there. Some commanders in some busy precincts saw the effort to nail remaining offenders after the first arrest as wasting resources, creating even more dreaded paperwork, and consuming precious overtime that could be used on fresh offenses.4 That this worked to defeat the department’s objective of reducing crime was overshadowed by the fact that it maximized the score in a game the department had unintentionally created.
On a national basis, the experience of the FBI in the development and evolution of its Uniform Crime Reporting Program (UCRP) may be both instructive and, perhaps, a bit discouraging in this endeavor. The UCRP collects data from cities with more than 10,000 inhabitants, suburban and rural counties, colleges and universities. Some 17,000 agencies contribute data to the system, which results in the annual Crime in the United States report. A handbook is distributed to reporting agencies to try to ensure that data are uniformly collected and characterized.5 By 1968 this reporting covered 97 percent of people living in major cities, 75 percent of people living in rural areas, and 92 percent of the overall U.S. population.6
Begun in 1930, the UCRP began to undergo a significant revamping and updating in the late 1970s to better capture crime and related data, and is now in its third incarnation, the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS).7 The objectives of the NIBRS are described as follows:
An indispensable tool in the war against crime is the ability to identify with precision when and where crime takes place, what form it takes, and the characteristics of its victims and perpetrators. Armed with such information, law enforcement can better make its case to acquire the resources it needs to fight crime and, after obtaining those resources, use them in the most efficient and effective manner. NIBRS provides law enforcement with that tool because it is capable of producing more detailed, accurate, and meaningful data than those produced by the traditional UCR Program.8
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