Compstat is a crime-tracking statistical system that allows officers to target areas in New York City where crime is taking place. According to NBC News, the system relies on the assumption that by stopping small crimes, officers can prevent bigger ones from happening. Yet, even as the system has been heralded for lowering New York City’s murder rate from 1,946 murders in 1993 to 352 last year, the system raises concerns about police violence in targeted areas.

Police officer placing a drunk driver under arrest.
Police officer placing a drunk driver under arrest.

If you’ve been charged with a crime in New York City, it is important to understand your rights. For instance, an officer must show legal grounds for arresting you. If you’re facing charges, a criminal defense attorney may be able to assist you.

The New York Times recently reported on a police shooting that took place in Brooklyn. The shooting was eventually attributed to a series of accidental events. The man who was shot was forced to take a stairwell because the elevator was broken in his building. The stairwell had no working lights. A rookie officer, upon hearing the man in the stairwell, fired shots which grazed off the walls and randomly struck the man in the heart.

Yet, the New York Times raises some interesting questions surrounding the shooting. While the officer in the case was charged with negligent homicide, the Times took a look at the circumstances of poverty and the state of public housing in the city that allowed the shooting to happen in the first place. Public buildings are more likely to have problems, like broken elevators and burned out lights. Furthermore, public buildings are more likely to be patrolled by police who may be concerned about past reports of crime or violence.

While Compstat is praised for reducing crime rates, its unintended consequences may be increased tension between officers patrolling poorer communities. Given the recent attention on police violence, the city will have to address the circumstances that lead to this violence. Currently, police are permitted to perform “vertical patrols” in housing project stairwells, a practice that would be unheard of in a private building without probable cause. Some are calling for an end to these patrols that may or may not be based on reasonable suspicion of a crime.

Currently, New York police employ zero tolerance policies with regards to crime. However, some argue that New York City government officials should take a closer look at public housing situations that lead to tensions, anxiety, and fear.

While Compstat raises accountability in stopping crimes in each precinct, there need to be checks and balances to improve relations with the communities that officers serve.

If you’ve been charged with a crime in New York City, you have a range of legal rights and protections. You are innocent until proven guilty and have the right to speak to a criminal defense lawyer. If you are facing questioning, a defense attorney may be able to assist you. Contact the Spodek Law Group, P.C. today. Our firm offers its clients the personalized attention they need in order to protect their rights.