It all started in New York City where it's called
Compstat.  The Compstat paradigm has spread like
a virus, and it's now known by various names.  In
Baltimore, where I became intimately familiar with
this new and spectacular way of substituting
confusion for accountability, it's called
Comstat.  No
matter what the name, the basics are the same.

In Baltimore, a Comstat Room was constructed
replete with overhead projectors for displaying what
often appears to be impressive visual
presentations.  A large spotlighted podium stands
in one corner of the room facing a huge L shaped
table where the police commissioner and command
staff sit for the inquisition.  Behind the table are
several rows of chairs for spectators, guests, or
VIP's.  The technological nerve center is enclosed in
sound proof glass behind the peanut gallery where
technicians coordinate the visual aids with the
subjects being discussed.

As a new police officer, you won't be intimately
familiar with the process, because someone has to
do police work.  If you do join a department that
has firmly embraced this paradigm, you'll find
yourself working in a pretty chaotic working
environment.   Since your immediate supervisors
will be distracted, and frequently consumed, with
preparation for the next Police-STAT, they won't
have much time to concentrate on the day to day
functions of supervision and management. Since
these shows take place once a week, or even more
frequently, you'll be getting new directions after
every episode.

Episode is an accurate description of these
meetings; although, some might even find sitcom
as a better descriptor.  Well, I suppose you know
by now that I think the whole process is a
monumental waste of time.  In the beginning, it was
conceived as a method to identify those
commanders who were not performing.   
Intimidation of a commander in front of his or her
peers, and anyone else in attendance, was meant to
either shake that commander into compliance or
cause his or her replacement.

It's all theater.  Look…in nearly every police
department in the country, high ranking
commanders are appointed by, and serve at the
pleasure of, the police chief.  So, whose fault is it if
a commander isn't doing his or her job?

While Baltimore would be described as a large police
department, it's small compared to New York
City…every police department is small compared to
New York City.  At any rate, it became apparent
early on to the inquisitors that there just weren't
enough commanders (Majors) to keep the show on
the road.  It became necessary to include
lieutenants and, ultimately, sergeants in the cast of
characters to be questioned and intimidated.
Many police departments across the nation are
falling all over themselves touting a new way of
doing things which most claim to be the ultimate
means for combating crime and ensuring
Think of a Police-STAT as a press conference.  Both
sides spend a lot of time preparing for the press
conference.  A lot of questions are asked and
answered; everybody gets his or her fifteen minutes
of fame, or humiliation, and, in the end…nothing
Here's the biggest problem with using intimidation
as a tool in any endeavor…you better know what
you're talking about.  As a police officer, you're
going to use intimidation all the time.  Intimidation
can be as subtle as the uniform you wear, but most
often what you say will be your most often used
overt form of intimidation.  If you threaten a person
with arrest, you'd better have a lawful reason to
arrest that person.  If you do and you don't, you're
going to have problems.  If a person calls your
bluff, and you have to back off, then you become
the one who is intimidated.

This total waste of time, energy, and resources will
have more negative effects in a larger police
department than it will in a small agency.  In the
smaller departments, where just about everybody
has personal relationships on some level with one
another, the intimidating nature of the process
rapidly wears thin.  Because of the unavailability of
fresh meat to intimidate, things can get back to
normal sooner than later.
In Baltimore, where I became intimately
familiar with this new and spectacular way of
substituting confusion for accountability, it's
called Comstat.
 ~  Barry M. Baker
Copyright © 2019  Barry M. Baker