Manning (2011) - The Technology of Policing (book)

Manning, Peter K. (2011). The Technology of Policing — Crime Mapping, Information Technology, and the Rationality of Crime Control; New York: New York University Press. ISBN: 978-0-8147-6136-6. 338 pages. $26.00

Peter Manning's book is a field study of Crime Mapping (CM) Crime Analysis (CA).

It apppears slightly dated now. as the field work was conducted between 1996 and 2002.

The focus of the book is how police use (or fail to use) CM/CA technologies.

The case studies is based upon field studies of police departments in three US cites: Boston, Washington D.C., and one medium sized city he refers to as “Western”.

The idea of CM/CA began with an NYPD program named “Compstat.” “Compstat”. The program involved a twiceweekly meeting between all of NYPD’s higher ups. These meetings included a presentation of data in an attempt to examine different crime patterns. This was the first time informational technology was used and it gained widespread support. It is this program that the three case study cities modeled their own programs after.

The first case study took place “Western”. He describes it as quiet city, where neither crime nor race relations have ever been an issue. A new police chief was appointed in 1991, and introduced several CM/CA systems. However, the “capacity for problem solving and actual use remained undeveloped.” Western’s use of information technology emphasized a “here-and-now, short-term-results approach” to the way police departments operated.

The second case study took place in Washington D.C. Manning describes it as a “beautiful, violent and hot city”. The city used a system called COPSAC (Community-Oriented Problem Solving Analysis Center). The program was not successful. The aging computers that were in place, the lack of modern wiring, and the sluggish circuits slowed the process of moving to an information-based system. Overall, Manning finds that the system is “politicized and problematic.” In addition many of the officers did not buy into the new system of policing. Manning states that “there was little inclination of anyone below the management-staff level to use the information provided by the system in any systematic fashion.” (p. 162)

The third case study took place in Boston. Boston has a population of about 580,000. Manning finds that Boston was the only city with “a well-developed crime analysis process, including department-wide semipublic meeting.” In the two previous case studies, Manning illustrated how the departments tried but ultimately failed to maintain a viable CM/CA system. Boston on the other hand has had success with a system referred to as the “Boston CAMs” or crime-analysis meetings, similar to the NYPD’s “Compstat” meetings. The meetings were put in place in the hopes of completing certain objectives. These objectives included “accurate and timely information; rapid and coordinated deployment of resources to address problems; utilization of effective strategies and tactics; and relentless follow-up and assessment” (p. 180). The whole idea of these meetings is to encourage “informed decision making based on widely shared data, use of crime analysis, and innovative problem solving techniques.” (p. 180) City wide CAMs are held every 2nd and 4th Friday of the month and each is followed by a post-CAM debriefing, where Senior Command staff provides written feedback to the district that presented. The meetings create an opportunity for all of the departments to get together, identify and define problems in the area, determine the causes of the problem, how the problems been dealt with in the past, and how they will be dealt with in the future. The program facilitates successful interdepartmental communication and encourages innovative problem-solving techniques. The success of the program was not only a result of the technology used, but also of the committment of the department’s upper level management to crime analysis, and the high level of involvement of all levels in the CAMs.

Manning concludes that CM/CA systems have the potential to be effective because they provide a forum for sharing data and trying to solve problems in new and innovative ways. However, these new systems require departments to change much of the way they work. Manning has shown that in many cases, idea of change is resisted by many.