Some Favorite Sites
Government/ Community Links
Far-Flung Visitors Discover Compstat
by Thomas MacMillan | Sep 19, 2013 1:35 pm
Posted to: Legal Writes
A band of visitors from South Africa and a former police chief converged on police headquarters Thursday to check out the city’s weekly crime-solving confab. One found a hometown transformed. Another discovered similarities with his home across continents.
The visitors appeared at the weekly Compstat meeting on Thursday morning in police headquarters on Union Avenue. The crime-statistics huddle welcomed four South African cops and a top New Haven cop of yesteryear.
The former New Haven cop, 83-year-old Burton V. Gifford Sr. (pictured with a photo of himself presented to him by Chief Dean Esserman), marveled at how the department has changed since he was a rookie cop in the early 1950s. The South Africans, on the other hand, said the Compstat session was very similar to their weekly departmental meetings back home in the city of Tshwane, home to 2.9 million people.
New Haven’s approach to police has drawn international attention, including from a a delegation from Tajikistan that visited last November.
At the weekly Compstat meetings, top cops responsible for New Haven’s 10 policing districts report on the latest crime trends in their neighborhoods and plans for tackling them. The meetings are also attended by all kinds of regional partners, from the FBI and the state attorney’s office, to churches and the parks department. The meetings are a hallmark of Chief Esserman’s approach to policing; he revived the practice when he came to the job a year and a half ago.
“We’re on the shoulders of those who come before,” said Esserman, as he welcomed Gifford at the outset of the meeting. Griffon retired in 1972 as a deputy chief, a rank that no longer exists.
Esserman (at left in photo) and Gifford met by chance on Sept. 12, when they were watching Esserman’s son and Gifford’s grandson play football for Hamden Hall.
After listening to 90 minutes of crime reports from all parts of the department, as well as regional partners, Gifford addressed the meeting. In his day, he said, beat cops didn’t have radios. They walked from call box to call box, positioned every four or five blocks so that cops could call for back up or report a crime in progress.
“And you were by yourself,” Gifford said. “You fellows are lucky to have guns and radios.”
Gifford noted another significant change to the force: women. “I’m glad to see the women here get promoted,” Gifford said. “We had no women on the job.”
Gifford praised the Compstat meeting as “the greatest thing you could have done.” When he was a cop, he said, the police department didn’t work with anybody else. “We stuck to our own problems. We didn’t even deal with Yale.” Compstat provides for important communication, so that departments know what one another are doing, he said.
For the South African delegation, Compstat was quite familiar. Chief Steve Ngobeni (pictured), the head of Tshwane Metro Police, said his department holds the weekly meetings as well, in a very similar fashion. Asked about the differences, he said his meeting is on Fridays instead of Thursdays.
Ngobeni and his colleagues ended up at Thursday’s Compstat meeting as a result of attending a Police Innovation Conference in Cambridge, Mass. They met people there who connected them with the New Haven police department.
“We chose to visit this area because the way they are approaching issues is similar,” said Chief Ngobeni.
After the meeting, the four South Africans met with Esserman and assistant chiefs in a conference room, where they received a primer on the department’s command structure from Assistant Chief Thaddeus Reddish (pictured).
Chief Ngobeni’s South African police department and Deputy Chief Gifford’s New Haven department of 40 years ago share another similarity: They’re both larger than New Haven’s current force. Ngobeni has 4,400 officers. Gifford led a department of 450 cops. The current New Haven police department has 388 cops.
Post a Comment
South Africa reports of police brutality more than tripled in the last decade
Reports of police brutality in South Africa have soared by 313% in a decade, experts warn, yet only one in 100 cases against officers results in a conviction.
South African police accused of brutality and torture