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Compstat and Organizational Change in the Lowell Police Department

Publication Date

December 2003


James J. Willis, Stephen D. Mastrofski, David Weisburd, and Rosann Greenspan


To date, there has been little analysis of Compstat and its implementation in smaller departments. This report is an in-depth evaluation of how Compstat works in a much smaller agency, the Lowell Police Department. The three goals of this report are to provide a detailed description of Lowell’s Compstat program, to explain the benefits and challenges of implementing the various key elements of Compstat, and to use knowledge of Lowell to provide insight into Compstat’s future in law enforcement. To collect their data, the researchers observed 8 biweekly Compstat meetings and 7 weekly operations meetings in Lowell. They conducted 31 interviews with city and police department personnel, and 6 post-Compstat debriefings. The team distributed surveys to patrol officers asking them to describe their views of and involvement in Compstat, and collected documents to further their understanding of Compstat. To analyze the data collected, the team compared Lowell’s Compstat program with programs in other departments, analyzed qualitative data to determine the extent to which each of Compstat’s key components had been institutionalized throughout the organization, and examined the challenges the department faced. Findings include an increase in the role that crime analysis plays in police operations, decision makers’ increased familiarity with the use of data, increased accountability from captains for identifying and responding to crime problems, and the department’s stronger sense of their mission. However, uneven implementation has placed greater stress on some elements of Compstat and left other elements underdeveloped.

Research Design


Research Methods

Case study, Interviews, Observation / Participant observation, Surveys

Recommended Citation

Willis, J. J., Mastrofski, S. D., Weisburd, D., & Greenspan, R. (2003). Compstat and organizational change in the Lowell Police Department: Challenges and opportunities. National Policing Institute. https://www.policinginstitute.org/publication/compstat-and-organizational-change-in-the-lowell-police-department/