District Attorney George Gascón says the 130 attorneys in his office lack the technology to effectively track and analyze the more than 12,000 cases they handled last year, leaving them to navigate blindly while deciding which cases to prosecute and when.
Gascón, who served as the police chief in San Francisco from August 2009 to January 2011, wants to take a system that analyzes crime data and use a version of it in his office to analyze trends in criminal cases. Such a system would be the first in the nation, Gascón said.
CompStat — which stands for comparable statistics — was first used by the New York Police Department and then replicated by other departments nationwide. Gascón, who used the system while in Los Angeles, introduced CompStat to The City while he was police chief.
The system remains a key tool for gathering intelligence on crime in San Francisco, police spokesman Officer Albie Esparza said. The software gathers and analyzes crime statistics that police use to crack down on hotspots and hold stations more accountable for their districts’ criminal activity. Though some are critical of data-driven policing, the system has been credited for crime reductions in the cities that are using it.
Gascón plans to hire a chief information officer who will begin work next year on what he called “DA-STAT,” an idea he says is currently in a conceptual phase.
“I really want to have real-time information as to where everything is, because that’s how you start identifying areas where you can go in quickly and fix things, Gascón said.
Gascón believes using CompStat at a prosecution level — which he says has never been done before — will allow for a broader perspective on how criminal cases are handled.
As an example, Gascón pointed to the homicide case backlog that was recently cleared by his office. As The San Francisco Examiner reported Sunday, Gascón pushed prosecutors to resolve 17 aging cases that were becoming costly and causing prolonged heartache for the loved ones of victims. A little more than a year later, all but three of the cases have been resolved with lengthy prison sentences.
The cases weren’t being addressed in a timely manner, Gascón said, because prosecutors weren’t able to take a step back from their day-to-day operations and see that there was a problem.
With more data, “we will hopefully start informing our charging decisions,” he said.