Fighting crime in Denver starts with numbers.
Monday mornings at police headquarters begin with a review of the past week's crime statistics - every robbery, burglary, assault and car break-in.
Over the next few days, civilian crime analysts and sworn officers mix desktop analysis with detective work. Every Thursday, the brass and top cops from each of the city's six police districts meet to chew over the findings.
The idea is to analyze as many statistics as quickly as possible to spot crime patterns and common traits. The meetings also include a big dose of accountability. The city's district commanders undergo a kind of stand-up oral exam, quizzed by their bosses and peers about what's working and what isn't.
The effort, called Command Operations Review and Evaluation, CORE for short, is one of the biggest changes in Denver policing in many years. It also may be one reason overall crime in Denver was down by 11.2 percent in the first 11 months of 2007 compared with the same period the year before.
A survey of some larger law enforcement agencies found that similar strategies are used by police in Colorado Springs, Aurora and the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office.
"CORE keeps the focus on the issues that are the most pressing, even if they're the most difficult to solve," said Jeremy Bronson, the mayor's liaison to the police who has helped shepherd the program in Denver.
The concept has its roots in New York City, where former Police Commissioner William Bratton installed a similar process called CompStat (computer crime statistics) more than 10 years ago.
While CompStat-style policing may contribute to a drop in crime, it's not a cure-all. Community cooperation and other law enforcement programs are also key.
"It can help a great deal," Fred Siegel, a contributing editor for the urban affairs publication, City Journal, said of CompStat. "But there is no silver bullet."
Denver Police Chief Gerry Whitman, who sat in the center of the room during one recent CORE meeting, notes that a number of factors such as the economy affect crime. And he also credits patrol officers with the reduction.
But Whitman said CORE helps commanders, who juggle personnel and other tasks, to focus on the central purpose of law enforcement.
"It keeps crime on the front burner," he says.
Rocky Mountain News