In what would seem to be something already being done, Heather Mac Donald reports that, rather, it is still new, but works remarkably well, in her article in City Journal.
San Francisco’s district attorney can attest to the relative backwardness of prosecution. George Gascon ran the Los Angeles Police Department’s Compstat program in the 2000s before eventually becoming San Francisco’s D.A. “I knew when I was coming in to prosecution that there would not be the level of information that the police have,” he says. “But I didn’t know how little information there was available to me; it was shocking. The other side of the law enforcement house is nowhere near where policing is today; it is still stuck in the culture of one case at a time, one set of facts, without a lot of ability to link the dots.”
Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance aimed to upend that reactive mind-set when he took office in 2010. The D.A.’s mission was henceforth to lower violent crime, he declared, embracing the Compstat ideal. Vance then created a new entity called the Crime Strategies Unit, the sole purpose of which is to gather and deploy intelligence on Manhattan’s crime patterns and serious offenders. The unit’s five senior assistant district attorneys, assigned to one of five geographical areas in Manhattan, no longer prosecute cases but instead learn everything they can about who is driving crime in their jurisdiction. Based on daily communication with local police commanders and precinct field-intelligence officers, the Crime Strategies Unit has compiled a database of Manhattan’s most significant criminal players and other persons of interest (such as elusive or uncooperative witnesses). If any of those individuals—now numbering about 9,000—gets arrested anywhere in the city, one of the five senior CSU attorneys is immediately alerted, day or night. The attorney will then contact the local D.A. assigned to the case—whether in Manhattan or another borough—and make sure that the defendant does not slip through the cracks.
The arrest-alert system embodies the recognition that a defendant’s official history of arrests and convictions may fail to convey his position in the criminal food chain. A 16-year-old gang member from Harlem may be responsible for numerous shootings in his neighborhood, as attested to by his Facebook page, but never have been arrested for any of them because his victims and witnesses refused to cooperate with the police. Or he may himself have been shot by a rival and refused to assist with the investigation. He may be the prime suspect in several robberies, for which the police have yet to develop probable cause to make an arrest. If he winds up nabbed for shoplifting in SoHo, the misdemeanor prosecutor will have, at most, a few minutes to decide whether to pursue the charge. Seeing simply a petty vandal, the charging attorney would likely let him walk free. But armed with the intelligence that the CSU has gathered on the gangsters, the attorney can try to bump up the charges and can argue to the judge for high or no bail pretrial. Meantime, if detectives from the precinct where the gang member is suspected of committing his most serious crimes have asked to be included in the CSU’s arrest-alert system, they can pay him a visit in jail and see if he will now cooperate with them.
Retrieved August 25, 2014 from http://www.city-journal.org/2014/24_3_intelligence-driven-crime-fighting.html