Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach

Crime Fighting Kings Pt. 1

In the early 90s, New York City was a horrible place to live. On average, six people were murdered a day.

Crime was rampant.

Nobody had any viable solutions except for one man called Jack Maple.

But nobody listened to him, because he was a transit cop whose sole duty was to patrol the subways.

Tired of chasing nobodies who jumped the turnstiles, Jack escaped the underground during his lunch break to catch real crooks on Times Square. And every day he made an arrest.

Which meant he had to take the felon to the station and spend the rest of the day in processing instead of the subway. 

Jack’s superiors had no need for a transit cop who didn’t stay put. The upper echelon gave him a warning: as long as you defy orders and leave the underground, you’ll always remain a lowly subway patrolman.

And for the next decade, Jack wasted his talents stuck in transit, until one day crime came down to him.

People on the underground were being mugged. Large groups of armed thugs would storm into a subway car, rob all the occupants and scram.

Although the transit police unit was 4,000 people strong, nobody knew how to end the wolfpack robberies.

Jack did and was assigned head of a 24-man team. Next, he set up a sting operation. The entire squad dressed up as easy prey, brought a boombox to draw attention, and ‘partied’ in the rear car.

The perps took to the cops like bees to honey. And got arrested in an instant.

Soon every criminal knew easy targets could very well be policemen. Wolfpack robberies plummeted from 1,200 a year down to twelve.

Jack’s bosses finally realised that the cop they tossed into transit may actually know how to clean the streets of New York. And gave him a promotion.

“If he can get the crime out of the underground, we may listen to his ideas about the city.” 

Jack got an office and plastered the walls with 55 feet worth of paper. And drew every of the 430 subway stations onto the blank canvas.

Next, Jack got out a box full of coloured stickers and a crime spreadsheet. Every crime got its own colour and the sticker was stuck on the place where it happened.

The office-wide map told you exactly what crime was happening and where.

If you could see colour, you could see exactly where muggers, pickpockets and purse-snatchers liked to operate. And how they moved along the train lines.

Jack turned the NYC subway into a safe haven within two years.

By now it’s 1993, and Jack is made second-in-command of the city police. Everyone but the police commissioner hates him—nobody wants to listen to an ex-transit cop.

At the same time, Jack has no respect for his colleagues because the police department only solved one type of crime, crime against rich white people.

Everything else was ignored. Including homicides involving people of colour and police shootouts.

Jack wanted to know everything and hold his men accountable for neglect.

He’d realise that plan through a new system of his own creation, called COMPSTAT.

Collecting data wasn’t the hard part, it was the accountability.

Were robberies up of a particular precinct?

Then Jack invited the relevant squad commander to explain the increase in crime rate in front of every big shot of the force.

If the commander couldn’t show that he was tackling the problem, he was fired.

A COMPSTAT meeting was so nerve-racking that 50-year-old police chiefs spent the last moments before the session hanging over a toilet bowl. These chiefs couldn’t handle being responsible for all types of crime, after years of only handling the ‘big cases’.

Cops hated Jack. But the people loved him.

Within two years, New York was the safest city in the nation. 

In ‘96, the police commissioner and Jack left the force to spread COMPSTAT to police departments across the world.

New York saw the duo as the greatest innovators in law enforcement. But by the early 2000s, the flaw of the new crime fighting machine reared its ugly head.

Find out tomorrow what the crime fighting kings overlooked.

By Jeroen Elsing
Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach