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MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 20, 1999202/307-0703



WASHINGTON, D.C.-- Seattle has been selected as the first jurisdiction in the country to test a new initiative that is the "one of the most comprehensive crime fighting innovations to date," according to Jeremy Travis, Director of the Justice Department's National Institute of Justice (NIJ). Computer Mapping, Planning and Analysis of Safety Strategies (COMPASS), will create a repository to maintain different information systems at the local level and give policy-makers a clearer picture of the problems their communities are facing.

NIJ will provide up to $1 million in financial and in-kind assistance for the implementation of the COMPASS initiative, which will be coordinated by Seattle Mayor Paul Schell's office.

"The COMPASS program combines the most advanced crime mapping technology we have available to identify and analyze the factors that contribute to a community's well-being," noted Travis. For the first time, local policy-makers will be able to examine how these elements interrelate and will be better able to devise programs and policies at the community level."

COMPASS is a unique information-based initiative that will combine data such as employment statistics, land use data, hospital records and arrest and victimization statistics, into a centralized database. This database will build upon the technology infrastructure Seattle currently has in place. COMPASS will apply Geographic Information System (GIS) technology to this database, which will allow public safety agencies to plot crime-related data against a map of a specified community or region. The GIS mapping capability will help analyze how the relationships among these community factors affect its overall well-being.

An interagency policy group, which will be composed of a number of local officials, such as the mayor, chief of police, school superintendent, officials from social service agencies and others, will analyze the data and develop appropriate programmatic and policy responses. Universities and local research institutes also will play a key role in COMPASS implementation, by collecting and analyzing information and helping design interventions that effectively respond to the community's crime problems.

According to Travis, working with Seattle will "assist NIJ in understanding how to construct a comprehensive information sharing system of this nature, which will be helpful when adapting the COMPASS principles to other communities." NIJ and its parent agency, the Office of Justice Programs (OJP), hope to expand the COMPASS program next year. OJP and the Justice Department's Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Office have requested $30 million for the COMPASS initiative for fiscal year 2000.

NIJ, the Justice Department's primary research and evaluation arm, supports research, evaluation, and demonstration programs, the development of technology, and both national and international information dissemination. More information about NIJ and its programs is available at: Information about other Office of Justice Programs (OJP) bureaus and program offices is available at Media should contact OJP's Office of Congressional and Public Affairs at 202/307-0703.

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For additional information contact Liz Pearson at 202/307-0703.

NIJ 99-185