Four Ways to Improve Your Stat Program

Wouldn’t it be great if your stat program could get you quick wins while also building community engagement? That’s just what the Seattle Police Department was able to do, even after a string of false starts, with its performance management program SeaStat. Through reasonable and effective improvements, SeaStat has created what SPD’s previous iterations weren’t able to: an inclusive, sustainable performance management program.

  1. Leadership matters! It’s critical to communicate the purpose and mission of your performance program to your city or department. Chief Kathleen O’Toole has made it clear to the Seattle Police Department that she is committed to performance management and that SeaStat is the way to keep SPD on track with its mission to prevent crime, enforce the law, and support quality public safety by delivering respectful, professional, and dependable police services.
  2. Don’t let perfect be the enemy of the good. If you wait to take action until everything about your performance program is perfect, you will have lost valuable time (and probably discover things still aren’t perfect.) Get started right away and work as a team to address difficulties in the now. The first SeaStat meeting took place just one month after Chief O’Toole committed to using stat to manage. Even though it meant working with legacy systems and pulling data from PDF reports which differed in each precinct, the SeaStat team and SPD dove right in, working through data and culture issues along the way. SPD kept the lines of communication open about what was and wasn’t working. This tactic helped SeaStat participants get invested in the process and take ownership over its successes.
  3. Think broadly about external stakeholders. For stat meetings to be successful, they need to be inclusive and call on whatever subject-matter knowledge is available. SeaStat strives to be a data-driven meeting with community input. Because SPD has been very active in recruiting attendees at community events and existing law enforcement working groups, there are a wide variety of external stakeholders who make attending and participating in SeaStat meetings a priority. This includes participants from university researchers to the ATF, other law enforcement agencies, and community members (e.g., neighborhood association leaders, business improvement districts members, and school administrators). Each of these stakeholders provides important community context and brings SPD a deeper understanding of how to support the city’s public safety goals.
  4. Share your successes immediately. When building a sustainable stat program and dealing with culture change and buy-in concerns, it’s important to share successes and wins frequently, both inside and outside your organization. SeaStat has cultivated a relationship with the local media, helping tell the program’s stories to the public. SeaStat’s dashboard also ensures neighborhood leaders, nonprofit organizations, other governmental entities, and the police department are all reviewing the same data and can work from common ground to solve problems around crime.

Looking for more ways to improve you performance management or stat program? Check out our full SeaStat case study on the website or download it as a PDF.


Have you applied SeaStat’s techniques to your performance program, with or without success? Is your city or department approaching stat in an innovative or unique way? Please let us know at govex@jhu.edu.