York City's new top cop focusing on violent crime, building bridges, he says

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch

York City's incoming police commissioner said he intends to focus on issues including reducing violent crime, working on department infrastructure and building relationships with the community.

Osborne Robinson III said he intends to implement the CompStat policing model — created by the New York City Police Department — for York City Police, as he did for the Reading (Berks County) Police Department when he was chief there.

He said the CompStat philosophy was implemented at the Baltimore City Police Department when he worked there. Robinson rose to the rank of colonel in Baltimore.

CompStat is a performance management system that is used to reduce crime and achieve other police department goals, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, and emphasizes information-sharing, responsibility and accountability along with improving effectiveness.

"It's about intelligence, it's about deployment, it's about tactics, and it's about relentless follow-ups and assessments," Robinson said.

He said he intends to have the department develop strategies to deal with pervasive issues that will be counterbalanced with outreach — especially youth outreach — to dispel "that image of a police state."

Robinson used the example of a police cadet program, which he said could become a source of new, and more diverse, police officers if implemented.

'We can do better': He said he's aware of the lack of diversity among uniform officers.

"Yes, we can do better," he said.

The 100-officer department currently has just two women officers and is 90% white, despite the fact that Latinos make up 32% of York City's population and blacks make up 26%, according to 2018 U.S. Census data.

Osborne will take over after current York City Police Chief Troy Bankert retires on Jan.10. Bankert did not attend the Thursday, Dec. 19, news conference in which Robinson introduced himself to local reporters.

Robinson said sergeants and lieutenants must now internally document violent crimes daily, which led police to determine that nearly 70% of the city's recent major crimes have been happening in the west end.

Such data allows police to "make more intelligent decisions" regarding how to deploy resources, he said.

The new philosophy won't clash with the city's current Group Violence Initiative, which seeks to reduce violence by targeting those committing it.

Soon to be York City Police Commissioner Osborne Robinson speaks to media at City Hall, Thursday, Dec. 19, 2019. Dawn J. Sagert photo

"I think that (GVI) is a good tool ... in addressing violent crime," the incoming commissioner said.

He said he's been shadowing Bankert since Oct. 14 to learn about the department.

Robinson will be police commissioner, rather than chief, because he was hired from outside the department rather than internally.

— Reach senior crime reporter Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.