Crimefighter Maple of Richmond Hill dead Maple

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Jack Maple, the flamboyant Richmond Hill native credited with engineering the Giuliani administra­tion’s crime-fighting strategies, died of colon cancer Saturday at his Manhattan apartment. He was 48.

Short in stature at 5 feet 8 inches and weighing in at a rotund 220 pounds, Maple was a colorful figure well-known for his homburg hat, two-tone shoes and omnipresent bow tie. He had a soft spot for the high life, frequenting the Plaza Hotel’s Oak Room and the Upper East Side celebrity hangout Elaine’s, where legend has it he mapped out the city’s crime control strategy on a napkin.

Maple was an aggressive cop who joined the Transit Police force at age 19. He worked his way up to the rank of lieutenant before being tapped by William J. Bratton to become his second-in-command when Bratton was named commissioner in 1994.

The jump to deputy commissioner rankled others in the department, but Bratton’s choice bore fruit.

“Jack was one of the truly great innovators in law enforcement who helped to make New York City the safest large city in America,” said Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, who recently visited him in his hospital room at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

Maple designed the Police Department’s Compstat program, a system in which crime statistics are collected, computerized, mapped and disseminated quickly. In a 1999 interview with the crime-fighting journal Government Technology, Maple said, “The beauty of the mapping is that it poses the question, ‘Why?’ What are the underlying causes of why there is a cluster of crime in a particular place?”

The Compstat program revolutionized the Police Department, winning an award from the Ford Foundation for innovation in American government. With Bratton and Maple orchestrating crime control, the number of homicides in the city fell from more than 2,000 a year in 1994 to 629 in 1997, the year after the two left the Police Department. Overall crime dropped 39 percent under Bratton’s watch.

Compstat’s success in New York City led to its adoption by other cities across the country, including Newark, New Orleans and Baltimore. Maple’s legend even inspired television producers; the main character in “The District,” a police drama, is modeled after him.

John Edward Maple was born Sept. 23, 1952, one of seven children of a postal worker and a nurse’s aide. He grew up in Richmond Hill. After dropping out of high school, he earned a night school diploma from Brooklyn Technical High School.

He started with the transit police in the early 1970s and after eight years, became the youngest detective in the department at 27. He made a name for himself as a decoy in the subway, duping criminals with impersonations of drunks, blind men, rabbis and European tourists.

Maple then came up with the idea of tracking subway crimes using colored pins on 55 feet of maps taped to a wall. “The Charts of the Future,” as they became known, helped to reduce crime in the subways, catching the attention of Bratton, who was named chief of the transit police in 1990.

After joining Bratton in Boston when he was named chief of that city’s police force, Maple followed his boss back to New York in 1994. Maple left the department after two years in 1996 when Bratton was forced out of his position by Giuliani.

He then founded a consulting business, traveling around the country to help cities solve their crime problems.

In 1999, Maple wrote “The Crime Fighter: Putting the Bad Guys Out of Business,” a first-person account of how he helped transform crime fighting in New York City.

He is survived by his third wife, former police Lt. Brigid O’Connor, whom he married this year. He also leaves three children and six siblings.

Reach reporter Daniel Massey by e-mail at or call 229-0300, Ext. 139.

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