How Patrol is Organized
Most police departments break areas of responsibility down to small geographic areas. This is done to manage work load, increase accountability and allocate resources (personnel, cars, etc) most efficiently.
In Denver, the smallest geographic area (at least in police terms) is called a precinct. Denver’s tradition has been to have one officer assigned to every precinct on each shift. The precincts were then grouped (3-4) to create a sector which was managed by a sergeant. The largest geographical area for police in Denver is called a district. These are made up of two to three sectors and there are six districts in Denver. Each police district has a police commander in charge.
After a careful analysis of the current organization, we decided to re-draw the district boundaries, consolidate precincts from 72 to 31, and place sectors under the control of a patrol lieutenant. Let me explain what we found and why we are making this change.
Moving the Lines
Most of the current District boundaries were drawn almost 30 years ago. They were based largely on tradition, knowledge and experience of the command staff at that time. But a great deal has changed in Denver over the past 30 years – and our modern ability to apply high level analysis to issues allow us to create new boundaries to become more efficient and better allocate our resources. We looked at call loads, natural geographic boundaries (like the Platte River), consolidating areas with “like crime issues” (for instance, all of East Colfax is now in one police district), and neighborhood integrity (keeping Denver neighborhoods within a police district if possible). It was a thorough and extensive process, which utilized numerous perspectives to ensure the best possible outcome.
The new precincts will allow greater flexibility. For instance, staffing within a precinct can now be shifted at different times of the day depending on the demands for police service. Under the old system, there was one officer per precinct per shift – no matter how demand for service changed.
Sectors will now be managed by police lieutenants who are responsible for the activity in those areas 24 hours per day. The lieutenants report to the district commander.
On July 14, 2013, the police department transferred resources and adopted the newly drawn lines (click here to see a map). Here is a summary of the changes:
- District 1 (Northwest Denver) is expanding to include an area West of Speer Blvd and North of 6th Avenue. It is also expanding to include all of Globeville (basically West of the Platte River and North of Lower Downtown)
- District 2 (Northeast Denver) is expanding south to 6th Avenue (to include all of East Colfax). However, Stapleton is moving to District 5. District 2 is also taking part of the Five Point neighborhood (at 25th Street).
- District 3 (Southeast Denver) is basically South of 6th Avenue (there is a small pocket north of 6th Avenue at Quebec) and expands west to the Platte River.
- District 4 (Southwest Denver) will now be entirely on the West side of the Platte River.
- District 5 is expanding to include the Stapleton neighborhood.
Some examples of the benefits include:
- Under the old lines, five Denver neighborhoods were split between police districts, now there is only one
- District 6, the busiest police district, is shrinking dramatically which will help officers there concentrate in a smaller area with similar crime issues
- Under the old lines, Colfax was divided in half (North side of the street in District 2 and the South side in District 3). This was very inefficient due to the types and volume of crime on east Colfax.
- District lieutenants and commanders may now shift resources to problem areas within the new precincts without leaving other areas of the city “unpatrolled”.
- With lieutenants responsible for all issues within a sector 24 hours per day, there is greater accountability.
Most importantly, this is another step we have taken that will put the Denver Police Department in the best position to prevent crime.