Moving the Lines

new police car city view

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.

Change Summary

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.

Benefits

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.

Chief White

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13 Responses to Moving the Lines

  1. Jose Jimenez says:

    I don’t understand District 3 poking its nose north of 6th Ave.

  2. I live at 1150 Galapago Street and notice that I am now in District 1 instead of District 6. More specifically, I am in the southeastern corner of the district in precinct 123. I worry that by living in the far corner of a large district that the patrols will be fewer, and the response times longer.

    Also, when I was in District 6, the district station was on East Colfax, within walking distance. Now it is somewhere way up north, on 44th Avenue, and I have never even seen the place or been there. I don’t think that Lincoln Park is getting the better part of this change, but I guess the future statistics will tell the story.

    • Jeffrey,

      One of the main purposes behind this move was to level out the call loads. In fact, District 6 has been the busiest District for some time. This should actually INCREASE the number of patrols as officers won’t be pulled away to handle downtown issues or LoDo issues.

      As for walking distance, you are welcome to continue to walk to the District 6 station or Police Headquarters should you need police assistance. And if you do take a trip to the District 1 station – it will be well worth it! It is one of the city’s three “super-stations” built just a few years ago.

      We are confident that if you notice any real change it will be positive.

  3. Joe Wolf (V11-016) says:

    “District 5 is expanding to include the Lowry neighborhood.”

    Did you mean Stapleton?

  4. Michael Craig says:

    Good move. This makes much more sense than the old districts

  5. Eileen Charles Hyatt says:

    Thank you for applying your organization skills to provide good service and efficiency.

  6. Anthony Cirocco says:

    What will be the metrics you use to determine the effectivenes/success of this change?

  7. Virginia Dudden says:

    I am concerned dividing the 5 Points Neighborhood will negatively impact service. Why is this being done? District 6 has provided us with excellent service in the past. This new arrangement of districts makes me very uncomfortable.

    • We understand your concerns, but ask that you give it a chance. Five points is now the only divided neighborhood. This was done to keep similar areas together (single family homes versus multi unit properties). And also to keep Lodo in District 6 while reducing their call load (shifting north five points to District 2).

      We have great officers and commanders in both Districts and we are confident everyone will see improved service under this plan.

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