The spatial misallocation of police officers
In D.C., cops are not where the crime is
Washington, D.C. is divided into seven Police Districts that are in turn divided into Police Service Areas (PSAs). Each Police District has its own police station, and each PSA has a specific squad of officers assigned to patrol it. The Police Districts are drawn to reflect population levels — District 3, where I live, is geographically smaller than the others because it’s much more densely populated — but unlike the drawing of lines for City Council districts, there’s no constitutional obligation to equalize population.
That’s good because, for example, the downtown area (largely within PDs 1 and 2) doesn’t have very many residents, but still needs police officers since plenty of people are physically present in the area at any given time. The legal laxity also means that the lines can accommodate the city’s social and physical geography rather than adhering to a strict population logic. Police Districts 6 and 7 are both east of the Anacostia River and correspond roughly to the areas …
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