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Tucson Police Officers Redraw Division Boundaries To Balance Their Workload

NCJ Number
Geography & Public Safety Volume: 1 Issue: 4 Dated: January 2009 Pages: 3-5
Date Published
February 2009
3 pages

This article describes the procedures used by the Tucson Police Department (Arizona) in redrawing patrol division boundaries so as to balance division workloads.


The work of the Tucson Police Department (TPD) was originally divided into five divisions that varied in size and workload. Over time, however, uneven urban growth within each division created an unbalanced workload for officers, which produced an imbalance in staffing, morale problems, and span-of-control issues. In late 2005, commanders began redesigning division boundaries so as to equalize the workload among divisions. Before beginning the project, the TPD examined its management strategies to determine whether a change in management practices could help resolve the problem. Issues examined were whether officers in all divisions were held accountable for productivity in the performance of their duties, as well as whether all divisions followed the same procedures. After assessing management strategies, staff identified the factors that contributed to workload and developed a system for weighing factors pertinent to redistricting. Staff then used a redistricting software program called Geobalance, in coordination with geographic information systems (GIS), in order to redraw division boundary lines. Using this software enabled the staff to break the city down into cells that could be consolidated into divisions. Criteria for a cell were that it should be bordered by logical boundaries (streets, alleys, rivers, etc.); sufficiently large to contain meaningful data (e.g., hot spot locations, bar locations); and sufficiently small to be combined in various ways to form divisions. GIS mapping files were used to divide Tucson into numbered grid squares one-quarter of a square mile in size. Staff then populated the cells with workload data for a year of calls. Geobalance enabled the assignment of each cell on a map to a different division. 3 figures and 5 notes

Date Published: February 1, 2009