This article from the Quarterly Bulletin of Applied Geography for the Study of Crime and Public Safety examines the sources that the Baltimore County Police Department uses to define neighborhoods.
The Baltimore County Police Department uses community policing strategies to protect citizens from crime in their homes and their communities. In community policing, line officers consistently serve the same geographic areas and populations. For this reason, neighborhoods as a defined geographical area become an important part of police work. This article examines several models that can be used to define neighborhoods. These models include: elementary school model - defining a neighborhood by the population served by an elementary school; name model - defining neighborhoods by popular names used by the media or local population; and census geography model - defining neighborhoods according the data from the U.S. Census. In Baltimore County, neighborhood boundaries are identified as those corresponding to community associations. These boundaries are the basis by which the police have developed beat boundaries. Additional information obtained from other sources is also used by police analysts to approximate neighborhood boundaries. The article examines several systems used by the Baltimore County police to provide better policing of neighborhoods. These systems include: census data; public safety indicators; crime reports and maps; and early warning programs. The importance of neighborhood public safety to the success of the Baltimore County Police Department is discussed. 1 figure and 9 notes