The mayor has approved a proposed city police redistricting map that will transfer Bolton Hill from the BPD central district, which stretches south from the neighborhood and includes most of the Midtown benefits district and Downtown/Inner Harbor, to the BPD western district. In addition to Bolton Hill, five adjacent and nearby neighborhoods will also move from the central district to the western district: Reservoir Hill, Madison Park, Upton, Druid Heights and Heritage Crossing.
According to western district Capt. Matt Corell, one of several officers attending the BHCA September meeting, the change will take effect before the year ends. The central district is essentially being moved eastward by adding 13 neighborhoods, including Fells Point, Upper Fells Point, Butcher’s Hill, Washington Hill, Dunbar-Broadway, Oldtown, Gay Street and Johnston Square.
Every 10 years the city is required to re-evaluate the boundaries of its nine districts, which represent the geographic allocation of administrative and service resources. Redistricting is designed to better balance and manage law enforcement outlays, enable police to respond to crime faster and more efficiently, create a balance between calls for service and geography, maintain a presence in high crime areas and increase patrols and interactions with neighborhood residents.
Redistricting involved a two-step process, which began last spring. The review included data analysis and a citywide survey, which received just 375 usable responses – none from 48% of the 278 neighborhood statistics areas and none from Bolton Hill residents. The data analysis used five years of service information allocated over the neighborhoods and reflected 2020 Census data.
Accompanying the revised district map was information for the existing and proposed police districts on population, workload, crime, area in square miles and racial composition. Public input was requested and a six-page survey was distributed requesting additional feedback. This time 650 residents responded, including speakers at community meetings where a Bolton Hill representative spoke. Not surprisingly, some citizens opposed the changes. BHCA monitored but took no formal position on the shift.
The slightly adjusted boundaries will increase the western district population from 32,700 to 45,700. The change will result in the western district moving from the second smallest to the smallest in population. The western district will continue to have the least white and most black residents of the nine districts.
The proposed changes will increase the area from 2.8 to 3.6 square miles, the second smallest footprint. The number of crimes that occurred the past five years in the western district was 15,567 with the old boundaries, increasing to 20,344 with the new boundaries.
Under the adjusted map approved by the mayor, the central district population will increase from 40,900 to 46,300. It will expand from 2.6 to 3 square miles but remains the smallest. The number of crimes reported in the current central district from 2016 to 2021 was 23,929 while the proposed new district map experienced 26,809 crimes.
The proposed new boundaries for the western district are likely to facilitate coordination among neighborhood comprising the No Boundaries Coalition, which includes Bolton Hill.
The crime rate over the past five years is lower in the proposed western district than in the existing central district. However, the proportion of crime that is violent as opposed to property crime is higher in the proposed western district than the existing central district.
– Jim Prost. He is chair of BHCA’s safety and security committee. Reach him at email@example.com.