Sunday, March 20, 2011

Does Size Matter ?

These numbers aren't terribly accurate, they are rounded off, too, but they are close enough to get some kinda point across.
Back when Cincinnati began it was just a few square miles along the river. Around 1810 there were about 2,000 people and policing was pretty much a volunteer night watch thing. A police force didn't happen till 1828 which resulted in a force of about 7 men. The population in 1830 was about 25,000.
In 1850 the city annexed the rest of "the basin" boosting the city's area to about 6 square miles. The population was about 115,000. A police chief system was established in 1852.
Throughout the 1800s police got around on foot or on horseback. In the later decades they added horse drawn wagons to the mix.
Cincinnati began annexing nearby villages. Cumminsville was added in 1873. At the time of the courthouse riots of 1884, Cincinnati had a police force of 300. By 1900 the city had a population of about 325,000 & covered about 50 square miles. This would have given the city about 6 officers per square mile that they would traverse by foot or on horseback.
The police established a telegraph network as early as 1866 with "call boxes" & updated it to telephony by 1880. Prior to that the patrolling officer was pretty much out on his own. Cincinnati's was actually the first police department to adopt the telephone.
In 1904 the first motorized
police wagon" was introduced. In 1911 the police force adopted motorcycles and in 1912 patrol cars were introduced giving the officers a greater range & faster response times. Theoretically. Tires of that era were of notoriously poor quality & flats were commonplace.
The city ceased it's annexation campaign around 1914 when it had grown to just under 80 square miles.
By the 1950s Cincinnati's population peaked at over 500,000. Police cars had become specialty vehicles with powerful engines and advanced suspensions. Later, the call boxes were replaced with radio communications. If you were around in the 1960s you probably remember seeing the old call boxes. Through better communications & transportation the police were well equipped to handle the area and population.
By 2011 the population of Cincinnati has shrunk to just under 300,000. It has not grown it's area for almost 100 years. The police officers are aided with computer networks in addition to their better radios & an array of weaponry, the latest additions primarily being non-lethal.
The police force, at around 1,000 officers added another 100 around 2006. This gives Cincinnati approximately 13 officers, with damn near Batman-like technology, per square mile. This is more than twice the police per square mile of 120 years ago when we had roughly the same size population, only a slightly smaller footprint & police were running around on foot & communicating with stationary phones. Do all the high tech advances count for nothing? Seems like we should need fewer police, not more.

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