Networks and Spatial Economics

, Volume 10, Issue 1, pp 125–145 | Cite as

Determining Optimal Police Patrol Areas with Maximal Covering and Backup Covering Location Models

  • Kevin M. Curtin
  • Karen Hayslett-McCall
  • Fang Qiu


This paper presents a new method for determining efficient spatial distributions of police patrol areas. This method employs a traditional maximal covering formulation and an innovative backup covering formulation to provide alternative optimal solutions to police decision makers, and to address the lack of objective quantitative methods for police area design in the literature or in practice. This research demonstrates that operations research methods can be used in police decision making, presents a new backup coverage model that is appropriate for patrol area design, and encourages the integration of geographic information systems and optimal solution procedures. The models and methods are tested with the police geography of Dallas, TX. The optimal solutions are compared with the existing police geography, showing substantial improvement in number of incidents covered as well as total distance traveled.


Maximal covering Backup covering Optimization Geographic information systems Police patrol areas Police beats 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kevin M. Curtin
    • 1
  • Karen Hayslett-McCall
    • 2
  • Fang Qiu
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of GeographyGeorge Mason UniversityFairfaxUSA
  2. 2.Programs in Criminology and Geographic Information SciencesSchool of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences (GR 31), University of Texas at DallasRichardsonUSA
  3. 3.Program in Geographic Information SciencesSchool of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences (GR 31), University of Texas at DallasRichardsonUSA

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