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Conversations With Rural Law Enforcement Leaders: Volume 1

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As part of the U.S. Justice Department’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services’ (COPS Office’s) and the Bureau of Justice Assistance’s (BJA’s) strategy to facilitate discussion and solicit feedback from rural law enforcement executives, this report summarizes the key topics, focus areas, and needs prioritized by rural law enforcement leaders in South Dakota, Oklahoma, Utah, Iowa, and Montana.
The topics addressed in this report reflect discussions in listening sessions held with rural law enforcement leaders in each of the five states. Insufficient funding was an overarching topic of all five sessions. Participants explained how the lack of state and local funding impacts every aspect of their agencies’ efforts to address community needs and public safety. Specifically, participants indicated that low funding levels have prevented the hiring and retaining of staffing levels needed for their vast jurisdictions. The acquisition of modern policing equipment and technology has also suffered. Efforts to access federal funding and resources have been impeded due to unfamiliarity with application and reporting requirements. Regarding law enforcement challenges, illegal drug use and other drug-related issues have challenged rural law enforcement. Without funding and support to disrupt the flow of drugs into their communities, rural law enforcement agencies are unable to make an impact on drug use and associated crime problems. Other problematic issues discussed in the listening sessions included jail overcrowding, challenges in partnering with and receiving support from state and federal stakeholders, and relationships with Indian tribes. Some general steps being taken by the COPS Office and BJA to address these issues at the federal level are mentioned in the report’s conclusion. Summaries of listening sessions from the five states are appended.
Date Created: March 20, 2020