This article from the Winter 2011 edition of TechBeat examines the lack of a unified voice at the national level for dealing with the problems of small and rural police agencies.
The 2010 National Summit for Small Law Enforcement Agencies brought together law enforcement officials from small and rural agencies (less than 50 sworn officers) across the country to share their ideas regarding the top issues facing small agencies. Participants at the conference identified the lack of a national unified voice in larger national organizations such as the National Sheriffs' Association to address the concerns of small and rural agencies as their primary concern. Participants noted that the majority of work done by the large national organizations is done for the benefit of large police agencies. Participants indicated that small agencies acting alone are unable to have any impact on policy, but that coming together and speaking as one unified voice increases their ability to have their concerns addressed by officials. Other concerns identified at the summit include lack of funding for small and rural agencies, lack of training resources for small and rural agencies, standards for communications and unfunded Federal mandates, and a lack of user-driven technology standards for law enforcement.