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Community Policing in Small Town and Rural America

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 1994
19 pages
The authors argue that community policing draws heavily on ideas and practices that have long been traditions in rural areas, and report a study of rural policing funded by the National Institute of Justice.
Study interviews were conducted with 46 rural sheriffs and 28 small-town police chiefs. Of the 74 interviews, 61 were by telephone and 13 were face-to-face. Rural police officers generally agreed that their practices were compatible with community policing. Many sheriffs and police chiefs believed they were well ahead of urban areas with respect to community policing. Rural police officers received calls for a wide range of services, and their effectiveness appeared to be linked to close police- community relations. Policing in rural areas illustrated the idea of decentralizing police department activities. Further, rural police practices raised questions about the nature of police accountability to the public and highlighted differences between formal and informal accountability. The authors view community policing as a formalized and rationalized version of small-town policing where the purpose is to introduce accountability and provide a measure of legal rationality to what is a much more spontaneous and informal process in rural areas. 23 references and 1 table

Date Published: January 1, 1994