Department of Justice Announces Two New Publications Focused on the Needs of Rural Law Enforcement

For Immediate Release
COPS Office Public Affairs
(202) 514-9079


WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) today released a report titled “Conversations with Rural Law Enforcement Leaders, Volume Two.” In addition, in December 2020 the COPS Office released “Recruiting and Retaining Officers in Small and Rural Agencies.” These publications, and the numerous listening sessions and working groups that led to their production, are part of the COPS Office’s continuing effort to provide assistance for rural agencies that so often fail to receive the time, attention, and resources they deserve.

As part of an effort with the National Police Foundation and the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), in September 2018 the COPS Office began a series of discussions to focus on responding to the needs of rural law enforcement. This series of facilitated listening sessions was designed to solicit feedback from rural law enforcement executives throughout the United States. Working with the nation’s U.S. Attorneys, the COPS Office held 12 listening sessions across the country over a two-year period.

“Rural agencies often face challenges that are unique to their agencies, and because of geography, competing resources, and continually changing priorities, these challenges can often go ignored,” said COPS Office Director Phil Keith. “I’m proud of the time and effort that the COPS Office has dedicated to working with these very important agencies and gearing our available resources to their needs.”

Volume Two of this publication series covers conversations with agencies in Texas, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, North Dakota, and Pennsylvania. Topics discussed and included in this publication include funding, recruitment and retention, training, substance abuse, illegal drug trafficking, jail capacities, technology, and many more. Volume One of this series was released in March 2020.

The COPS Office’s other recent publication in this area, “Recruiting and Retaining Officers in Small and Rural Agencies,” is based on a daylong forum held in December 2019. The purpose was to discuss the challenges of law enforcement recruitment and retention, specifically focused on these issues in relation to smaller and more rural law enforcement agencies. The 32 participants included police chiefs, captains, lieutenants, academic experts, researchers, and agency directors of state police standards.

The wide-ranging discussion included a focus on the qualities that make an effective police officer, an in-depth examination of why officers leave a department, the most significant challenges to recruiting and retaining officers, and a brainstorming session on the range of strategies these departments use to attract and keep officers. The result was an exchange of ideas and success stories that reflected the unique regional and size differences between the departments.

The COPS Office is the federal component of the Department of Justice responsible for advancing community policing nationwide. The only Department of Justice agency with policing in its name, the COPS Office was established in 1994 and has been the cornerstone of the nation’s crime fighting strategy with grants, a variety of knowledge resource products, and training and technical assistance. Through the years, the COPS Office has become the go-to agency for law enforcement agencies across the country and continues to listen to the field and provide the resources that are needed to reduce crime and build trust between law enforcement and the communities served. The COPS Office has invested more than $14 billion to advance community policing, including grants awarded to more than 13,000 state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies to fund the hiring and redeployment of more than 134,000 officers.