Many Americans envision law enforcement agencies as big organizations with large numbers of officers and top-notch modern equipment. But, that is not true.
Nearly half of all local law enforcement agencies in the United States have fewer than 10 sworn officers.
3 out of 4 agencies have less than 25 sworn officers or deputies
9 out of 10 agencies have less than 50 sworn officers or deputies.
According to a report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, approximately 70 percent of agencies serve communities of fewer than 10,000 population. Over 90% of local law enforcement agencies employ fewer than 50 sworn officers/deputies and serve populations less than 50,000.
The United States Census Bureau estimates about 97% of America consists of rural areas. Because these areas are faced with unique challenges, law enforcement in rural areas may face complications and issues that their counterparts in urban areas do not. These problems can place a strain on rural police departments, making their jobs more difficult.
70% of America’s 3,069 counties (2,127) have populations under 50,000.
Under 5,000 population – 299
Counties Under 10,000 population – 381
Counties Under 22,500 population – 725
Counties Under 50,000 population – 722
824 counties have populations between 50,000 and 500,000
118 counties have populations over 500,000.
Small, rural, and tribal agencies have many of the same problems that law enforcement departments have in larger areas, and big cities around our country have. Unfortunately, small communities have a much smaller tax base, which affects their law enforcement department budget. These small departments have less funding for personnel, training, equipment, technology, and other needed resources to prevent crime and maintain public safety.
Additionally, small, rural & tribal law enforcement executives have been underrepresented and primarily been left out of national discussions regarding law enforcement needs and challenges. With fewer resources than larger agencies, larger geographical areas of responsibility, and different types of crimes, they needed a voice!
Washington Post Article On Police Reform
Most police departments in America are small.
That’s partly why changing policing is difficult, experts say.
Inside Small Town Police Departments
INSIDE SMALL TOWN POLICE DEPARTMENTS
Giving a voice to the silent majority: Rural police leaders share challenges ahead
Issues in Policing Rural Areas: A Review
Policing on American Indian Reservations
Conversations with Rural Law Enforcement Leaders: Volume 1
Conversations with Rural Law Enforcement Leaders: Volume 2
Recruiting and Retaining Officers in Small and Rural Agencies