Rural policing is no longer Mayberry, and maybe it never was. Rural Sheriff’s deputies face more stress related to their personal safety and security accompanied by an increased demand for their services. Although urban police officers may have a backup available to them within minutes, in rural areas it can often take up to an hour for an adequate response if one at all. In most rural areas there simply isn’t enough funding to provide the adequate amount of officers to handle the increase in demand and territory.
“Like their city police colleagues, many of our nation’s elected sheriffs preside over far-stretching jurisdictions with limited resources. Crime-free rural patrol is the picture conjured up by the sheriffs of the media, such as Mayberry’s Andy Griffith, but the reality is far from the folklore.” -Dr. Richard Weinblatt
The available manpower in rural areas is vastly different than big cities, with only a few part-time employees representing the smallest and mostly rural located agencies. Limited manpower is only one of the obstacles rural sheriffs are facing, they are also seeing increased need for patrol. In reality,
he time for general patrol is rapidly dwindling in the face of increased calls for service without a commensurate deputy increase.
With technology’s rapid expansion, there are new apps introduced every day that could help Rural law enforcement better utilize the manpower they do have. The great thing about apps is that they can be very inexpensive if not free, enabling Rural law enforcement to make a real difference with minimal cost. With apps such as , the same officer can answer the call, gather evidence by capturing pictures and videos, and manage the case. It streamlines the process and cuts down on man hours. Another efficient app is iPatrol. By providing the officer with the ability to do information queries from the field, It eliminates time spent contacting dispatch and waiting for a response.
It would be a mistake to label the work of Sheriff’s Offices as strictly law enforcement because their duties go far beyond enforcing the law, It would be more accurate to describe their work as policing. In many rural areas and small towns, law enforcement is often, the only social service agency available around the clock 365 days a year.
They may be called on to deal with problems, that in urban areas would be handled by other agencies. For example, some small town Sheriff’s duties have included everything from putting up Christmas lights, to checking on chemicals in the water treatment plant. In essence, rural officers are expected to do more with less. With limited funds, hiring more help is often not possible. Turning to technology can be more cost effective and help relieve officers of some of their duties. While drone technology has seemed like science fiction for use by local law enforcement, commercialization has brought more UAVs to market—making such eyes-in-the-sky an invaluable tool for law enforcement. Depending on the payload, UAVs can cover a wide area more quickly than a patrol officer on foot. When combined with GPS Tracking you are able to see your UAV on the same screen as all of your officers, allowing you monitor the entire incident in near real-time.
With the state of the economy and financial issues, municipal funding is being cut. When you add a problem like shrinking budgets, to an increased demand for policing services and limited manpower, the policing problem in rural areas explodes. With fewer funds and soaring stress levels, people start cutting line items from their budgets. But new technologies such as GPS tracking costs very little, decrease operating costs and increase efficiencies to the point of saving jobs.
Sheriff Kevin Bond of Pettis County Missouri on Rural First GPS tracking; “The Sprocket system is more robust than any other system I have had the opportunity to see, and it is designed for emergency services”.
Without the appropriate manpower or funding to cover growing territories and populations, sheriff’s struggle to keep the morale high. Armed with a great sense of responsibility for their community and deputies, Sheriffs tirelessly search for a cost effective solution. In the meantime, officers continue to work long hours, with low pay and little to no backup.
Utilizing current 911 data can go a long way when it comes to managing resources. When you analyze existing data, you can identify trends such as the time of day, and location that crime is highest. With this knowledge Sheriff’s can create specific routes for deputies, that ensure these areas are patrolled, and backup is close by. When existing 911 data is combined with technologies such as GPS tracking, Sheriffs can begin to put a dent in rising crime rates, with out putting more feet on the ground.
There are many more new technologies, available to assist with dwindling local Government funding, increased demand for policing services, larger territories, and limited manpower. And while technology can’t solve every issue faced by rural law enforcement it can truly be a lifesaver.
Rural First provides GPS Tracking solutions designed specifically for First Responders, that serve Rural Communities throughout the US. If you are considering the benefits of fleet management for your office, we would love to show you how we can become a valued member of your team.