Minnesota Public Radio has been doing an ongoing series called “The Price of Safety”, focusing specifically on law enforcement outside the Minnesota metro area.
“Tight budgets, changing populations, new technology and even new attitudes about public safety are making many communities in outstate Minnesota change their approach to safety, security and the law.”
They recently did a piece on rural domestic related violence and the challenges it brings to a county attorney’s office and the local law enforcement agencies. They highlight some important points that go overlooked:
- The greatest challenge for a prosecuting attorney is a recanting witness. An arrest does not always lead to a sentence. A big reason that a victim recants is because their financial security comes from the abuser.
- Witnesses are more likely to have friendships with the suspect and victim creating a hesitancy to provide statements about what happened.
- There is greater poverty in rural areas than urban areas. A loss of a job often times leads to domestic assaults within the household.
- The frequency of domestic assaults in a rural area is the same as that of an urban area.
- With more limited resources, rural law enforcement officers may be responding to domestic assaults by themselves. This is something that an urban department has the luxury of not happening. Response times are also longer in rural areas.
Ralph A. Weisheit, a criminal justice professor at Illinois State University, and Joseph F. Donnermeyer, professor of rural sociology at Ohio State University provide insight as well regarding studies they have done on what defines rural crimes. Rural areas are more likely to have crimes involving violence against women and drug production and farm burglaries are on the rise. Weisheit answers a question about the differences between rural and urban law enforcement by saying:
“Rural police have a more personal connection to the people they are policing. It’s common for rural police to be approached about a crime problem, even if they are not in uniform, even if they are mowing the yard. I’ve heard large city police say they would never live in the neighborhoods they patrol. They may not like the people they are patrolling.”
There is also an article on rural SWAT agencies training and a map showing 20 rural police departments that have closed in the last few years.