The importance of crime and place and the diversity inherent in crime problems and policing styles have been recognized for decades. However, less is known about the types of issues and challenges that must be confronted by agencies located in rural communities. This exploratory research presents preliminary findings from a study of six non-metropolitan law enforcement agencies nested within rural areas in Oklahoma. Qualitative interviews and field visits were conducted with a purposive sample of departmental officials. Data collection efforts focused on understanding the types of issues the departments face and the current state of the drug and crime problems in these areas. Key themes include law enforcement challenges, crime, drugs, and gang activity. Unanticipated findings that emerged during the course of the research are also discussed.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price includes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
The United States (U.S.) Census Bureau defines rurality as an area that does not fit into one of the following two categories: urbanized areas (50,000 or more people) and urban clusters (2500 to 49,999 people) (Ratcliffe et al. 2016). The Office of Management and Budget provides information about metropolitan counties, which have an urbanized area core of at least 50,000, and micropolitan counties, which have an urban cluster core of at least 10,000. These delineations may be misleading, as rural areas can exist within counties labeled metropolitan or micropolitan (Ratcliffe et al. 2016; Sunstein 2010).
The first three acronyms refer to the following U.S. federal agencies: Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF), Drug Enforcement Administration. The fourth acronym, OBN, refers to the state-level agency the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs.
Oklahoma SQ 780 & 781 were forthcoming at the time this article was written.
Barclay, E., J. Donnermeyer, and S. Jobes. 2004. The Dark Side of Gemeinschft: Criminality within Rural Communities. Crime Prevention and Community Safety 6 (3): 7–22.
Brock, D., M. Copeland, R.F. Scott, and P. Ethridge. 2001. Rural Policing in the Midwest: An Examination of Dissimilar Regions and Drug Offending. Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice 17 (1): 49–59.
Buttle, J., C. Fowler, and M.W. Williams. 2010. The Impact of Rural Policing on the Private Lives of New Zealand Police Officers. International Journal of Police Science and Management 12 (4): 1–11.
Cain, M.E. 1973. Society and the Policeman’s Role. NY: Routledge.
Carrington, K., J.F. Donnermeyer, and W.S. Dekeseredy. 2014. Intersectionality, Rural Criminology, and Re-imaging the Boundaries of Critical Criminology. Critical Criminology 22 (4): 463–477.
Case, P. 2013. Police Ask Farmers to Log Rural Crime. Farmers Weekly. Available from: https://fwi.co.uk/farm-life/police-ask-farmers-to-log-rural-crimes.htm. Accessed 10 Nov 2017.
Ceccato, V. 2015. Rural Crime and Community Safety. Journal of Rural Studies 39: 157–159.
Decker, S. 1979. The Rural County Sheriff: An Issue in Social Control. Criminal Justice Review 4 (2): 97–111.
Dekeseredy, W.S. 2015. New Directions in Feminist Understandings of Rural Crime. Journal of Rural Studies 39: 180–187.
Donnermeyer, J. 2007. Rural Crime: Roots and Restoration. International Journal of Rural Crime 1: 1–12.
Donnermeyer, J.F. 2015. The Social Organisation of the Rural and Crime in the United States: Conceptual Considerations. Journal of Rural Studies 39: 160–170.
Donnermeyer, J.F., and W.S. DeKeseredy. 2014. Rural Criminology: New Directions in Critical Criminology, 4. New York, NY: Routledge.
Donnermeyer, J.F., W.S. DeKeseredy, and M. Dragiewicz. 2011. Policing Rural Canada and the United States. In Rural Policing and Policing the Rural: A Constable Coutnryside, ed. R.I. Mawby and R. Harwood, 23–32. Ashgate, New York: Routledge.
Donnermeyer, J.F., and K. Tunnell. 2007. In Our Own Backyard: Methamphetamine Manufacturing, Trafficking and Abuse in Rural America. Rural Realities 2 (2): 1–12.
Fenwick, T. 2015. Learning Policing in Rural Spaces: Covering 12 Foot Rooms with 8 Foot Carpets. Policing 9 (3): 234–241.
Halfacree, K.H. 1993. Locality and Social Representation: Space, Discourse and Alternative Definitions of the Rural. Journal of Rural Studies 9 (1): 23–27.
Huey, L., and R. Ricciardelli. 2015. ‘This Isn’t What I Signed Up For’: When Police Officer Role Expectations Conflict with the Realities of General Duty Police Work in Remote Communities. International Journal of Police Science and Management 17 (3): 194–203.
Jobes, P. 2003. Human Ecology and Rural Policing: A Grounded Theoretical Analysis of How Personal Constraints and Community Characteristics Influence Strategies of Law Enforcement in Rural New South Wales, Australia. Police Practice and Research 4 (1): 3–19.
Liederbach, J., and J. Frank. 2003. Policing Mayberry: The Work Routines of Small-Town and Rural Officers. American Journal of Criminal Justice 28 (1): 53–72.
Lindström, P. 2015. Police and Crime in Rural and Small Swedish Municipalities. Journal of Rural Studies 39: 271–277.
Mawby, R.I. 2009. Perceptions of Police and Policing in a Rural County of England. International Journal of Police Science and Management 1 (1): 39–53.
Mawby, R.I. 2011. Rural Policing: A Comparative Overview. In Rural Policing and Policing the Rural, ed. R.I. Mawby and R. Yarwood, 11–21. Ashgate, NY: Routledge.
Mawby, R.I., and R. Yarwood (eds.). 2011. Rural Policing and Policing the Rural. NY: Routledge. [Ashgate Publishing. Republished (2016)].
O’Shea, T.C. 1999. Community Policing in Small Town Rural America: A Comparison of Police Officer Attitudes in Chicago and Baldwin County, Alabama. Policing and Society 9 (1): 59–76.
Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of the State of Oklahoma. 2018. 2017 January 1-December 31 State of Oklahoma. Oklahoma City, OK: Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.
Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics. 2017. Oklahoma Drug Threat Assessment 2017. Available at: https://www.ok.gov/obndd/. Accessed 25 Apr 2018.
Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. 2017. Client Counts by Drug of Choice (FY11-FY15) [Data File]. Retrieved from http://www.odmhsas.org/eda/oongus_drug.htm.
Oklahoma Policy Institute. 2016. State Questions 780 and 781: Criminal Justice Reform. Oklahoma Policy Institute. Available at: https://okpolicy.org/state-questions-780-781-criminal-justice-reform/. Accessed 25 Oct 2018.
Payne, B.K., B.L. Berg, and I.Y. Sun. 2005. Policing in Small Town America: Dogs, Drunks, Disorder, and Dysfunction. Journal of Criminal Justice 33 (1): 1–41.
Pelfrey, W.V. 2007. Style of Policing Adopted by Rural Police and Deputies. Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies and Management 30 (4): 620–636.
Ratcliffe, M., C. Burd, K. Holder, and A. Fields. 2016. Defining Rural at the U.S. Census Bureau. American Community Survey and Geography Brief. Suitland-Silver Hill: United States Census Bureau.
Scott, J., and P.C. Jobes. 2007. Policing in Rural Australia: The Country Cop as Law Enforcer and Local Resident. In Crime in Rural Australia, ed. E. Barclay, J.F. Donnermeyer, R. Hogg, and J. Scott, 127–137. Sydney: Federation Press.
Smith, R. 2010. Policing the Changing Landscape of Rural Crime: A Case Study from Scotland. International Journal of Police Science and Management 12 (3): 1–15.
Somerville, P., R. Smith, and G. McElwee. 2015. The Dark Side of Rural Idyll: Stories of Illegal/Illicit Economic Activity in the UK Countryside. Journal of Rural Studies 39: 219–228.
Stoneberg, D.M., R.K. Shukla, and M.B. Magness. 2018. Global Methamphetamine Trends: An Evolving Problem. International Criminal Justice Review 28 (2): 136–161.
Sunstein, C.R. 2010. 2010 Standards for Delineating Metropolitan and Micropolitan Statistical Areas. Federal Register Notice 75 (123): 37, 246–247, 252 (U.S.: Office of Management and Budget).
United States Census Bureau. n.d. Oklahoma—American Fact Finder. Available at: https://factfinder.census.gov/faces/nav/jsf/pages/community_facts.xhtml. Accessed 25 Apr 2018.
United States Census Bureau. 2010. Population, Housing Units, Area, Density: 2010—State—Place and Oklahoma County Subdivision 2010 Census Summary File 1. Available at: https://factfinder.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?src=bkmk. Accessed 25 Apr 2018.
United States Department of Justice. 2016. Complaint Unsealed Charging 19 Gang Members and Associates with Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute and Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine and Heroin. Available at: https://www.justice.gov/usao-wdok/pr/complaint-unsealed-charging-19-gang-members-and-associates-conspiracy-possess-intent. Accessed 30 Apr 2018.
Websdale, N. (1998). Rural Woman Battering and the Justice System: An Ethnography. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Weisheit, R.A. 2008. Making Methamphetamine. Southern Rural Sociology 23 (2): 78–107.
Weisheit, R.A., D.N. Falcone, and L.E. Wells. 1995. Crime and Policing in Rural and Small-town America: An Overview of the Issues. Washington DC: Department of Justice.
Weisheit, R.A., D.N. Falcone, and L.E. Wells. 2006. Crime and Policing in Rural and Small-town America. Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press.
Wooff, A. 2015. Relationships and Responses: Policing Anti-social Behavior in Rural Scotland. Journal of Rural Studies 39: 287–295.
Yarwood, R. 2005. Beyond the Rural Idyll: Image, Countryside Change and Geography. Geography 90 (1): 19–31.
Funding for this project was provided through grants by the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs at the University of Central Oklahoma (UCO). The authors would like to thank the UCO School of Criminal Justice and Center for Innovative Solutions for supporting the project. Thank you to Raediesha Wood and Carley Dancer for their assistance. The authors give special thanks to the law enforcement officials who took the time to educate researchers about their communities and crime problems. Thank you to the anonymous reviewers.
Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
About this article
Cite this article
Shukla, R.K., Stoneberg, D., Lockwood, K. et al. The interaction of crime & place: an exploratory study of crime & policing in non-metropolitan areas. Crime Prev Community Saf 21, 200–214 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1057/s41300-019-00072-8
- Law enforcement
- Rural crime
- Challenges in law enforcement