Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $2,563,407)
Rural areas make up 72 percent of the US land area and approximately 20 percent of the population. Despite being perceived as wholesome and overwhelmingly safe communities, recent data confirms that violent crime remains problematic in rural places. Small communities in some states are getting more dangerous than they have ever been. Drug and alcohol use further exacerbate problems associated with violent crime, as exhibited by the impacts of the opioid epidemic on many rural communities.
With violent crime on the rise in rural communities, one of the primary challenges law enforcement agencies continue to face is a lack of available resources. Limited staffing, jail space, technology, equipment, and overall resources have hampered attempts to address unique challenges, reduce crime, and create safer communities. A decreasing tax base and expansive geographic territory make violent crimes more fatal in rural settings than in urban areas also impacts attempts to reduce violent crimes in rural communities.
While federal resources have been made increasingly available to rural agencies, many rural law enforcement leaders lack the resources and awareness needed to successfully apply for, and manage, federal funding. Therefore, as the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) opens funding specifically to serve 55 small and rural agencies, there is a tremendous need for an experienced national training and technical assistance (TTA) provider that understands the needs and challenges of rural law enforcement agencies. In addition, the TTA provider would aid in improving investigations, implementing violence prevention strategies, enhancing collaboration between relevant local stakeholders, and supporting agencies as they navigate the parameters of being a federal grantee, potentially for the first time. The Police Foundation (PF) and the Small & Rural Law Enforcement Executives Association (SRLEEA) will achieve these goals by partnering to form the Rural Violent Crime Reduction Training and Technical Assistance (RTTAC) team. The RTTAC team will bring together an unparalleled blend of experience in improving investigations to reduce violent crime, expertise in providing high-quality TTA on a national scale, research expertise, and experience tailoring evidence-based practices to individual agencies and communities, with a tremendous depth of knowledge of the challenges facing small, rural, and tribal law enforcement agencies. The RTTAC team will provide needed TTA by guiding the use of technology, supporting the expansion of community-based crime prevention programs, strengthening partnerships with victim service providers and other community and government stakeholders, and assisting agencies in meeting their strategic goals.