Translating Crime Reduction Best and Emerging Practices for Small and Rural Agencies

Translating Crime Reduction Best and Emerging Practices for Small and Rural Agencies

The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office), and Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy (CEBCP) at George Mason University partnered to gather, evaluate, translate, and recommend best and emerging crime reduction practices for small, rural, and tribal law enforcement agencies.

Project Description

Often small and rural police agencies do not have access to the same level of support, resources, and training opportunities as their larger, urban peers. These constraints can have a real impact on an agency's ability to identify and implement best practices for effectively reducing crime in their smaller or more rural jurisdictions. Most research focuses on police strategies and training programs for large, urban agencies, meaning that small, rural, and tribal agencies have difficulty accessing training and resources that address the specific challenges and needs of their communities. 

Collaborating with the COPS Office and George Mason University's CEBCP, IACP is committed to supporting small, rural, and tribal police leaders and agencies by: 

  • Identifying evidence-based and emerging practices in crime reduction,
  • Providing resources to translate best and emerging practices into actionable strategies, and
  • Promoting the identified best and emerging practices to a broad audience of small, rural, and tribal law enforcement leaders. 

Though small, rural, and tribal agencies face certain challenges, they possess unique benefits and strengths compared to their large, urban counterparts. Many small and rural agencies are highly effective at crime response and maintain higher clearance rates for property and violent crime than urban agencies due to their close relationships with the community. Officers in small, rural, and tribal agencies develop a variety of skills that larger agencies devote specific units to, such as narcotics, school resource officers, and other specialized roles. Officers in these agencies often fulfill many roles as needed within their communities. Further, small and rural departments are highly flexible and adaptable, particularly in balancing their formal and informal responses to crime, due to their close ties to their communities. These three benefits can enhance departments' adoption and implementation of effective crime reduction strategies. 

Strategies for Small, Rural, and Tribal Agencies

Taking advantage of these strengths, IACP, COPS, and CEBCP have collected evidence-based and emerging practices in crime reduction, including practices that have specifically been identified as particularly effective for small, rural, and tribal agencies, and developed resources outlining how to adapt them into actionable strategies. Some examples are:

  • Hot spots policing to reduce traffic accidents, fatal crashes, driving under the influence offenses, and property crimes. 
  • Community police engagement to improve communications and relationships between law enforcement and the public through social media. 
  • Problem-oriented policing strategies to address repeat offenders and the opioid epidemic. 

Project Outcomes

  • Conducted a literature review of crime reduction strategies for small, rural, and tribal departments on contemporary, comprehensive, and emerging evidenced-based and best practices.
  • Facilitated focus groups with various small, rural, and tribal police leaders to better understand the unique and nuanced goals, strengths, and challenges of these departments and their communities. 
  • Developed a guidebook with information on crime reduction and public safety strategies tailored specifically to small, rural, and tribal agencies’ needs.
  • Created an online training course on place-based (e.g., hot spots, crime displacement, places and drug crime, "boomtown" crime, and property crime) policing considerations and promising practices that is accessible and applicable to small, rural, and tribal police agencies.

This project was supported, in whole or in part, by federal award number 2019CKWXK010 awarded to the International Association of Chiefs of Police by the U.S. Department of Justice., Office of Community Oriented Policing Services. The opinions contained herein are those of the author(s) or contributor(s) and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice. References to specific individuals, agencies, companies, products, or services should not be considered an endorsement by the author(s), contributors, or the U.S. Department of Justice. Rather, the references are illustrations to supplement discussion of the issues.


The Internet references cited in this publication were valid as of the date of this publication. Given that URLs and websites are in constant flux, neither the author(s) nor the COPS Office can vouch for their current validity.

Scroll to preview content. Please sign in to read and get access to more member only content.

IACP - Loader Animation IACP - Loader Animation IACP - Loader Animation