Date of Award

January 2014

Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Justice Studies

First Advisor

Kevin I. Minor

Department Affiliation

Justice Studies

Second Advisor

Kenneth D. Tunnell

Department Affiliation

Justice Studies

Third Advisor

Tyler Wall

Department Affiliation

Justice Studies


Research is lacking on rural and small-town policing in the post 9/11 era. This is unfortunate in view of changing perceptions of threat and insecurity, the financial crisis of 2008 and curtailments placed on funding for rural and small-town police agencies. This thesis argues that the proliferation of homeland security resources and priorities has significantly shaped rural and small-town policing in recent years. Rural and small-town law enforcement agencies, often lagging behind in resources and funding as compared to their urban counterparts, have embraced homeland security agendas, priorities and technologies as a means of securing their financial goals and abilities. By embracing homeland security ideologies, rural and small-town law enforcement agencies have, in essence, incorporated the priorities of an entity bent on preventing and responding to perceived threats to security, often through methods of increased security, surveillance and ubiquitous control of citizens. This development not only represents further abandonment of the traditional due process model, but also a transformation of the community-oriented policing ideology prevalent in the 80s and 90s to a citizen control model of policing. Citizen control policing essentially expands the traditional crime control model to encompass a broader conception of threat and risk, including terrorism, drug dealing, sexual deviance, natural disasters and perceived threats to security and social order generally. Additionally, traditional crime control tactics morph into technology-driven endeavors to monitor and control threats to established order.

By tracing the historical evolution of rural and small-town law enforcement, from their history of securing funding and resources through questionable and sometimes corrupt channels, to the federal government's increased efforts (epitomized by the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration) to promote professionalization and bureaucratization, this thesis examines the trend for rural and small-town law enforcement to "follow the money" in ensuring their resources and finances are secured, often at the price of altering their priorities, technologies and agendas. Various contemporary theoretical perspectives in criminology are employed to further examine how and why homeland security collaboration with rural and small-town law enforcement is essential to mutual growth and influence. Specifically, the criminal justice growth complex orientation used by Selman and Leighton (2010) to understand prison privatization is applied to the rural and small-town policing context. Theoretical understanding is also advanced by drawing upon the classical works of Ferdinand Tönnies concerning the shift from Gemeinschaft to Gesellschaft communities and of Max Weber on rationalization and bureaucratization. Finally, Gramsci's concept of hegemony is also used to explain the uncritical readiness with which rural and small-town communities have come to embrace this shift in spite of its potentially fatal flaws.