Rifle Police Chief, Daryl Meisner has lamented that “Rifle isn’t Mayberry anymore.” Many rural towns in Colorado are facing hard core crimes often with just a handful of officers who are in the early years of their careers. These law enforcement officers don’t only face barking dog complaints–hard drugs, sexual crimes and even gang activity have been seeping into Colorado’s smaller communities. In addition to facing crime, law enforcement departments are expected to contend with potential terrorist attacks, including Columbine School-type of calamities, and flu epidemics.
On Tuesday, Senator Ken Salazar helped introduce legislation to create a special, rural-focused law enforcement training institute to assist rural agencies in receiving cutting-edge training without sacrificing public safety.
From a press release, Sen. Salazar stated:
Most American law enforcement agencies serve rural communities and towns, like my hometown of Manassa in the San Luis Valley. In fact, of the nearly 17,000 police agencies nationwide, nine out of ten serve a population of fewer than 25,000 and operate with fewer than 50 sworn officers.
Yet Washington fails to recognize the crisis these law enforcement agencies face from the combination of decreased funding, increased homeland security responsibilities, and the scourge of methamphetamines.
By having a program where we can send instructors to these rural police departments, we maximize our training capabilities and ensure that these officers are able to receive on the job training without reducing manpower,” Isakson said. “This program is a win-win for our law enforcement personnel and the American taxpayer.”
Another benefit from this program will be the monetary savings to often cash-strapped rural law enforcement departments.