Abstract

American policing evolved from a British policing model and developed first in urban
cities across the United States. The problem was a lack of information on rural police
culture (RPC). This research question sought to reveal RPC. This non-experimental
qualitative grounded theory study explored 20 rural police departments in Montana,
North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming to determine if rural police culture was
separate and distinct from what was found in the literature on urban police culture. The
purpose of this study was to describe rural police culture (RPC) to create a better
understanding of rural police. Thirty-nine interviews were conducted using a snowball
method and using the Strauss and Corbin approach to Grounded theory by validation
through a systematic method. The central research question what common themes
developed and what theory was discovered that helped describe the genetic makeup of
RPC? A five-part model developed by the researcher was the vessel that helped establish
the genetic makeup of rural police culture as a composite of social, psychological,
physical, internal, and external influences. The central research question generated 271
categories and 274 subcategories for a total of 545 categories and subcategories. A two-
stage checks-and-balances procedure ensured reliability. First, in the presumptive stage
data were collected through open and axial coding analysis and coding to develop
selective data. The data analysis resulted in 21 primary themes, 30 secondary themes, and
54 tertiary themes. Second, in the confirmatory stage, the selective data results were
coded into data files and verified by highlighting repetitive content using a color-coding
traffic light system. The result indicated RPC theory emerged as distinct from urban
police and was later described using the five-part model. The significance of this study
was to improve understanding of RPC so effective training can be developed for rural
police.