Welcome to The Rural Badge.
I created a Facebook Community page in January 2016, to fill a void, and a year later decided it was time to add a blog.
This came about after a frustrating conversation — one of many– with blue family from a city, when I finally realized we weren’t even talking about the same thing.
At least once a week since, readers have messaged the page privately to thank me for hearing, and seeing, and talking about *their* blue family: the one that’s invisible online and in the media.
I know you’re out there.
Rural policing has its own sets of issues, invisible ones that are hard to understand, if you haven’t been here.
Isolation isn’t visible.
Distance from medical care, or family, or schools can’t be seen.
Your spouse’s struggle to find employment because there simply may not be any, or there is little quality childcare available, isn’t on the radar, either.
Triple that if you need care overnight or on weekends. (Nurses, I’m looking at you.)
How do you explain to someone from a department of thousands that, no, not only have you never had a partner, but you don’t even really know everyone else in your department?
That, whenever you are off, everyone else–EVERYONE– is asleep, or at work?
There isn’t really briefing before a shift, it’s more like passing a baton.
So, no, you don’t meet for meals on shift, even if there were somewhere open.
And since no one has days off together, ever, our families don’t know each other, either.
The Thin Blue Line is really, really thin here.
If you’re talking to an officer who has never worked for a small, remote agency , how do you explain that your department may struggle to keep its POST certification, because even if OT is reimbursed when an officer is sent to training, it’s perfectly possible that there *is not* anyone to assign the extra shift?
How do you explain how very, very much you depend on a hodgepodge of individual officers from a dozen local, state and federal agencies for backup, and that even that may be an hour–or hours– away?
Or that your loved ones worry, not just that you might get hurt, but that you may not have radio or cell phone coverage to tell anyone where you are, or ask for help?
That even if you can call for help, the nearest trauma center can be hundreds of miles away?
As a writer, I’ve been told for decades “Show, don’t tell.”
So I made The Rural Badge.
Mayberry’s a myth.
This is real life, and we live it.
It’s not a competition with big city law enforcement. It’s a parallel universe that, just sometimes, intersects.