Date of Conferral
Public Policy and Administration
Christopher B. Jones
Following the issuance of the National Preparedness Guidelines in 2009 by the Department of Homeland Security, it remains unknown whether homeland security programs have been consistently implemented in the nation's rural areas. Research findings have been inconsistent and inconclusive on the degree of implementation. Two problems may result from inadequate implementation of these programs: weakened national security from the failure to protect critical infrastructure in remote areas and a threat to public safety in rural towns. The purpose of this qualitative case study was to explore and describe the reasons for possible noncompliance through purposeful interviews with 10 law enforcement officials and emergency managers in selected Midwestern rural towns. The study's theoretical foundation was based on Putnam's theory of social capital, which holds that community cohesion develops in direct relation to the adaptation of social networks that promote mutual cooperation during times of need. The research centered on the question of how rural emergency managers and law enforcement officials justified noncompliance with the National Preparedness Guidelines of 2009. The interviews and materials were transcribed and analyzed with qualitative analytic software using open, axial, and selective coding to identify themes and patterns. The study's key findings disconfirmed conclusions reported in previous studies and confirmed compliance with the Guidelines in the studied rural towns. Implications for positive social change include informing policymakers, emergency managers, law enforcement officials, and researchers. Application of social capital principles in all the nation's remote areas may enhance national security and improve rural public safety.