RURAL RETREAT, Va. -

When it comes to police work, there's always safety in numbers, but some communities don't have the money to hire a whole police force.

Scott Mitchell has been the police chief in Rural Retreat since 2008. He's it. There's no one else. Mitchell's the chief, sometimes chauffeur, even a part-time plumber.

"And there's a water leak somewhere, I have to go in and shut the water off,” Mitchell said. “Sometimes I answer the phone up there and people want to know about other things going on in town that aren't law enforcement, I'll tell them what I know anyway."

Nationwide, there are some 3,000 ''one-man'' police departments and Rural Retreat is one of them. The town is made up of four square miles, nearly 1,500 residents, and one stop light.

Chief Mitchell served in the Army. He is the sworn peace officer in a town often compared to Mayberry.

Mayor Tim Litz likes it that way. "One of the best things that anybody could ever do was tell us we're like Mayberry is really you have complimented us more than anything in the world," Litz said.

Chief Mitchell took us to Lloyd's Barber Shop, where he rented a room upstairs when he was younger and a little thinner. Today, he jokes about the town's low crime rate.

"If it was more than one it was a crime wave or something like that. A jaywalker was a crime. Two was a crime wave and three jaywalkers is organized crime."

There really is a sense of small-town America here. Serious crimes like murder and sexual assaults are rare; it’s more like speeding and running red lights around here.

Being a one-cop shop, Mitchell relies heavily on the Wythe County Sheriff's Office and state police for backup, part of a mutual aid agreement.

The chief says nearly every day he drives through town looking for things that just don't feel right.

Alone in his 2008 Crown Victoria with 86,000 miles, Mitchell says daily, he prays for his town and his own safety.

"When I stop a vehicle I don't know lots of times, I may not know who that person is behind the wheel,” Mitchell said.

What Chief Mitchell says next is what every police officer fears when pulling someone over.

"For all I know, he killed someone down the road in Tennessee. He thinks that I know he's done that, so 'Hey police have got me, I'm going to shoot it out with them.’ But maybe all I'm doing is stopping them for a taillight out," Mitchell said.

Data shows burglary may be the most common crime in Rural Retreat. Mitchell says it's been 30 years since his town has seen anything truly violent.

Inside the barber shop, friends say if the chief needs help, he's got it.

The Department of Justice claims more than 900,000 sworn officers serve nationwide. Like most professions, many cops are looking for bigger and maybe better paying jobs.

Not Chief Mitchell.

"This job right here I know I'm helping my community. The people I grew up with, the people I've known my whole life. I'm here to help them,” Mitchell said.