Since 1990, law enforcement agencies in the U.S. have been acquiring military gear from the federal government through the 1033 Program, run by the Defense Logistics Agency. The type of property ranges from military-specific equipment and vehicles, such as machine guns, bomb disposal robots and mine-resistant ambush protected vehicles (MRAPs) to generic office furniture, computers, medical items and shop equipment.
According to the Institute for Transparent Policing, as of July 30, 2020, one in three local law enforcement agencies have military gear from the 1033 program.
The equipment has done more harm than good, writes Casey Delehanty, an assistant professor of Global Studies at Gardner-Webb University and a scholar of police militarization. Militarization of police doesn’t reduce crime or improve officer safety, Delhanty says -- but it does make civilians less trusting of the police.
Additionally, some say that police recruitment videos showing SWAT raids and the use of military equipment attract potential candidates who are more excited about using military equipment against “bad guys” than helping their local communities.
Proponents of police militarization argue that an increase of gangs and cartels has resulted in the use of more sophisticated and deadly weapons by criminals, necessitating more heavily armed officers, but the argument is unsubstantiated, Jeremiah Mosteller wrote for the Charles Koch Institute. Mosteller is a senior policy analyst of criminal justice reform at Americans for Prosperity.
To see which states have gotten the most military equipment for police, Visual Capitalist used the data from the Defense Logistics Agency to track the flow of military equipment to law enforcement over the period of 2010 to 2020. In that decade, $1.7 billion of military equipment was transferred to police departments, according to Visual Capitalist. A large chunk of that amount was MRAP vehicles, to the tune of $744 million worth.
Here are the states that received the most military equipment, by dollar value. We also noted the five states that received the most equipment per capita.