Examining Patterns of Police Militarization: Findings from the 1033 Program

Ellen Dinsmore, University of Wisconsin-Madison

The culmination of US military operations overseas has coincided with the increasing visibility of the armed forces at home. The Department of Defense’s (DOD) 1033 program transfers surplus tactical equipment to state and local law enforcement agencies, primarily for drug enforcement and counter-terrorism purposes. However, despite concerns about the implications of increasingly militarized police forces, little is known about the factors that account for the increasing acquisition of tactical equipment by law enforcement. Using a combination of data from the US Departments of Defense and Justice, I examine predictors of military equipment acquisition by local police agencies under the 1033 initiative. In particular, I focus on characteristics of the local law enforcement agencies themselves and demographic change in the communities they serve, as well as their spatial proximity to agencies that have already acquired equipment. This analysis provides important insight on the factors that contribute to police militarization.

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 Presented in Session P2. Data and Methods/Applied Demography/ Spatial Demography/ Demography of Crime