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Police Officer on the Frontline or a Soldier? The Effect of Police Militarization on Crime

Vincenzo Bove and Evelina Gavrilova

American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, 2017, vol. 9, issue 3, 1-18

Abstract: Sparked by high-profile confrontations between police and citizens in Ferguson, Missouri, and elsewhere, many commentators have criticized the excessive militarization of law enforcement. We investigate whether surplus military-grade equipment acquired by local police departments from the Pentagon has an effect on crime rates. We use temporal variations in US military expenditure and between-counties variation in the odds of receiving a positive amount of military aid to identify the causal effect of militarized policing on crime. We find that (i) military aid reduces street-level crime; (ii) the program is cost-effective; and (iii) there is evidence in favor of a deterrence mechanism.

JEL-codes: H56 H76 K42 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
Note: DOI: 10.1257/pol.20150478
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