Charting the $1.7B Transfer of Military Equipment to Police Departments - Visual Capitalist
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Charting the $1.7B Transfer of Military Equipment to Police Departments

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transfer of military equipment to police departments 1033 program

Charting the $1.7B Transfer of Military Equipment to Police Departments

View the full-size version of this infographic.

In the wake of countrywide protests surrounding the killing of George Floyd, questions around the militarization of police forces have taken center stage once again.

How did so many police departments across the United States end up with bomb-proof trucks and night vision goggles? Where are departments acquiring this equipment, and at what cost?

These questions and more are answered by data from the Defense Logistics Agency, which oversees the 1033 Program. The visualization above tracks the flow of military equipment to law enforcement over the past decade.

A note on the data: Much of the equipment acquired through the program is already used – and often obsolete by military standards. As well, the 1033 dataset captures shipments of equipment. Over time, items can be transferred between departments, meaning these official records may be less reflective of specific police department inventories as time goes on. For these reasons, we decided to cap our analysis to looking at the last decade (2010-2020) of transfers.

Free Military Surplus for Law Enforcement

The 1033 Program was conceived in the years following Operation Desert Storm, just as America’s violent crime rate was hitting an all-time high. During this era, America’s “war on drugs” and tough-on-crime political platforms provided the impetus for the militarization of police forces around the country.

The 1033 program has been likened to Craigslist’s “Free Stuff” section, and the comparison is apt. The mechanics of the program are relatively straightforward. Outdated military gear is transferred (at no cost) to state and local law enforcement agencies who go through the application process. The equipment is loaned to agencies, who are only responsible only for shipping and subsequent operating costs (e.g. fuel, spare parts).

Law enforcement agencies gain access to a vast array of military surplus, from office supplies and thermal underwear up to armored vehicles and multi-million dollar communications systems. Also included in the mix are medical supplies and gear to aid in search and rescue operations. Since the program’s inception, over $7.4 billion worth of property has been transferred.

military equipment 1033 program

One of the most popular items acquired by police departments is the Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle, or MRAP. Over the past decade, over 1,000 of these vehicles were transferred from the military to law enforcement agencies. This includes places like Monett, Missouri (population 9,000), which is on record as receiving two MRAP vehicles.

Night vision equipment is extremely popular as well. Items like goggles, scopes, and surveillance equipment – which can run thousands of dollars per unit – have been shipped to police departments around the country.

Of course, military surplus isn’t just about fancy vehicles and weaponry. The Meade County Sheriff’s Office in Kentucky is on record for ordering a single box of toilet paper just as COVID-19 was on the rise in that state.

Shipments at the State Level

Since the army is willing to part with excess equipment, cash-strapped police departments are happy to oblige. More than $1.7 billion of surplus has been transferred over to police around the country over the past decade.

The two biggest spenders, California and Texas, combined to acquire a total of $271 million in equipment, but looking at things on a per capita basis helps to show the states that were most enthusiastic about the 1033 Program in more relative terms.

StateValue of equipment (2010-2020)Value of equipment per capita
Texas$141,519,366$4.88
California$130,221,309$3.30
Tennessee$130,062,523$19.05
Florida$95,179,044$4.43
Arizona$91,577,274$12.58
Alabama$82,629,461$16.85
South Carolina$74,315,198$14.43
Ohio$65,049,414$5.56
Georgia$57,636,601$5.43
Michigan$49,757,677$4.98
North Carolina$48,778,465$4.65
Minnesota$46,840,016$8.31
New Jersey$45,730,823$5.15
Wisconsin$44,408,319$7.63
Indiana$41,078,563$6.10
Illinois$40,532,438$3.20
Washington$35,296,239$4.64
New York$33,808,332$1.74
Kentucky$33,648,076$7.53
Arkansas$33,138,525$10.98
Missouri$29,162,261$4.75
Colorado$28,141,088$4.89
Oklahoma$27,580,744$6.97
Louisiana$25,268,136$5.44
Virginia$24,028,710$2.82
Pennsylvania$21,466,651$1.68
Nevada$21,232,353$6.89
New Mexico$20,892,590$9.96
Connecticut$20,493,905$5.75
Oregon$19,677,189$4.67
Mississippi$16,027,579$5.39
West Virginia$14,019,400$7.82
Iowa$12,721,978$4.03
North Dakota$11,249,990$14.76
Idaho$11,219,248$6.28
Utah$10,468,929$3.27
Maine$9,368,898$6.97
Massachusetts$7,586,232$1.10
Maryland$6,921,747$1.14
South Dakota$6,662,921$7.53
Nebraska$6,477,687$3.35
Kansas$4,481,543$1.54
New Hampshire$4,389,536$3.23
Wyoming$4,092,509$7.07
Montana$3,205,688$3.00
Delaware$2,704,611$2.78
Alaska$2,376,079$3.25
Rhode Island$1,768,124$1.67
Vermont$1,622,536$2.60

Tennessee had by far the highest spending considering its population, with police departments in the state acquiring $20 worth of equipment per person. With the exception of Arizona, all the states that rank highly in that metric have per capita police spending that sits well below the U.S. average.

On the flip side, New York came in at a fraction of that amount, acquiring only $1.74 worth of equipment for every person in the state. Of course, it’s worth noting that New York had the highest police expenditure in the country (after Washington DC).

Who got the Goods?

Not surprisingly, state-level law enforcement agencies topped the list. For example, the Arizona Department of Public Safety received multiple airplanes valued at $17 million per unit. California’s highway patrol received the most expensive single item on the list – a $22 million aircraft.

For a more local perspective, here’s a look at the top 20 police departments by value of military equipment acquired:

Law Enforcement Agency (Exc. state)StateValue of Equipment Acquired
Houston Police DepartmentTX$11,682,951
Las Vegas Metro Police DepartmentNV$8,995,931
Washington County Sheriff's OfficeTN$7,501,075
Columbus Division of PoliceOH$6,885,949
Ventura County Sheriff's OfficeCA$6,605,678
Columbus County Sheriff's OfficeNC$6,596,927
Sacramento County Sheriff's DepartmentCA$6,142,009
Santa Barbara County Sheriff's OfficeCA$5,902,198
Hocking County Sheriff's OfficeOH$5,865,008
Jackson Police DepartmentMS$5,823,634
Orange County Sheriff's DepartmentCA$5,802,758
Lawrenceburg Police DepartmentTN$5,543,166
Sherburne County Sheriff's OfficeMN$5,194,238
Kirklin Police DepartmentIN$5,014,748
Los Angeles Country Sheriff's DepartmentCA$4,840,970
King Country Sheriff's DepartmentWA$4,618,686
Pinal Country Sheriff's DepartmentAZ$4,305,849
Martin County Sheriff's OfficeFL$4,179,645
Kane County Sheriff's OfficeIL$4,006,465
Cottage Grove Police DepartmentMN$3,941,606

On its own, Houston police department received as much as the bottom five states combined. Nearly 400 other police departments also broke the $1 million barrier, and over 2,026 departments around the country received over $100,000 in goods.

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Real Estate

The Average Lot Size in Every U.S. State in 2022

Lot sizes in the U.S. are shrinking compared to a few decades ago. Here’s a look at the average lot size in every U.S. state.

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Comparing average lot sizes in every U.S. state

The Average Lot Size in Every U.S. State in 2022

The “American Dream” is often associated with imagery of spacious estates adorned with white picket fences, wrap-around porches, and sprawling green lawns that seem to go on forever.

But in reality, modern American life has become much more compact. Over the last few decades, the average lot size in the U.S. has decreased significantly—from 18,760 square feet in 1978 to 13,896 in 2020.

While average lot sizes are getting smaller overall, there are still large discrepancies in lot sizes from state to state. This graphic by Angi uses data from the 2022 U.S. Lot Size Index to show the average lot size in every U.S. State, using data from 312,456 Zillow listings as of May 2022.

Largest and Smallest Average Lot Sizes by State

When it comes to the states with the largest plots of land, New England dominates the ranking, with Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine at the top of the list.

RankStateMedian lot size (sq.ft.)
1Vermont78,408
2New Hampshire49,223
3Maine45,738
4Montana43,560
5Alaska42,423
6Mississippi31,799
7Connecticut30,928
8Arkansas24,829
9Tennessee24,394
10Georgia22,215

New England was one of the first regions settled by the Europeans in Colonial America. This long history, along with a large rural population, could explain why the area has strict zoning policies that limit density and require large minimum lot sizes for new builds.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Nevada ranks as the state with the smallest average lot size:

RankStateMedian lot size (sq.ft.)
1Nevada7,405
2California8,327
3Arizona8,726
4Illinois9,025
5Texas9,540
6Colorado10,019
7Florida10,019
8North Dakota10,019
9New Jersey10,019
10Ohio10,019

One possible explanation is that Nevada’s population boom—and subsequent development—is relatively recent. Newer homes listed in the dataset tend to have smaller lot sizes, and in Nevada, 34.6% of homes included in the research were built in 2000 or later.

Comparing Lot Size to Land Price

Generally speaking, the states with the biggest lots also tend to have the cheapest land when broken down per square foot. For instance, in Vermont, properties sold for an average of about $5.95 per square foot.

comparing average lot sizes in the U.S. to price

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On the flip side, in Nevada, land sold for an average of $82.80 per square foot—that’s the third most expensive of any state.

Of course, other factors are at play here when it comes to the cost of land. Like anything else that’s for sale, the price of a lot is governed largely by the laws of supply and demand.

For example, housing supply is scarce in Hawaii, where only 4.9% of the land is zoned for residential development, and the average home size is much smaller than in other parts of the country. Not surprisingly, the average plot of land in Hawaii costs $110.86 per square foot, the most expensive on the list.

The Future of Housing in America

Average lot sizes remain relatively large in some states for now, but as the U.S. population continues to become more urbanized, living conditions in America could get even tighter.

Will America hold onto its spacious way of living, or could life in the U.S. start to resemble more densely populated regions in the future?

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Real Estate

The Average Home Size in Every U.S. State in 2022

Over the last century, the average home size in the U.S. has skyrocketed. Here’s a look at which states have the biggest and smallest homes.

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average home size in every U.S. state

The Average Home Size in Every U.S. State in 2022

Over the last century, the average home size in the U.S. has skyrocketed. In 1949, the typical single-family home was just 909 square feet—by 2021, it had shot up to 2,480 square feet.

While U.S. homes are getting larger on the whole, they still vary drastically depending on the location. What areas in the U.S. have the largest homes, and which ones have the smallest?

This graphic by American Home Shield uses data from the 2022 American Home Size Index to show the average home size in every U.S. state.

The 2022 American Home Size Index

The index uses data from 474,157 listings of both houses and condos for sale on Zillow as of May 2022. After the data was compiled, it was organized by state and city, and the median home size was then calculated for each area.

According to the findings, there was a strong correlation with the average size of a home and the age of the area’s housing stock. For instance, Utah is the U.S. state with the largest average home size, with an average of 2,800 square feet. And since the state’s average home was built in 1989, it has the third-youngest home stock of any state across the country.

This trend is apparent on a city-level as well. Here’s a look at average home size across America’s top 50 most populated cities (with available data):

Average home size in 50 U.S. cities

As the graphic shows, up-and-coming tech hubs like Raleigh and Colorado Springs have some of the largest homes.

Colorado Springs in particular has seen a significant influx in employment over the last few years, which has attracted high-income tech workers to the area driven up demand for spacious single-family dwellings.

The Price of Real Estate Compared to Average Home Size

The data also showed a relationship between an area’s average price of real estate and the average home size. For instance, Hawaii has the smallest average home size of any state, as well as the most expensive at $743.86 per square foot.

comparing home prices in every U.S. state

This trend is apparent in the state of New York as well, which had the second smallest average home size. New York’s average home costs were $421.49 per square foot, the third-most expensive of any state.

Lot Size vs. Home Size

Interestingly, while average home sizes in the U.S. have gotten larger over time, the average lot size has shrunk over the years.

In 1978, the average lot size for a U.S. property was 18,760 square feet, but by 2020, this figure had dropped to a record low of 13,896 square feet.

With lot sizes shrinking, will there come a point where home size growth across the country starts to plateau, or even shrink?

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