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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 Outdated military gear is transferred (at no cost) to state and local law enforcement agencies who go through the application process.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
South Carolina$74,315,198$14.43
North Carolina$48,778,465$4.65
New Jersey$45,730,823$5.15
New York$33,808,332$1.74
New Mexico$20,892,590$9.96
West Virginia$14,019,400$7.82
North Dakota$11,249,990$14.76
South Dakota$6,662,921$7.53
New Hampshire$4,389,536$3.23
Rhode Island$1,768,124$1.67

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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Visualizing the Most Sought-After Entry Level Jobs in 2023

Some jobs need a degree, while others don’t. Here are the top 20 most sought-after entry level jobs with and without a degree.



most sought after jobs

The Most Sought-After Entry Level Jobs of 2023

In the fast-paced realm of job hunting, staying ahead of the curve is crucial. And if you are an entry-level job applicant, the pressure is a notch higher.

New entrants in any job market today compete with groundbreaking technology like ChatGPT in addition to their peers. In the United States, these applicants have to also wade through an uncertain labor market, inflation, and long lists of job requirements. has identified the most sought-after entry level positions for applicants both with and without a degree in the U.S., and the year-on-year growth of these job postings.

Most Sought-After Entry-Level Jobs With a Degree

As the U.S. job market recovers from its pandemic slump, some careers are now booming. This in turn has opened up numerous opportunities for entry-level job applicants.

RankJob TitleAverage Annual SalaryChange in Postings
1Outside Sales Representative$60,000+258%
2Transportation Coordinator$47,500+227%
3Quality Auditor$84,500+131%
5Tax Preparer$67,500+123%
6Loan Processor$55,000+100%
7Retention Specialist$50,000+100%
8Network Operations Technician$85,500+94%
9Mental Health Manager$42,000+93%
10Speech-Language Pathologist$60,000+84%
11Geotechnical Engineer$65,000+80%
12Patient Access Manager$90,000+77%
13HR Coordinator$67,500+75%
14Lead Generation Specialist$62,500+73%
15Design Coordinator$55,000+73%
16Pharmaceutical Sales Representative$74,378+71%
17Behavioral Therapist$50,000+68%
18Special Events Coordinator$54,000+67%
19IT Engineer$92,500+67%
20Structural Engineer$90,000+63%

The demand for sales jobs multiplied this year as customer-facing businesses slowly returned to their pre-pandemic levels.

At the top of this list is the job for an Outside Sales Representative. Paying upwards of $60,000, postings for this job have grown by over 250% in a year, making it the most sought-after position for applicants with a degree.

The healthcare industry has secured its place in the top ranks too. Careers including mental health case managers, speech pathologists, behavioral therapists, and patient access managers dominate the Top 20 list.

Let’s not forget about the tech sector. While entry-level network technicians can earn upwards of $85,000 on average, while IT engineers are paid an entry package of over $90,000.

Most Sought-After Entry-Level Jobs Without a Degree

Nearly 65% of the U.S. working population does not have a four-year degree. However, millions of these workers continue to be highly skilled across professions and have a shot at some of the most sought-after entry level jobs in the country.

RankJob TitleAverage Annual SalaryChange in Postings
1Inventory Manager$59,000+189%
2Auto Body Technician$82,500+100%
3Environmental Health and Safety Specialist$65,000+100%
4Salon Manager$41,000+95%
5Drafting Technician$50,000+94%
6Business Analyst$72,500+82%
7Sheet Metal Mechanic$62,140+67%
8Aircraft Maintenance Technician$57,500+64%
9Catering Manager$47,500+56%
10Transportation/Logistics Coordinator$62,500+53%
11Route Sales Representative$50,000+51%
12Rental Agent$45,520+50%
13Distribution Center Coordinator$52,500+47%
14General Maintenance Technician$40,650+46%
15Patient Care Coordinator$43,152+44%
16Forestry Technician$45,760+43%
17Relationship Banker$43,576+43%
18Field Sales Representative$57,018+42%
19Park Ranger$45,912+42%
20Warehouse Receiver$45,000+39%

One example of this job is that of an Inventory Manager. The demand for skilled inventory managers in warehouses and companies post-pandemic has doubled the position’s job share in a year.

One of the highest paying non-degree jobs in this list—Auto Body Technician—can fetch highly-skilled entry-level workers a salary of $82,000 per year.

These jobs don’t seem to require a degree according to Indeed. However, the rising competition for these positions might give the upper edge to applicants with one, especially for jobs on the list such as Business Analyst and Relationship Banker.

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