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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 Outdated military gear is transferred (at no cost) to state and local law enforcement agencies who go through the application process.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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Personal Finance

Visualizing How the Pandemic is Impacting American Wallets

57% of U.S. consumers’ incomes have taken a hit during the pandemic. How do such financial anxieties affect the ability to pay bills on time?

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A Snapshot of U.S. Personal Finances During the Pandemic

If you’ve felt that you’ve needed to penny-pinch more during the pandemic, you’re not alone.

In the past seven months, 42% of U.S. consumers have missed paying one or more bills, while over a third (39%) believe they will need to skip payments in the future.

This visualization breaks down the state of U.S. consumers’ personal finances during the COVID-19 era, and projects into future concerns around savings.

Pandemic Personal Finances: Key Takeaways

Based on data from the doxoINSIGHTS Bills Pay Impact Report across 1,568 sampled households, three themes emerge:

  • 57% of consumers’ incomes have taken a hit in the past seven months
  • 70% have delayed discretionary spending on big purchases
  • 75% continue to be very worried about their future financial health

How do these anxieties translate into day-to-day consequences?

Pandemic Postpones Bill Payments

Unsurprisingly, worrying about personal finances also means that more Americans are deferring their bill payments during the pandemic. However, these vary depending on the type of bill, total amount, and immediate urgency.

Over a quarter (27%) of U.S. consumers report having missed a bill on their auto loans, followed by 26% for utilities and 25% on cable or internet costs.

The average cost of the above three bill types is $258—but that’s still a fraction of the two most expensive bills, mortgage or rent, which come in at $1,268 and $1,023 respectively.

Bill Type$ Value% Missed
Auto loans$37427%
Utilities$29026%
Cable/ Internet$11025%
Rent$1,02320%
Mobile phone$8819%
Mortgage$1,26817%
Alarm/ Security$7617%
Auto insurance$18115%
Dental insurance$2514%
Life insurance$7613%
Health insurance$9410%

Prioritizing Payments

While 20% of Americans say they’ve missed a rent payment over the past few months, what’s even more alarming is that 28% of U.S. consumers believe they will most likely skip paying rent in the future.

Bill Type% Likely to Skip in Future
Cable/  Internet29%
Utilities28%
Rent28%
Auto loans26%
Mobile phone26%
Mortgage21%
Auto insurance21%
Alarm/ Security19%
Dental insurance16%
Life insurance17%
Health insurance15%

Another clear trend is that many Americans are prioritizing insurance payments, particularly health insurance. This is good news during a global pandemic—only 10% have missed paying this bill type, although 15% expect to skip it in the coming months.

According to the report, some U.S. consumers seem to prioritize the bill types which come with strings attached, from late-payment penalties to accrued interest.

While missing a single payment might seem harmless, a pattern of missed payments over time have the potential to negatively impact your credit score.

Enough Savings To Stay Afloat?

Finally, Americans are wary about how much they have stashed away in the bank to weather the tumultuous months ahead.

While unemployment figures are recovering from historic troughs, the fear of losing one’s job remains prevalent. How many months’ worth of savings do U.S. consumers think they have if this were to happen?

# Months % Responses
7+ months 💰💰💰💰💰💰💰23%
4-6 months 💰💰💰💰💰💰15%
1-3 months 💰💰💰27%
<1 month 💰35%

No one knows how long the COVID-19 chaos will last. In order to adapt to this economic uncertainty, consumer priorities are shifting along with their tightened budgets.

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Real Estate

Charting 20 Years of Home Price Changes in Every U.S. City

This interactive visualization tracks two decades of home price changes in hundreds of cities in the United States.

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At the turn of the century, the average U.S. home value was $126,000. Today, that figure is at a record high $259,000 – a 106% increase in just two decades.

Of course, the path from A to B was anything but linear with a financial crisis, housing bubbles in major cities, and now COVID-19, which is drastically altering market dynamics.

How has the housing market evolved, on a city-by-city basis?

Two Decades of Housing Prices

The interactive visual below – created by Avison Young Global, using data from Zillow – is a comprehensive look at U.S. home price data over the past two decades.

Editor’s note: Click the circles at the top of the visualization to see other versions of the data, including price changes at the state and zip code level.

The Lay of the Land

A number of things become apparent when looking at historical data of hundreds of U.S. cities.

First, the trajectory of home prices is defined by the 2008 Financial Crisis. After prices took a steep dive, it took a full decade for the average home price to rise back up to the 2007 peak.

Next, broadly speaking, the U.S. average is being “pulled up” by the hottest regional markets. The majority of housing markets have seen between a 50% and 100% increase in price over the past 20 years. This is also true at the state level, where booming markets such as Hawaii saw price increases double the U.S. average.

Going West

The West Coast has seen dramatic home price appreciation in over the last two decades, a trend that permeated the entire region. Every single city tracked in this database beat the U.S. average.

West coast prices

California and Hawaii saw the biggest gains, with a number of cities ending up with a 200%+ increase over prices in 2000.

The biggest gains in the entire country over the time period was Madera, California, which is located just north of Fresno. The nearby cities of San Jose and San Francisco rose by an impressive 235% and 219%, respectively. As a practical example – during the meteoric rise of Silicon Valley, average prices in San Francisco shot up from $364,000 to $1.12 million.

Even the bottom city (Yakima, Washington) on the left coast saw an increase of 114%.

Slower Home Price Changes

In general, cities located in America’s “Rust Belt” states saw slower home price growth. In fact, every city in these five states saw price growth below the U.S. average.

Of the top 20 U.S. metros, Detroit and Chicago saw the slowest price growth over the past two decades. Flint, Michigan, was the only city in the country to see a price decline.

At the state level, Illinois, Michigan, and Ohio were the bottom three in terms of home price appreciation.

A Useful Barometer

Looking at country or state level data fails to capture the incredible nuance of home values around the country.

That said, since the value of a primary residence makes a significant portion of wealth for most Americans, these price movements serve as a useful barometer of the health of the real estate market, and the economy as a whole.

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