Militarization and Police Violence

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Is the increase in police use of force, as evidenced by the overall increase in police-induced killings of civilians, driven by militarization of law enforcement agencies (LEAs)? We argue that while there is a strong correlation between killings per capita and transfers of military equipment to LEAs, there may be broader time trends and differences across states that explain much of the variation. Furthermore, failing to account for these may lead to biased results. We estimate regressions to determine whether receiving transfers of military equipment lead to more police-induced killings of civilians, as well as whether larger transfers (in total value) are associated with more killings. We find that in fully-specified models that include state and time fixed effects, any evidence of a statistically significant and positive relation between the military transfers and police-induced killings of civilians disappears.