Kenneth Lowande, University of Michigan
"Police (De)Militarization, Bureaucratic Compliance, and Violent Crime"
Abstract: The transfer of $5 billion in military equipment to local law enforcement agencies is among the most important recent developments in contemporary American governance. Yet, those transfers and their effects are not well understood by social scientists, and subject to contradictory claims by policymakers. We leverage recent policy changes in the 1033 program to evaluate these claims. After congressional criticism of the program in 2015, the Obama administration recalled property under Executive Order 13688. The order was then reversed by the Trump administration in 2017. We provide evidence that the inclusion of relevant stakeholders by the Obama administration led to near-complete compliance with the order by local agencies. In contrast, the unilateral reversal of this order did not result in the redistribution of banned equipment. The timing and durability of these changes allows us to estimate the impact of demilitarization on operational outcomes for affected law enforcement agencies.
This talk is free and open to the public.
The American Politics Speaker Series (APSS) invites speakers from outside Harvard to present research in American politics. Sponsored by the Center for American Political Studies, the Harvard Department of Government, and Harvard Kennedy School, the series is co-organized by Profs. Jon Rogowski, Ben Schneer, and Maya Sen.