Texas highways are not and have never been strewn with homemade bombs. Yet Texas police have over 100 MRAPs, the armored vehicle with a blast-resistant hull that U.S. service members drove in Iraq and Afghanistan. Tennessee cops have 86 more. Ohio police have 43.
It’s just one measure of how militarized American policing has become since 9/11. And it’s a component of a larger one. Police across the country still operate Pentagon-provided equipment, including lethal hardware, worth $1.6 billion, according to a new study from Brown University’s Cost of War Project.
That number is an undercount—likely a substantial one—but it contains greater precision than the standard accounting for police acquisitions of surplus military equipment. The Rand Corporation recently tallied $775 million in such acquisitions between fiscal year 2015 and 2017 alone.