Militarization Fails to Enhance Police Safety or Reduce Crime but May Harm Police Reputation

Using a rare geocoded census of SWAT team deployments from Maryland, we show that militarized police units are more often deployed in communities with large shares of African American residents, even after controlling for local crime rates. Using nationwide panel data on local police militarization, we demonstrate that militarized policing fails to enhance officer safety or reduce local crime. Finally, using survey experiments – one of which includes a large oversample of African American respondents – we show that seeing militarized police in news reports may diminish police reputation in the mass public.