Mavridis C., Troumpounis O., Zanardi M. (2021).
Police militarization and local elections. School of Economics Discussion Papers, 2, 21.
US local law enforcement agencies have been receiving substantial military equipment through the “1033 Program” during the last decades. Sheriffs, one of the agencies requesting such transfers, are directly accountable to voters for their actions, so one may wonder: how do military equipment transfers in a given county affect the re-election prospects of the county’s sheriff? We construct a unique dataset on local electoral races covering 6,218 sheriff elections in 2,381 counties between 2006 and 2016 and reveal the causal effect of military transfers on sheriffs’ re-election probabilities: an increase in military transfers in a given county (from none to the median value) results in an increase in the probability the county’s sheriff is re-elected (by 3.6 to 9.9 percentage points). This result explains sheriffs’ strong support for the “1033 Program” and suggests that the image of a “tough” sheriff in town seems to be rewarded, overall providing fresh evidence on voters’ responsiveness in local office elections.