24 May Examine and critique the peer-reviewed article attached in weekly reading,?Assessing the Direct and Indirect Effects of Legitimacy on Public Empo
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Examine and critique the peer-reviewed article attached in weekly reading, Assessing the Direct and Indirect Effects of Legitimacy on Public Empowerment of Police: A Study of Public Support for Police Militarization in America. This discussion post is an abbreviated version of the Academic Journal Article Critique. You are to include the following:
Introduction (1/2 page)
Description of the Problem or Issue (1/2 page)
Analysis (1/2 page)
Discussion (1/2 page)
Critique (1/2 page)
Conclusion (1/2 page)
Assessing the Direct and Indirect Effects of Legitimacy on Public Empowerment of Police: A Study of Public Support for Police Militarization in America
Richard K. Moule, Jr. George W. Burruss Megan M. Parry Bryanna Fox
The process-based model dominates contemporary American research on police-community relations and perceptions of police. A sizable literature has examined the linkages between procedural justice, legitimacy, compliance with the law, and cooperation with police. Less examined is the relationship between legitimacy and public empowerment of police. This study examines this relationship, focusing on police militarization. We first examine the direct effect of legitimacy on public willingness to allow police to become more militarized. Drawing from cognitive psychology and rational choice theories, we then consider indirect paths between legitimacy and empower- ment, concentrating on two anticipated consequences of militarization—an increase in police effectiveness and possible harm to civil liberties. Using a national sample of over 700 American adults, and structural equation model- ing, results indicate legitimacy has both direct and indirect effects on police empowerment, in part by shaping assessments of the possible consequences of empowerment. Implications for theory and policy are discussed.
Tyler’s (2006) process-based model of policing is now a staple of American research on public perceptions and community rela- tions with law enforcement. This is best illustrated by the promi- nent place of the model in the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing’s (2015) final report. This task force, initiated by President Obama in the aftermath of civil unrest in major American cities, emphasized the importance of trust and civil relationships between police and the communities they serve. The core of the process-based model holds that the actions of the police influence the behaviors and perceptions of the public in two stages (Mazerolle et al. 2013). First, procedurally just treatment of the citizenry by authorities enhances the legitimacy of those authorities. Second, legitimacy should encourage volun- tary citizen compliance with the law as well as their cooperation with police (Tyler 2006; Tyler and Huo 2002). A robust body of research spanning psychology, management, and criminology
Please direct all correspondence to Richard K. Moule Jr., Department of Criminology, University of South Florida, 4202 E. Fowler Ave., Tampa FL 33620; e-mail: [email protected]
Law & Society Review, Volume 53, Number 1 (2019): 77–107 © 2018 Law and Society Association. All rights reserved.
has assessed the underlying assumptions of the process-based model, finding widespread support for the theory (Tyler 2017). Indeed, this body of evidence has led some researchers to char- acterize the “front end” of the process-based model—the links between procedural justice and legitimacy—as a “well-trodden path” (Mazerolle et al. 2013: 34).
The problem, however, is that while the core components of the process-based model have been assessed and supported among Amer- icans (see Tyler 2003, 2004, 2006, 2017), other aspects of the theory remain under-examined. This is especially true regarding the conse- quences of legitimacy. In addition to cooperation and compliance with the law and its agents, Sunshine and Tyler (2003) proposed an “empowerment hypothesis,” where the public exhibits a greater will- ingness to grant police more discretion to enforce the law. According to this hypothesis, willingness is a function of legitimacy; as perceptions of legitimacy increase, so too should this willingness. Understanding public willingness to empower the police is particularly timely, given the increasingly contentious and visible divide in the United States between police and the communities they serve (President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing 2015). Chief among these issues is the militarization of the police (Balko 2013; Kraska 2007; Page 2014).
Police militarization refers to the process by which police agencies take on more and more characteristics of the military, including appearance, behavior, and use of surplus military equip- ment (Balko 2013; Kraska 2007). In the wake of civil unrest, and the subsequent police response, seen in Ferguson, Missouri, and elsewhere over the past few years, debates about police militariza- tion have arisen and persisted. These debates emphasized the possible consequences of militarization. Assessments of these pos- sible consequences reflect rational concerns on the part of stake- holders and practitioners (Turner and Fox 2017). Some have argued militarization is a necessary development that will increase the effectiveness of law enforcement, helping officers fight crime and maintain public safety (Madhani 2014). Others still have expressed concern about the harmful implications of militarization for civil liberties (ACLU 2014; Lynch 2014). Such concerns are likely to be echoed by members of the American public. We argue perceptions of these possible consequences of police militarization are anchored by legitimacy and, in turn, also influence public will- ingness to empower police (e.g., Tversky and Kahneman 1974).
To that end, the current study examines the influence of police legitimacy on the American public’s willingness to empower the police to become more militarized. Drawing on insights from cognitive psychology and rational choice theory, we then consider whether legitimacy influences the perceived consequences of mili- tarization, and whether these perceived consequences act as
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indirect pathways linking legitimacy and empowerment. Using a national sample of 702 American adults, and a structural equation modeling (SEM) strategy (Bollen 1989; Bowen and Guo 2011), we seek to address two questions: (1) does legitimacy have a direct effect on public empowerment of police? And (2) does legitimacy exert indirect effects on empowerment through instrumental con- cerns about the potential consequences of militarization? Our overall goal is to elaborate on how legitimacy influences the Amer- ican publics’ willingness to empower the police. We begin by dis- cussing the process-based model of policing and its consequences.
The Process-Based Model of Policing and its Consequences
Legitimacy refers to the public’s views toward legal authorities (Lind and Tyler 1988; Trinkner and Cohn 2014; Tyler 2006). Spe- cifically, legitimacy is “a property of an authority or institution that leads people to feel that that authority or institution is entitled to be deferred to and obeyed” (Sunshine and Tyler 2003: 514; see also Weber 1968). Legitimacy is necessary, as institutions of gover- nance function with the consent of the governed (Sabine 1937; see also Locke 1988). Police legitimacy is specifically an individual normative orientation toward the police, reflecting a combination of trust in law enforcement as well as feelings of obligation to obey the police (Parry et al. 2017; Reisig et al. 2007; Tyler 2006; Wolfe et al. 2016; but see Barbalet 2009; Bottoms and Tankebe 2012; Johnson et al. 2014; Kaina 2008).
Legitimacy is cultivated by the police in a number of ways, including demonstrating their effectiveness (Kochel et al. 2013; Tankebe 2009, 2013; Taylor et al. 2015), distributing resources in a fair and equitable way (e.g., Epp et al. 2014; Tankebe 2013), respecting the bounds of their lawful authority (Huq et al. 2017), and treating the citizens they come in contact with in a fair and just manner (e.g., Lind and Tyler 1988; Tyler 2006, 2017). In Western countries, including America, legitimacy is commonly considered to be generated by police engaging in procedurally just practices (Hinds and Murphy 2007; Mazerolle et al. 2013; Tyler, 2006, 2017). When police are perceived as behaving in a procedurally just fashion—being fair, respectful, and courteous toward citizens during interactions they may have, making deci- sions based on the facts of a given situation, and allowing citizens to have a say in their decision-making process—they are seen as more legitimate by the public (Mazerolle et al. 2013; Tyler 2006, 2017; Tyler and Huo 2002; Wolfe et al. 2016; Worden and McLean 2017a, 2017b).
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Legitimacy is particularly important for the police, as law enforcement relies on the voluntary assistance of citizens to main- taining order and public safety (Decker 1981; Frank et al. 2005; Huang and Vaughn 1996; Reiss 1971). Indeed, legitimacy influ- ences a number of citizen beliefs and behaviors related to these outcomes. When police are seen as more legitimate, citizens are more likely to cooperate with them and comply with the law (e.g., Donner et al. 2015; Jackson et al. 2012; Reisig et al. 2011). Sunshine and Tyler (2003) suggest an additional consequence of legitimacy: public willingness to empower police. This “empowerment hypothesis” holds that as the perceived legitimacy of law enforcement increases, the public is more willing to grant discretion, or a wider latitude, to police to execute their duties (Pryce 2016; Sunshine and Tyler 2003). This enhanced discretion can involve practices that may be seen controversial by members of the public (e.g., Gau and Brunson 2010; White and Fradella 2016; see Sunshine and Tyler 2003).
While legitimacy and procedural justice have received much attention by researchers, the empowerment hypothesis remains largely unexamined. To our knowledge, only three studies have examined the influence of legitimacy on empowerment, finding tentative support for the relationship. Sunshine and Tyler (2003) examined willingness to give police greater autonomy (e.g., conducting “stop and question” stops with members of the public; having the ability to do whatever they feel is necessary to fight crime). Using SEM, and two samples of New York City resi- dents, the pair demonstrated that legitimacy had a moderate posi- tive effect on police empowerment. Among Ghanaian immigrants in Washington, DC, Pryce (2016) found obligation to obey the police to have similar effects. Metcalfe and Hodge (2017) also found, among Israeli adults, that elements of legitimacy were robust correlates of public willingness to empower police to fight terrorism. Despite this evidence, additional research into this rela- tionship is necessary, as these studies did not fully elaborate on why legitimacy might influence empowerment. In the following section, we consider possible indirect paths through which legiti- macy may affect public empowerment of the police.
Indirect Paths Linking Legitimacy and Empowerment: Anchoring and the Perceived Consequences of Empowerment
The crux of the process-based model is twofold. First, proce- dural justice underpins the legitimacy of law enforcement. Sec- ond, legitimacy has consequences for the relationship between the
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public and legal institutions (Sunshine and Tyler 2003); specifi- cally, legitimacy is a key contributor to how individuals think, feel, and act toward police (e.g., compliance and cooperation; Tyler 2006). These normative orientations toward the police extend to the public willingness to empowerment of police and evaluations of police practices (Pryce 2016; Sunshine and Tyler 2003). Evalua- tions of these practices are likely to involve the possible conse- quences, good or bad, associated with them (e.g., Feldman 1988). To better understand these perceived consequences, and sources of these perceptions, we draw from cognitive psychology and the- ories of rational choice (Becker 1968; Blankenship et al. 2008; Hechter and Kanazawa 1997; Nagin and Paternoster 1993; Tversky and Kahneman 1974).
Individuals’ normative beliefs and orientations serve as “psycho- logical anchors” for cognitive evaluation and perception of the world. Anchoring is a cognitive heuristic where individuals rely on a precon- ceived notion to shape their beliefs, and adjust their views only mar- ginally from that point (Blankenship et al. 2008; Meub and Proeger 2015; Tversky and Kahneman 1974). Indeed, anchoring plays a con- siderable role in the perceptions and opinions that an individual pos- sesses, particularly when little information is known on the topic (Chapman and Johnson 1999). For instance, anchoring is commonly used as a means of estimating risk and uncertainty (Plous 1989; Wright and Anderson 1989), and predicting future performance (Switzer and Sniezek 1991). Legitimacy appears to function as an anchor for individual evaluations of police (Fox et al. 2018; Pryce 2016; Sunshine and Tyler 2003), with recent research demonstrating that legitimacy colors individuals’ subjective perceptions of police appearance and behavior (Moule et al. 2018). As Sunshine and Tyler (2003: 517) noted, “when [police] are not viewed as legitimate, their actions are subject to challenge, their decisions are not accepted, and their directives are ignored.” This recognition provides a theoretical basis for the direct effects of legitimacy on empowerment.
With respect to indirect effects connecting legitimacy and empowerment, we draw on rational choice theories to formulate these linkages. Rational choice theories contend that individuals evaluate the potential costs and benefits of possible actions (Beccaria  1963; Bentham  1948). These evaluations, in turn, shape individual behavior (Becker 1968; Nagin and Paternoster 1993). Assessments of these possible consequences are not random; rather, paralleling the notion of psychological anchors, they vary as a function of individual dispositions and normative orientations (e.g., Agnew 2011; Matsueda et al. 2006; Piquero and Tibbetts 1996; Pogarsky et al. 2017; Stanovich 1999). Specifically, the perceived consequences of a behavior should pro- vide indirect pathways between individual dispositions and
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behaviors. In this case, the perceived consequences of empower- ment should link legitimacy and the willingness to empower police. Consistent with our interpretation of legitimacy as an anchor, we argue that it is one such influential disposition, directly influencing public willingness to empower police (Sunshine and Tyler 2003). Legitimacy should then also shape the perceived con- sequences of police behavior, because members of the public are anchored to the belief that the police will act in a legitimate (e.g., fair, effective, and just) fashion (MacCoun 2005; Tyler 2006).
The perceived consequences of police behavior should also influence public willingness to empower the police (see, generally, Levi and Stoker 2000). Two perceived consequences, one cost and one potential benefit, seem especially relevant with regard to public empowerment of police: improved police effectiveness and harm to civil rights. These possible consequences of empowering the police reflect the natural tensions between the government and the citi- zenry (Chong 1993; McClosky and Brill 1983; Packer 1964; Snider- man et al. 1996) and are persisting dimensions of the public discourse on law enforcement (President’s Task Force on 21st Cen- tury Policing 2015).
First, a possible benefit of any police practice is that it assists law enforcement in being more effective at preventing and fighting crime. Police effectiveness, and perceptions of this effectiveness, is partially dependent upon the legitimacy of law enforcement (Engel and Smith 2009; Smith 1994; see also Weitzer and Tuch 2005). Indeed, trust—a prominent component of legitimacy—in social organizations increases perceptions of the effectiveness of those institutions (Sunshine and Tyler 2003; Walters 2004). Citi- zen perceptions of program effectiveness should, consequently, shape their support for those programmatic efforts (see Gould 2002; Lock 1999). If police practices are perceived as being likely to improve police effectiveness, support for those programs and police behaviors would also be expected to increase.
The second potential consequence of any police practice is that it may infringe on individuals’ civil liberties (Gould 2002). Past research suggests that key aspects of legitimacy, such as trust, color the perceptions of possible threats to personal civil liberties posed by social institutions. These perceptions similarly shape assessments of institutional practices (Borchers 2001; Siegrist et al. 2000). Assessments of law enforcement are no exception. Higher levels of trust in the police correspond with lower levels of concern about the loss of, or potential infringement upon, civil liberties by the government (see Davis and Silver 2004). Lower levels of concern about the possible loss of civil liberties, in turn, should correspond with more support for police practices. Taken together, these per- ceived costs and benefits associated with empowerment offer
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potential indirect paths for legitimacy to influence public willing- ness to empower law enforcement.
Understanding public willingness to empower the police is par- ticularly timely, given that a number of contentious issues involving law enforcement that have gained prominence in recent years across the United States (President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing 2015; Weitzer 2017). One such issue involves the militariza- tion of local law enforcement (President’s Task Force on 21st Cen- tury Policing 2015). We consider empowerment in the context of police militarization, a controversial set of practices brought to light by the events that occurred in Ferguson in 2014, and around which debate persists today. We discuss the militarization of American police, and the role that legitimacy and the perceived consequences of militarization may play in shaping public willingness to empower police to become more militarized, in the following section.
A Context to Examine the Empowerment Hypothesis: Police Militarization
Writing in the mid-1990s, Kraska and colleagues (Kraska and Cubellis 1997; Kraska and Kappeler 1997) argued that American police were slowly beginning to look more and more like the Armed Forces. The authors elaborated on the growing resem- blance of the police to the military through the use of the concepts of militarism and militarization (see also Kraska 2007). Militarism is the foundation for militarization (Berghahn 1982; Eide and Thee 1980); it involves “beliefs, values, and assumptions that stress the use of force and threat of violence as the most appropriate and effi- cacious means to solve problems” (Kraska 2007: 503).1 Police mili- tarization, in turn, refers to the “process whereby civilian police increasingly draw from, and pattern themselves around, the tenets of militarism and the military model” (Kraska 2007: 503).2
1 With regard to the sources of militarism, Balko (2013) noted that it was not a sin- gle decision to militarize the police. Rather, it was a slow progression from officers run- ning soup kitchens for the poor to standing atop armored personnel carriers. These changes were driven by a number of factors, including public fears of crime, political rhe- toric, and declarations of war against abstract concepts (such as the war on crime, drugs, and terror). Kraska and Cubellis (1997: 623) suggested this growth was also the result of a “complex of for-profit training, weapons, and equipment suppliers” promoting militari- zation. It is also reinforced among law enforcement officers through socialization into the police culture (e.g., the emphasis on danger, distrust of the citizenry; see, e.g., Crank 2015; Jefferson 1990).
2 Having drawn its roots from the English model, American law enforcement has always been militarized to some degree, sharing similar hierarchical organizational struc- tures, the state-sanctioned ability to use violence, and some overlap in appearance, such as uniforms and rank insignia, with the military (Kraska 2007; see also Bittner 1970; Kraska and Kappeler 1997; Uchida 1997).
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This patterning includes the acquisition of surplus military weapons, equipment, and vehicles (Balko 2013; Campbell and Campbell 2010; Kraska 2007), and has been occurring for some time.3
American police have slowly been becoming more militarized since the 1960s (Maguire and King 2004). Kraska and colleagues (Kraska and Cubellis 1997; Kraska and Kappeler 1997), for example, documented the growth of paramilitary policing units, such as Special Weapons and Tactics (S.W.A.T.) teams. These units are closely associated with militarization, as they commonly use surplus military weapons and equipment and were originally developed to respond to dangerous criminal events, such as ter- rorist attacks and hostage situations (Beck 1972; Kraska and Kap- peler 1997). Kraska and Cubellis (1997) found a sharp uptick in the number of agencies harnessing paramilitary units throughout the 1980s. As these units became more commonplace, they were increasingly harnessed for additional police activities. Indeed, paramilitary units were increasingly used for the serving of war- rants and proactive patrols (e.g., Balko 2013; Kraska and Cubellis 1997), practices that continue through to the present day.
Kraska and colleagues (Kraska and Cubellis 1997; Kraska and Kappeler 1997) were unable to explain why paramilitary policing units were becoming more common, finding factors such as crime rates did not predict the use of S.W.A.T. teams by police agencies. They suggested that this growth was a result of federal funding initiatives providing local police access to surplus military equip- ment (Balko 2013; Pennella and Nacci 1997). These initiatives were typified by the 1033 Program, a military-law enforcement equipment exchange program enacted as part of the National Defense Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 1997 (US House Com- mittee on Armed Services 2014). In the wake of September 11, 2001 terror attacks, additional funding streams allowed departments to acquire new technologies and equipment, further promoting the militarization of local law enforcement (Balko 2013; Chaffetz and Cummins 2016). Radil et al. (2017: 208) and Delehanty et al. (2017) noted that 80 percent of U.S. counties had received equipment through the 1033 Program between 2006 and 2013.4 To date, over 8000 law enforcement agencies,
3 Given our focus on American citizens, our literature review concentrates on milita- rization of American police (see, more generally, Kappeler and Kraska 2015). Nonethe- less, in recent years, discussions of militarization in other countries have begun to emerge (see, e.g. Linke 2010; Moloeznik 2013). We revisit this consideration in the discussion section of the article.
4 Importantly, crime was continuing to decline during this time period (e.g., Parker et al. 2017). We cannot speak to whether the 1033 Program or other federal initiatives influenced this decline.
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representing roughly 45 percent of all police agencies in the U- nited States,5 have participated in the Program (Defense Logistics Agency 2018).
The militarization of American police continued largely with- out controversy throughout the 2000s (Balko 2013). However, the civil unrest, and police response, seen in Ferguson in 2014 served as a flashpoint for the public discourse surrounding police milita- rization. Nightly news broadcasts depicted heavily armored police clad in camouflage and combat gear, pointing military-style weapons at civilians (Kesling and Shallwani 2014). In the wake of these events, policy makers and stakeholders debated the merits of militarized police, expressing concerns about the consequences of militarization for citizens’ civil rights and police effectiveness (Madhani 2014; Paul 2014; President’s Task Force on 21st Cen- tury Policing 2015). These concerns lead President Obama to issue an executive order curtailing access to some surplus military equipment and weapons available through the 1033 Program (Korte 2015).6 In August of 2017, President Trump rescinded the Obama-era executive order. Rescinding the Obama-era executive order was done due to concerns about officer and public safety and police effectiveness (Goldman 2017). For example, current Attorney General Jefferson Sessions criticized the Obama execu- tive order, claiming “Those restrictions went too far. We will not put superficial concerns above public safety” (Ebert 2017: para 9). These events, and the arguments they have provoked, provide the backdrop for the current study.
A substantial body of research has examined the process- based model of policing, finding support for the linkages between procedural justice, legitimacy, compliance, and cooperation (Mazerolle et al. 2013; Nagin and Telep 2017; Reisig et al. 2007; Tyler 2006, 2017). Limited research has examined the empower- ment hypothesis, by which legitimacy engenders public willing- ness to empower law enforcement (Pryce 2016; Sunshine and Tyler 2003). We first argue for and assess whether legitimacy
5 According to the 2008 Census of State and Local Law Enforcement (Reaves 2011), there are roughly 18,000 law enforcement agencies in the United States (for information on federal law enforcement agencies, see Reaves 2012).
6 The recommendations from the Obama executive order are available at https:// obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/sites/default/files/docs/le_equipment_wg_final_report_ final.pdf.
The Trump executive order is available at https://www.hsdl.org/?abstract&did= 803770.
Moule, Burruss, Parry, & Fox 85
exhibits direct effects on empowerment, within the context of police militarization. Second, drawing on insights from rational choice theory, we argue that legitimacy forms the basis for asses- sing the perceived consequence of militarization. These perceived consequences should also influence public willingness to empower police to become more militarized. We thus also consider the indi- rect effects of legitimacy on empowerment through these per- ceived consequences. We specify and test a total of seven hypotheses regarding legitimacy and empowerment.
Hypothesis 1:Higher levels of police legitimacy will increase support for police use of military surplus equipment.
Hypothesis 2: Higher perceptions that militarization increases police effectiveness will increase support for the police use of mili- tary surplus equipment.
Hypothesis 3: Higher perceptions that militarization will increase violations of citizens’ rights will decrease support for police use of military surplus equipment.
Hypothesis 4a: Higher levels of police legitimacy will increase perceptions that militarization will make the police more effective.
Hypothesis 4b:Higher levels of police legitimacy will reduce perceptions that militarization will result in increased violation of citizens’ rights.
Hypothesis 5a: Legitimacy will show an indirect effect on sup- port for police use of surplus military equipment through percep- tions that militarization increases police effectiveness.
Hypothesis 5b: Legitimacy will show an indirect effect on sup- port for police use of surplus military equipment through percep- tions that militarization increases violations of citizen’s rights.
In the following section, we detail the data and methods used to answer our research questions and better elaborate on the legitimacy-empowerment link.
Data used in the current study consist of a national sample of 702 American adults surveyed about their perceptions of law enforcement, particularly issues relating to police militarization (see Fox et al. 2018; Moule et al. 2018). Data were collected in the Spring of 2017 using Qualtrics’ online survey service.7 The service contains over 13 million diverse users who are solicited to partici- pate in survey research through multiple methods, and is
7 For more information on Qualtrics, please see www.qualtrics.com.
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increasingly being used in social science research (Bushman et al. 2012; Wright and Skagerberg 2012). Respondents were selected from Qualtrics’ list of survey participants using stratified random sampling procedures. Participants were stratified on gen- der, race, and household income to mirror the composition of American adults from the 2010 U.S. Census.8
A total of 705 individuals originally completed the instrument; three individuals were removed for failing attention checks (Oppenheimer, Meyvis and Davidenko 2009). The remaining 702 participants entered and completed the survey in a satisfactory manner. Responses were required for all questions, resulting in no missing data. Surveys were completed in an average of 18 minutes, and respondents were compensated above industry standards ($3 upon completion) to encourage high response and completion rates in the study. Overall, the data are well suited for addressing the empowerment hypothesis, and examining the direct and indi- rect effects of legitimacy on public empowerment of the police.
Support for Police Use of Surplus Military Equipment was measured as a latent factor using four items capturing sentiments toward police use of equipment commonly associated with militarization (e.g., surplus military equipment, style of dress, or “material militarization”; see Kraska 2007; Lockwood et al. 2018). Respondents were asked whether law enforcement should be able to (1) use surplus military weapons (e.g., assault weapons, AR-15/M4; submachine guns, MP5), (2) use surplus military vehicles (e.g., BearCat armored person- nel carrier, mine resistant ambush protected vehicle-MRAP), (3) use surplus military equipment (e.g., computers, tools, generators, etc.; see, e.g., Radil et al. 2017), and (4) wear military style uniforms. Respondents indicated agreement with each st
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