Protesters raise their hands in front of police atop an armored vehicle in Ferguson, Mo. on Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014. (AP Photo/St. Louis Post-Dispatch, J.B. Forbes)

The Defense Department's excess property program provides state and local law enforcement agencies with hundreds of millions of dollars worth of unused military equipment annually. The Defense Logistics Agency, which runs the program, provided me with a dataset giving detailed numbers on every equipment transaction going back to 2006. These figures show exactly what kinds of equipment are being provided, where the equipment is going (down to the county level), and how the flow of equipment has increased dramatically over the past eight years.

Below, some key top-level findings from the data.

1. "Military equipment" means more than just guns

The dataset contains records of 243,000 transactions encompassing roughly 2.8 million individual items. Small firearms, like rifles, pistols, and grenade launchers, account for some 37 percent of the transactions, but only about 5 percent of the individual items. Weapons parts and components make up the remaining items, along with vehicles, clothing, and miscellaneous supplies.

2. The amount of military goods flowing to local law enforcement agencies has increased dramatically in recent years

In 2006, the Pentagon transferred roughly $33 million worth of goods to local agencies. By 2013 that number had risen more than tenfold, to at least $420 million. Much of this can be explained by the winding down of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. As those missions ended, more surplus goods became available for domestic use.

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3. Heavy armored vehicle transfers have risen dramatically as well

In 2012 the Pentagon transferred 27 mine-resistant vehicles and other armored combat vehicles to local law enforcement agencies. That number jumped more than sevenfold the following year. In 2014 so far, heavy armored combat vehicles account for nearly half of the total dollar value of gear transferred to local agencies. These figures do not account for a variety of other vehicle transfers, like four-wheel drive vehicles and run-of-the-mill armored trucks.

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4. Some states are more enthusiastic participants in the program than others

Florida has scooped up $252 million worth of military equipment since 2006, making that state #1 in terms of raw dollar amounts. That's more than twice as much as Alabama, the next-highest state on the list, with $117 million. Texas, California and Tennessee round out the top five.

In order to correct for population, we can look at dollars of equipment transferred per sworn law enforcement officer in each state. By this measure Alabama is on top, receiving more than $10,000 worth of military goods since 2006 for every sworn officer in the state. Delaware is second, at a relatively modest $5,800 per officer. Tennessee, Florida and D.C. are ranked three through five, respectively.

Interestingly Alabama's neighbor, Mississippi, is one of the states receiving the least amount of goods from the program, at only $216 per sworn officer. Hawaii receives the smallest amount, at $161 per sworn officer.

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State Sworn law enforcement officers Total value of military goods transferred Value of military goods transferred per sworn officer
Alabama 11,631 117,321,971 10,087
Delaware 2,131 12,483,178 5,858
Tennessee 15,976 88,036,810 5,511
Florida 46,105 252,801,365 5,483
District of Columbia 4,262 21,741,478 5,101
New Mexico 5,010 25,077,906 5,006
Kentucky 7,833 38,672,667 4,937
Maine 2,569 12,048,390 4,690
Montana 1,950 8,943,135 4,586
South Carolina 11,674 49,446,894 4,236
Indiana 13,171 43,153,873 3,276
Arkansas 6,779 21,806,380 3,217
Oklahoma 8,639 26,113,460 3,023
New Hampshire 2,936 8,806,116 2,999
North Dakota 1,324 3,871,165 2,924
Georgia 26,551 74,258,128 2,797
Wyoming 1,691 4,575,149 2,706
West Virginia 3,382 8,970,651 2,652
Arizona 14,591 37,173,754 2,548
Idaho 3,146 7,491,469 2,381
Michigan 19,009 43,557,552 2,291
Washington 11,411 23,543,977 2,063
Rhode Island 2,828 4,812,144 1,702
Texas 59,219 93,960,117 1,587
Ohio 25,992 41,066,994 1,580
Illinois 41,277 63,856,929 1,547
Colorado 12,069 17,701,286 1,467
Vermont 1,103 1,609,630 1,459
Nebraska 3,765 5,430,788 1,442
Iowa 5,830 7,493,026 1,285
Missouri 14,554 17,481,150 1,201
California 79,431 92,199,595 1,161
Louisiana 18,050 20,327,540 1,126
South Dakota 1,636 1,771,106 1,083
Virginia 22,848 24,257,647 1,062
Oregon 6,695 6,891,336 1,029
Connecticut 8,281 7,920,540 956
Minnesota 9,667 8,580,401 888
Nevada 6,643 5,836,318 879
North Carolina 23,442 17,296,017 738
Wisconsin 13,730 10,122,694 737
New Jersey 33,704 24,075,459 714
Massachusetts 18,342 11,878,712 648
Alaska 1,298 706,555 544
Kansas 7,450 4,009,658 538
Utah 4,782 2,264,747 474
Maryland 16,013 7,049,131 440
New York 66,472 24,920,353 375
Mississippi 7,707 1,791,295 232
Pennsylvania 27,413 5,942,289 217
Hawaii 3,234 521,054 161

Undoubtedly, the surplus equipment transfers are a boon to cash-strapped local law enforcement agencies. There's no reason why these organizations shouldn't avail themselves of basic supplies like tools, office equipment, clothing, and even trucks and light vehicles.

But the free flow of combat gear like assault rifles and grenade launchers, and especially the sudden steep rise in transfers of heavily armored combat vehicles, should give anyone pause. While observers have been sounding the alarm about the militarization of local police forces for decades now, the influx of these tank-like combat vehicles is a new development brought on by the end of our overseas wars.

When law enforcement agencies have these weapons in their arsenals they will be tempted to use them. And as this week's events in Ferguson, Missouri have shown, showing up to a peaceful demonstration armed with tanks and assault rifles only inflames tensions.

Fortunately if last night's events are any indication, the withdrawal of the combat troops has lightened the mood on the ground has lightened considerably. Hopefully the hundreds of other municipalities with shiny new BearCats and MRAPs in their precinct garages are paying attention.