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Military Equipment Policy
Assembly Bill 481 – La Palma Police Department Military Equipment Policy
On September 30, 2021, Governor Newsom signed into law seven major peace officer reform bills, including Assembly Bill 481. AB 481 was authored by Assemblymember David Chieu (D-San Francisco) to address the funding, acquisition, and use of items lawmakers deemed to be considered “military equipment.”
This bill requires law enforcement agencies, including the La Palma Police Department, “to obtain approval of the applicable governing body, by adoption of a military equipment use policy, as specified, by ordinance at a regular meeting held pursuant to specified open meeting laws, prior to taking certain actions relating to the funding, acquisition, or use of military equipment, as defined.” The full text of AB 481 is available here.
Furthermore, AB 481 requires similar approval for the continued use of “military equipment” acquired by the La Palma Police Department prior to January 1, 2022, and allows the governing body to approve the funding, acquisition, or use of military equipment within its jurisdiction only if it determines that the military equipment meets specified standards.
AB 481 Definition of Military Equipment (Government Code 7070)
The Assembly Bill has created Government Code 7070 to designate the following 15 categories of items as military equipment:
- Category 1: Unmanned, remotely piloted, powered aerial or ground vehicles
- Category 2: Mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles or armored personnel carriers
- Category 3: High mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicles (HMMWV), two-and-one-half-ton trucks, five-ton trucks, or wheeled vehicles that have a breaching or entry apparatus attached
- Category 4: Tracked armored vehicles that provide ballistic protection to their occupants
- Category 5: Command and control vehicles that are either built or modified to facilitate the operational control and direction of public safety units
- Category 6: Weaponized aircraft, vessels, or vehicles of any kind
- Category 7: Battering rams, slugs, and breaching apparatuses that are explosive in nature
- Category 8: Firearms of .50 caliber or greater, excluding standard-issue shotguns
- Category 9: Ammunition of .50 caliber or greater, excluding standard-issue shotgun ammunition
- Category 10: Specialized firearms and ammunition of less than .50 caliber, including firearms and accessories identified as assault weapons in Penal Code § 30510 and Penal Code §30515, with the exception of standard-issue handguns
- Category 11: Any firearm or firearm accessory that is designed to launch explosive projectiles
- Category 12: Noise-flash diversionary devices and explosive breaching tools
- Category 13: TASER® Shockwave, microwave weapons, water cannons, and long-range acoustic devices
- Category 14: Kinetic energy weapons and munitions
- Category 15: Any other equipment as determined by a governing body or a state agency to require additional oversight
The La Palma Police Department is currently in possession of items in Categories 1, 5, 10, 12, and 14 from the above list, and all items were approved during the associated budgetary periods commensurate with the items purchased. A detailed list of inventory of items can be found in the draft Military Equipment Policy below.
The La Palma Police Department belongs to a regional North County SWAT (NCS) team, comprising of the Brea, Fullerton, La Habra, Placentia, and California State University, Fullerton police departments. Member agencies of the NCS, other than the La Palma Police Department, are in possession of items in Categories 1, 2, 5, 7, 10, 12, 13, and 14. Each agency is responsible for obtaining the approval for the use of their equipment from their respective governing body pursuant to AB 481.
Requirements of AB 481
AB 481 requires each law enforcement agency's governing body to adopt a written military equipment use policy by ordinance in a public forum by April 30, 2022, in order to continue the use of this previously acquired military equipment effective May 1, 2022. The La Palma Police Department is providing information to our residents on the following required materials:
- The La Palma Police Department’s draft Military Equipment Policy §709 is available to view here. The AB 481 newly defined list of “military equipment” currently in the possession of the La Palma Police Department is included in the draft Military Equipment Policy.
- Establish a concern or complaint process. The La Palma Police Department has always had a policy for the public to submit complaints and further information is also available by viewing the La Palma Police Department Policy Manual, specifically §1020.
- Members of the public may also register complaints or concerns or submit questions about the use of each specific type of military equipment by contacting Captain Amend, the Military Equipment Coordinator here. These complaints, concerns, or questions will be promptly addressed within 10 days, absent extraordinary circumstances.
- Prepare an Annual Report to include the use of military equipment, any complaints received, any internal audits or other information about violations of the La Palma Police Department Military Policy §709, the cost of such use, and other similar information. This webpage will be utilized for distribution of any updates to the above materials as well as the Annual Report. The first Annual Report will be distributed on or around June 2023.
Public Input Regarding AB 481
The La Palma Police Department has uploaded several written documents on this website 30 days prior to a public meeting to meet the requirements of AB 481. Members of the public are encouraged to contact the La Palma Police Department at 714-690-3370, or by contacting Captain Amend via email at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or concerns. Also, visit the City of La Palma’s webpage here for information on all upcoming public meetings pertaining to this matter.