The Culver City Police Department will be offering a community meeting to discuss Assembly Bill 481 – the acquisition and use of military equipment – on July 21, 2022 at 6:30 PM at the Veteran’s Memorial Auditorium.
The law as it was originally written allows law enforcement agencies to receive “surplus property, including arms and ammunition” * from the federal Department of Defense at no cost. AB 481 now requires that the law enforcement agency obtain approval from the “applicable governing body.” The bill also requires approval from the same governing body in regard to equipment acquired prior to January, 2022.
Authored by Assemblymember David Chiu (D-San Francisco,) the bill was a response to the use of military grade weapons during the protest in the summer of 2020. “Our citizens are not enemy combatants… I do want to make clear that nothing in this bill prohibits police from getting equipment, but first, they need to go through a governing board to authorize [what they are getting] and the uses of that [equipment.]”
The bill was approved by Governor Gavin Newsom in September of 2021, and became state law in 2022.
Chiu noted “We saw the use of military equipment at largely peaceful protests – equipment that made a lot of folks uncomfortable and questioned the relationship between police departments and the communities they serve.”
Culver City will offer a Webex link for anyone unable to attend in person.
* See comment below for more detailed and specific info from the law on the definition of equipment.
This article repeats an incorrect definition of “military equipment,” which CCPD has spread in their press releases on this issue. Under AB481 it does not matter if equipment comes from the military or is manufactured for military use. The definition in the bill (which is now law) is:
(c) “Military equipment” means the following:
(1) Unmanned, remotely piloted, powered aerial or ground vehicles.
(2) Mine-resistant ambush-protected (MRAP) vehicles or armored personnel carriers. However, police versions of standard consumer vehicles are specifically excluded from this subdivision.
(3) High mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicles (HMMWV), commonly referred to as Humvees, two and one-half-ton trucks, five-ton trucks, or wheeled vehicles that have a breaching or entry apparatus attached. However, unarmored all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and motorized dirt bikes are specifically excluded from this subdivision.
(4) Tracked armored vehicles that provide ballistic protection to their occupants and utilize a tracked system instead of wheels for forward motion.
(5) Command and control vehicles that are either built or modified to facilitate the operational control and direction of public safety units.
(6) Weaponized aircraft, vessels, or vehicles of any kind.
(7) Battering rams, slugs, and breaching apparatuses that are explosive in nature. However, items designed to remove a lock, such as bolt cutters, or a handheld ram designed to be operated by one person, are specifically excluded from this subdivision.
(8) Firearms of .50 caliber or greater. However, standard issue shotguns are specifically excluded from this subdivision.
(9) Ammunition of .50 caliber or greater. However, standard issue shotgun ammunition is specifically excluded from this subdivision.
(10) Specialized firearms and ammunition of less than .50 caliber, including assault weapons as defined in Sections 30510 and 30515 of the Penal Code, with the exception of standard issue service weapons and ammunition of less than .50 caliber that are issued to officers, agents, or employees of a law enforcement agency or a state agency.
(11) Any firearm or firearm accessory that is designed to launch explosive projectiles.
(12) “Flashbang” grenades and explosive breaching tools, “tear gas,” and “pepper balls,” excluding standard, service-issued handheld pepper spray.
(13) Taser Shockwave, microwave weapons, water cannons, and the Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD).
(14) The following projectile launch platforms and their associated munitions: 40mm projectile launchers, “bean bag,” rubber bullet, and specialty impact munition (SIM) weapons.
(15) Any other equipment as determined by a governing body or a state agency to require additional oversight.
(16) Notwithstanding paragraphs (1) through (15), “military equipment” does not include general equipment not designated as prohibited or controlled by the federal Defense Logistics Agency.
CCPD have been stockpiling this equipment, but they have been buying it retail, not acquiring it from the military. This makes absolutely no difference under AB481, nor will it make any difference when these weapons are used on us.