The community meeting offered by the Culver City Police on July 21, 2022, was a snapshot of current challenges; the meeting was a hybrid – offered both live and on line – and Chief Manny Cid was on the Webex call, isolating because of COVID. While the invitation to the meeting noted masks were optional, most of the attendees wore face coverings.
The 6:30 pm meeting was chaired by CCPD Captain Troy Dunlop, who faced several dozen people in the Rotunda Room of the Vets Auditorium as well as dozens more online. The topic of conversation -the California state law AB481, requiring that designated military equipment used by police requires a policy standard set by local overseeing agency – wasone that many in the communityh were interested in talking about.
The working policy that has been agreed upon by the police department and the City Council’s sub-committee – appointments held by City Council members Goran Eriksson and Yasmine Imani McMorrin – was presented as an 18 page print-out to those attending. The department’s direct focus on the state law and how it would impact both equipment currently in use (such as drones) and equipment currently being ordered (armored vans.) A point that Dunlap made repeatedly was that CCPD was not getting military equipment from the federal program designed to get military grade weapons to local police.
The federal program, known as ‘1033,’ originated in 1996 and has been responsible for getting almost seven billion dollars worth of army equipment and weapons into more than 10,000 local police departments across the county, free of charge.
California’s law, AB 481, is a state level of discretion aimed at tempering the flow of weapons from the federal level, giving control to local authorities. Again, Dunlop began by saying that the CCPD was not a participant in the federal program.
While the department has not taken any of the federal weapons offered, the CCPD has purchased a number of weapons that fall into the category of ‘military equipment’ including flash-bang grenades, tear gas, drones, projectile launchers and more. Chief Cid, speaking online, “Anyone using these weapons without proper authorization will be subject to discipline, up to and including dismissal.” He also noted that it was a working document, and emphasized that the policy agreed upon with the sub-committee still needs to be approved by the council
The input from the community fell largely into two categories; those who felt that the police should not have to abide by council consent, and those who felt that any further investment in weapons or equipment was a misuse of funds that could be utilized to create better social intervention/crime prevention programs.
The Draft Policy Statement is available online at the CCPD website; the item is scheduled to be on the agenda for the August 22, 2022 City Council Meeting.