Assembly Bill 481 - Military Equipment

Assembly Bill 481 – Military Equipment Funding, Acquisition, and Use Policy

On September 30, 2021, Governor Newsom signed one of many pieces of police reform legislation. AB 481 was prepared by Assembly member David Chiu (D-San Francisco) to address the funding, acquisition, and use of military equipment. 

AB 481 Definition of Military Equipment

The Assembly Bill has designated the following categories of items as military equipment. The Sierra Madre Police Department has equipment that meets the criteria for 3 of the 15 categories (categories 1, 12, and 14):

  • Unmanned, remotely piloted, powered aerial or ground vehicles (Equipment Category 1)

  • Mine-resistant ambush-protected (MRAP) vehicles or armored personnel carriers (Equipment Category 2)

  • 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 (Equipment Category 3)

  • Tracked armored vehicles that provide ballistic protection to their occupants (Equipment Category 4)

  • Command and control vehicles that are either built or modified to facilitate the operational control and direction of public safety units (Equipment Category 5)

  • Weaponized aircraft, vessels, or vehicles of any kind (Equipment Category 6)

  • Battering rams, slugs, and breaching apparatuses that are explosive in nature (Equipment Category 7)

  • Firearms of .50 caliber or greater, excluding standard-issue shotguns (Equipment Category 8)

  • Ammunition of .50 caliber or greater, excluding standard-issue shotgun ammunition Equipment Category 9)

  • 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, excluding standard-issue service weapons (Equipment Category 10)

  • Any firearm or firearm accessory that is designed to launch explosive projectiles (Equipment Category 11)

  • Noise-flash diversionary devices (flashbangs), explosive breaching tools, tear gas, and pepper balls (Equipment Category 12)

  • TASER® Shockwave, microwave weapons, water cannons, and long-range acoustic devices (Equipment Category 13)

  • Kinetic energy weapons and munitions (Equipment Category 14)

  • Any other equipment as determined by a governing body or a state agency to require additional oversight (Equipment Category 15)

The full text of AB 481 is available here

Requirements of AB 481

AB 481 requires each law enforcement agency’s governing body to initiate the adoption of a written military use policy by ordinance in a public forum in May of 2022 to continue using this previously acquired equipment. To help guide this process, Sierra Madre PD has taken several steps towards establishing a transparent process to achieve this. Documents required by the legislation are available here: 

  • Sierra Madre PD Policy § 706 Military Equipment is available to view here.

  • According to California Government Code §7071(d)(6), members of the public may register complaints, concerns, or submit questions about the use of each specific type of Military Equipment in this policy by any of the following means:

  • Via mail sent to: Sierra Madre Police Department, Attn: Military Equipment Use Coordinator, 242 W. Sierra Madre Blvd, Sierra Madre, CA, 91024

  • Prepare an Annual Report to include the use of military equipment, any complaints received, any internal audits or other information about violations of SMPD Policy 706, the cost of such use, and other similar information. The first Annual Report will be distributed approximately one year after the adoption of the Military Equipment Use ordinance. This web page will be utilized to distribute any updates to the above materials and the Annual Report.

Public Input Regarding AB 481

Once adopted, publicized annual public meeting will be held to present the following information:

  • SMPD’s military equipment inventory

  • SMPD’s proposed equipment funding and acquisition

  • A Military Equipment use annual report

  • Community engagement and public access to materials

Feedback will be incorporated into a Report to Council when presented for annual renewal.