Home Brentwood Brentwood Set to Adopt Military Equipment Use Policy

Brentwood Set to Adopt Military Equipment Use Policy

by ECT

On Tuesday, the Brentwood City Council will discuss the introduction and waive the first reading of an Ordinance adopting a military equipment use policy per Assembly Bill 481.

The move comes after Governor Gavin Newsom signed Assembly bill 481 last fall. The bill requires a reporting and authorization process for the purchase and use of certain law enforcement tools. AB 481 requires each specified California law enforcement agency (LEA) to obtain approval from the applicable governing body via adoption of a “military equipment” use policy (the Policy) by ordinance (the Ordinance), prior to the LEA funding, acquiring, or using tools identified as “military equipment.”

According to the Staff Report:

Items deemed to be “military equipment” by AB 481 are used as a component of overall best practices for LEAs throughout the country. These tools have been tested in the field and are used by LEAs to enhance citizen safety and officer safety. The loss of these items would jeopardize the welfare of our citizens and our peace officers within the Brentwood Police Department.

The term “military equipment,” as used in AB 481, does not necessarily indicate equipment that the military has used or provided to the LEA. Pursuant to AB 481, items deemed to be “military equipment” include, but are not limited to, unmanned aerial or ground vehicles, armored vehicles, command and control vehicles, less lethal pepper balls, less lethal shotguns, less lethal 40mm projectile launchers, long-range acoustic devices, and flashbangs.

The Brentwood Police Department is committed to using the most up-to-date tools and equipment to safeguard the citizens of Brentwood. Many items deemed “military equipment” by AB 481 are employed by Brentwood Police Department and LEAs across the country to specifically reduce risk to our community members. These items provide peace officers with the ability to safely resolve volatile situations that otherwise might rise to the level of a lethal force encounter. The items at issue in this report and the accompanying Military Equipment Use Policy 708 also provide Brentwood Police Department’s peace officers with vital tools that facilitate compliance with its stringent use of force policy.

Other items deemed “military equipment” via AB 481 include foundational equipment such as rifles. These rifles allow peace officers to address lethal threats from a greater distance and with greater precision.

The Brentwood Police Department policy 708, “Military Equipment Funding, Acquisition, and Use” adheres to this new California law with respect to the approval, acquisition, and reporting requirements of military equipment. In addition, Assembly Bill 481 requires the City to:

  • Publish the draft military equipment use policy to the Police Department’s website 30 days ahead of a public hearing to approve the policy. The Department’s draft policy was published on March 25, 2022, 31 days prior to this public hearing
  • Publish an annual report to include each type of military equipment approved by City Council.
  • Hold at least one well-publicized and conveniently located community engagement meeting within 30 days of submitting and publicly releasing the annual military equipment report
  • Have the City Council annually review the military equipment use ordinance and determine whether to continue the military equipment use policy or not, or whether to disapprove a renewal of a type of military equipment, or amend the military equipment use policy if City Council determines that the military equipment does not comply with standards for approval.

In adopting the ordinance, to which the Military Equipment Policy is an exhibit, the City Council
is required by AB 481 to make the following findings, each of which the Department contends
can be made:

  • The military equipment identified in the policy is necessary because there is no reasonable alternative that can achieve the same objective of officer and civilian safety

The equipment identified in Policy 708 is necessary for the Brentwood Police Department, as there are no reasonable alternative tools that law enforcement can use to achieve the same goal of both officer and civilian safety. Though the Department does not use every item of military equipment identified in Policy 708, those tools it does use are indispensable to the police work that keeps Brentwood safe and have no practical substitutes.

  • The proposed policy will safeguard the public’s welfare, safety, civil rights, and civil liberties.

The policy, attached as Exhibit A to the Ordinance and identified as Brentwood Police Department Policy 708, will safeguard the public’s welfare, safety, civil rights, and civil liberties in that it will create publically-known and adopted usage guidelines and standards, which will be reviewed annually.

  • If purchasing the equipment identified in the policy, the equipment is reasonably cost effective compared to available alternatives that can achieve the same objective of officer and civilian safety

The Department is not purchasing additional equipment identified in the policy.

  • Prior military equipment use complied with the military equipment policy that was in effect at the time, or if prior uses did not comply with the accompanying military equipment policy, corrective action has been taken to remedy nonconforming uses and ensure future compliance.

The City had no previous military equipment policy; this finding therefore does not apply.

After hearing any public comments, if the City Council votes to waive the first reading and introduce the ordinance by title only, then as is the City Council’s practice, the second reading would be placed on the consent calendar for the City Council’s next regular meeting.

New Acquisition

Along with seeking authorization to use preexisting equipment, the Brentwood Police Department also would like to inform the City Council and the public that it will acquire, fund, and use a new piece of equipment. In this regard, the Department plans to purchase new Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) replacement rifles in the fiscal year 2022/2023.

The Police Department plans to purchase the LMT MARS-LA automatic rifle 5.56mm. The LMT MARS-LA automatic rifle features a semi-auto piston rifle system, a railed MLOK upper receiver, Ambidextrous Charging Handle, S-A Piston Bolt Carrier Group, and a 14.5″ chrome-lined Barrel.

These rifles are standard issue service weapons for our SWAT officers, and are therefore exempted from this Military Equipment Use Policy per Government Code § 7070 (c)(10). Their acquisition has been included in this staff report in an abundance of caution and in the interest of transparency.

The FY 2021/22 General Fund Operating Budget includes funding for the use of preexisting equipment. The draft 2022/23 – 2023/24 General Fund Operating Budget will include amounts for the acquisition of new equipment as detailed in the staff report. The draft 2022/23 – 2023/24 General Fund Operating Budget will be presented to the City Council for consideration and direction at the Operating Budget workshop on May 10, 2022.

Note — last week, the City of Pittsburg approved their military use policy

City Council Meeting
Tuesday, April 26
7:00 pm
Full Agenda: Click here

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1 comment

Withheld Apr 25, 2022 - 8:09 pm

I sure hope they count assault rifles on this list. They keep telling the public they are weapons of war.

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