Local Government

New Law Gives Public a Say on Police Military Equipment

A new state law (Assembly Bill 481) aims to give City Council and the public more insight and participation in whether or not and how police departments obtain and use military equipment.

The law requires every law enforcement agency in the State to adopt a Military Equipment Policy, and to have their governing body (City Council) approve the policy, which includes a detailed inventory of each department’s military equipment along with an explanation of the purpose and cost of the equipment. The law also allows the public to give input on their police department’s policy and use of military equipment.

At the April 19 City Council meeting, Fullerton Police officer Mike McCaskill gave a brief presentation on FPD’s military equipment and policy, and Council approved it unanimously with almost no discussion.

The only Council question was from Ahmad Zahra, who asked, “This is a State law we are codifying?”

McCaskill said, “This is a state law that requires we ask your permission to have the equipment we already have.”

No members of the public commented on the item. McCaskill said the policy has been posted on the Police Department’s website for a month, and they have received no questions or comments from the public.

The law states, “Within 30 days of submitting and publicly releasing the annual report, the Department shall hold at least one well-publicized and conveniently-located community engagement meeting, at which the Department should discuss the report and respond to public questions regarding the funding, acquisition, or use of military equipment.”

The Observer received no communication from the Fullerton Police Department in advance of the April 19 City Council meeting about this topic.

In its opening paragraphs, AB 481 states:

“The acquisition of military equipment and its deployment in our communities adversely impacts the public’s safety and welfare, including increased risk of civilian deaths, significant risks to civil rights, civil liberties, and physical and psychological well-being, and incurment of significant financial costs. Military equipment is more frequently deployed in low-income Black and Brown communities, meaning the risks and impacts of police militarization are experienced most acutely in marginalized communities.

“(b) The public has a right to know about any funding, acquisition, or use of military equipment by state or local government officials, as well as a right to participate in any government agency’s decision to fund, acquire, or use such equipment.

“(c) Decisions regarding whether and how military equipment is funded, acquired, or used should give strong consideration to the public’s welfare, safety, civil rights, and civil liberties, and should be based on meaningful public input.

“(d) Legally enforceable safeguards, including transparency, oversight, and accountability measures, must be in place to protect the public’s welfare, safety, civil rights, and civil liberties before military equipment is funded, acquired, or used.

“(e) The lack of a public forum to discuss the acquisition of military equipment jeopardizes the relationship police have with the community, which can be undermined when law enforcement is seen as an occupying force rather than a public safety service.”

While The Fullerton Police Department does not possess any tactical equipment that was obtained from the Military through the 1033 program or Section 2576a of Title X of the United States Code, traditionally referred to as “Military Equipment,” the new law broadened the term “Military Equipment” to include additional items.

Here are the items on FPD’s inventory of military equipment and quantity, with a brief description and cost of each:

The Fullerton Police Department/North County SWAT deployed a Bearcat armored vehicle on Highland and Commonwealth Avenues on May 30, 2020 during protests following the murder of George Floyd. Photo by Jane Rands

Armored Vehicle (Bearcat): Operational use under the review of the SWAT Commander or appropriate team supervisor. $225,000 initial cost; $5,000 annual maintenance.

Mobile Command Truck: Contains equipment shelves and weapons racks that can hold a driver and passenger while under movement. Used as the Incident Command vehicle. $60,000 initial cost; $5,000 annual maintenance.

Black Van: Black van with row seating and open cargo space in the rear to transport operators and injured personnel. $28,000 initial cost; $5,000 annual maintenance.

M4 Rifles (13): Black, semi-automatic 11.5″ barrel rifles. Used as the primary weapon system of the North County SWAT team. Provides accurate semi-automatic fire within a short barreled weapon platform. Can be used in multiple types of environments. $1500 per rifle.

Long Range Sniper Rifles (2): Green and tan camouflaged, bolt action, 26″ barrel rifle. 2,000 meter effective range. $1200 per rifle.

40mm Multi Launcher (2): Black 40mm launcher with cylindrical magazine and stock equipped with red dot optic, able to hold six rounds. Used to gain compliance of aggressive or uncooperative subjects, range approximately 100 yards, able to fire six rapid shots without reloading. $3200 per launcher.

Pepperball (1): This non-lethal system fires an irritant chemical agent that is projected by the user from a safe distance. $600 per launcher (not including ammunition).

LRAD (Long Range Acoustic Device) (1): Long range communication and warning audio system. The system is used to broadcast announcements and give commands. $8,000.

Breaching Shotgun (2): A specially converted shotgun designed to fire a specialty round to defeat or destroy deadbolts, hinges, and locks. $500.

Rip Ram (2): Long, black metal tube with a pull pin, handles, and hook used to open locked screen doors and windows. $400.

Ram (2): Long, black, cylindrical metal tool with handles for two operator use, used to breach doors rapidly and efficiently. $400.

Mini Ram (2): Small, black and silver, lightweight ram, used to breach doors with a single operator. $550.

5.11 Breachers Kit (1): A heavy duty backpack containing four breaching tools. $700.

DJI Matrice 300 RTK (1): Drone platform with directional sensors and positioning systems. Equipped with a first-person viewing camera. $11,349.

Unmanned Aircraft Systems (DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise Zoom) (3): Drone platform with directional position sensors and a positioning system. Initial purchase (1) DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise Zoom Drone Package $2,495.00, Initial purchase (2) DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise Drone Packages $1,950.

Unmanned Aircraft Systems (DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise Dual) (1): Drone platform with directional sensors and a positioning system. Initial purchase DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise Dual Package $3,350.00.

Unmanned Aircraft Systems (DJI Mini) (2): Drone platform with directional sensors and a positioning system. DJI Mini is an ultralight and foldable drone with 4K camera. $499.

AR-15 rifles (160): To be used as precision weapons to address a threat with more precision and/or at greater distances than a handgun, if present and feasible. $160,000.

Sponge Gun (25): To compel an individual to cease his/her actions when such munitions present a reasonable option. A verbal warning of the intended use of the device should precede its application. $26,000.

Sponge Round (40mm) (40): Lightweight, high speed projectile consisting of a plastic body and sponge nose. Used for crowd control, patrol, and tactical applications. $1,500.

Less Lethal Shotgun (46): Remington Beanbag Shotgun. $36,000.

Beanbag Rounds (350): $500.

Training Gun (uses only paint rounds) (13): $7,800.

SIMS (paint rounds) (4,000): $3,000.

Blackhawk Breaching Tool (Ram) (4): Forced Entry Tool designed to quickly breach door minimizing risk to officers. $1,400.

Blackhawk Breaching Tool (Sledge) (4): Forced Entry Tool designed to quickly breach door minimizing risk to officers. $500.

Mobile Command Post for truck or SUV (2): To provide a mobile command post for supervisors. $20,000.

Shield Spike Hammerspike L1 (1): L-shaped, steel breaching tool with a mushroom shaped hardened steel tip. $340.

Halligan (2): Tool used to break through the latch of a swinging door by forcing the tool between the door and doorjamb and prying the two apart, striking it with a sledgehammer or a flat head axe. $400.

5.56 SIMS (1,000 rounds): Non-lethal cartridges that leave a detergent based, water-soluble color marking compound. $1 per round.

9MM SIMS (1000 Rounds): Non-lethal cartridges that leave a detergent based, water soluble color marking compound. The visible impacts allow accurate assessment of simulated lethality. $0.80 per round.

Tactical Diversionary Device (37): A single-use, non-reloadable device that delivers a sound and light output that are noticeable in day or night conditions. $47.58 per unit.

Breaching Shotgun Shells (102 rounds): The 12 Gauge TKO Breaching Round is an ammunition utilized by the Breaching Shotgun. This allows the users to defeat various locking mechanisms that would otherwise hinder one’s ability to gain entry into a specified structure. $6.90 per shell.

Pepperball Projectiles (500 rounds): Non-lethal projectile containing a powdered chemical that irritates the eyes and nose in a manner similar to pepper spray. $20-$50 per pack of 20.

37MM/40MM Chemical Agent Ferret Projectiles (110 rounds): The Ferret rounds are designed to disperse a nonflammable chemical agent creating temporary discomfort through pain compliance. The ferret rounds are typically utilized at a distance and are used for barricaded subjects. $25 per projectile.

SPEDE Heats (12): A single use, non-reloadable device that discharges smoke through the canister. The smoke that is discharged is a chemical-laden agent that is designed to cause temporary discomfort through pain compliance for potentially dangerous or violent subjects. This grenade is designed specifically for outdoor use. This can be used in crowd control situations or other outdoor incidents. $26 per unit.

Flameless Tri Chambers (1): A single use, non-reloadable device that discharges smoke through the canister without creating any fire. The smoke that is discharged is a chemical-laden agent that is designed to cause temporary discomfort through pain compliance for potentially dangerous or violent subjects. $42 per unit.

Pocket Tactical CS Grenade (4): This is a launchable grenade, however it is normally used as a signaling or covering device. Though this device is slightly over four inches in length, it produces a smoke cloud so fast it appears to be an enveloping screen produced by a full-size tactical grenade. $23.50 per unit.

40MM Direct Impact Round OC/CS/Inert/Marking (100 rounds): An excellent solution whether you need to incapacitate a single subject or control a crowd. When loaded with a green marking agent, the Direct Impact LE can be used to indicate the aggressor in a crowd or riot situation to the team on the ground. $25 per unit.

A full inventory of Fullerton’s military equipment is available to the public online or by e-mailing militaryequipment@FullertonPD.org or by calling (714) 738-2885. This is also the avenue through which members of the public may comment on or ask questions about FPD’s military equipment.

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3 replies »

  1. I support our wonderful police officers in Fullerton but wow – 40mm Multi Launcher (2): Black 40mm launcher with cylindrical magazine and stock equipped with red dot optic, able to hold six rounds. Used to gain compliance of aggressive or uncooperative subjects, range approximately 100 yards, able to fire six rapid shots without reloading. $3200 per launcher. Really? Do we need this kind of tool or many of the others? And why wasn’t the paper notified of the public meeting to review? On a related topic – has anyone else seen the “recruitment” video on the police department website? Please check it out and see if you think it will attract the type of officer we want in Fullerton. I think it is a disturbing message and will attract the type we have had to fire for various wrong doings. I have contacted the chief and council to complain about the video with no answer from either.

  2. If the paper wasn’t notified, I wonder how aware the public was. The City Council ought to be asking more questions on behalf of citizens, in my view. Police — not just in Fullerton but around Orange County — might think about dropping the defensiveness that’s been on display. Accountability comes with the enormous and dramatically increasing power you’re being entrusted with, good men and good women. This is a necessary law. Hard to believe it didn’t exist from the jump. Also, thanks for breaking down the cost to taxpayers. It’s a lot of money.

  3. The Observer quotes officer McCaskill saying that “the policy has been posted on the Police Department’s website for a month, and they have received no questions or comments from the public” but the military equipment policy is buried in the department’s web site under the heading “Government Code”. Who would know to even look there?

    In addition, the new state law AB 481 requires use policies for the military equipment to identify what bodies will have independent oversight for compliance with the policies. Fullerton PD’s policy just says the SWAT commander and the operator will be responsible for “compliance mechanisms.” That’s not independent. The city council should revisit this.

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