Public Safety Bill headed to California State Senate

Public safety legislation authored by California State Assembly member Todd Gloria (D-San Diego) to demilitarize law enforcement, build better police and community relations, and promote government transparency passed the State Assembly Saturday and will head to the State Senate. Todd Gloria spoke to Jason Austell about the bill.

“Law enforcement, government, and the public are the foundation of every community. All of us have to work together and that’s ultimately what this bill seeks to accomplish,” said Assemblymember Todd Gloria. “AB 3131 is about building trust between police and the people they are sworn to protect. If law enforcement agencies want to arm themselves with military-grade equipment, I believe the public has a right-to-know. Adding this layer of transparency and engagement with the public acknowledges that police and the public are our partners in creating safe and liveable neighborhoods.”

AB 3131, co-authored by California State Assemblymember David Chiu (D-San Francisco), requires law enforcement to obtain approval from their local governing body (i.e., city council, board of supervisors, or other oversight board) at a public hearing prior to acquiring military-grade equipment. This effectively reverses the Trump Administration’s rescission of an Obama-era executive order (Federal Executive Order #13688) that sought to control local law enforcement’s acquisition of surplus military equipment under the U.S. Department of Defense’s 1033 program.

Under AB 3131, law enforcement agencies would need to draft and submit a “military equipment impact statement” and a “military equipment use policy” to their local governing body for review at a public hearing. The military equipment impact statement is intended to describe each piece of military equipment as well as its intended use. The military equipment use policy would dictate the specific purpose the equipment is intended to achieve and its authorized uses. Both documents would need to be publicly released prior to a hearing and the local governing body must adopt the documents by ordinance before the department could carry out the purchase or acquisition.

The bill defines military equipment to include items such as manned and unmanned aircraft; wheeled armored and tactical vehicles; weaponized vehicles (such as MRAPs or Humvees); breaching apparatus designed to provide rapid entry into a building; firearms/ammunition of .50 caliber or greater; explosives; riot gear including batons, helmets, and shields; and long-range acoustic devices.

Over the last several decades, the acquisition of military equipment by state and local entities has become more frequent. In 2014, the Los Angeles School Police Department received 61 M16 assault rifles, three M79 grenade launchers, and one mine-resistant vehicle. That same year, the San Diego Unified School District acquired a mine-resistant ambush protected vehicle, but ultimately returned it following negative responses from the community.

AB 3131 is sponsored by the ACLU of California and Indivisible California.

Assembly member Todd Gloria is the Majority Whip of the California State Assembly and proudly represents the 78th Assembly District, which includes the Cities of Coronado, Del Mar, Imperial Beach, San Diego, and Solana Beach.

Categories: California News