Stop the Militarization of Our Police Forces

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Current Status: 

AB 3131, a bill introduced by California State Assemblymembers Todd Gloria (D-San Diego) and David Chiu (D-San Francisco), would require California police departments to obtain local government approval before purchasing military-grade equipment through the federal 1033 program, a federal program that sells surplus military equipment  to state and local police departments.

“State and local law enforcement are a public safety service, not an occupying force. Militarization is not necessary in order to keep our neighborhoods safe,” said Assemblymember Todd Gloria. “If law enforcement determines it needs military-caliber equipment, I believe the public has a right to know.

The bill is sponsored by the ACLU of California and Indivisible California.

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.

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 M-16 assault rifles, 3 M-79 grenade launchers, and 1 mine-resistant vehicle. That same year, the San Diego Unified School District acquired 1 mine-resistant ambush protected vehicle, but ultimately returned it following negative responses from the community.

If enacted, AB 3131 would go into effect on January 1, 2019. Law enforcement agencies that currently possess military-grade equipment, as defined in the bill, would need to have the approval process in place with their governing body by May 1, 2019.

“Policing has become dangerously and unnecessarily militarized, with low-income people and people of color bearing the brunt of the harms over the years,” said Lizzie Buchen, legislative advocate for the ACLU of California, who is a sponsor of the bill.

Media Status

AB 3131, a bill introduced by California State Assemblymembers Todd Gloria (D-San Diego) and David Chiu (D-San Francisco), will first be heard in a State Assembly committee before being sent to the State Assembly for a vote.

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