SACRAMENTO (CBS SF) – A Bay Area lawmaker’s proposal to regulate the acquisition of military equipment by law enforcement is heading to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s desk.
Assembly Bill 481 by Assemblymember David Chiu (D-San Francisco) cleared its final legislative hurdle on Thursday on a 48-25 vote in the Assembly.
The measure would require law enforcement agencies to receive approval from their governing bodies before acquiring military equipment or seeking funds for equipment purchases.
“Our streets in California are not war zones, and our citizens are not enemy combatants,” Chiu said in a statement. “Law enforcement are our community partners in public safety, and the weapons and equipment they use should reflect that reality.”
Chiu’s office cited instances where police used military equipment to clear demonstrations held in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, such as officers in Walnut Creek using military vehicles to disperse protesters. The assemlymember said at a demonstration in Sacramento, police wore riot helmets and aimed assault rifles from armored vehicles at peaceful demonstrators.
“If we learned anything from last summer’s protests, it is that communities should have a say in how they are policed. This policy gives residents a voice,” Chiu went on to say.
Police in all 50 states have acquired military equipment through the Department of Defense’s 1033 Program, which allows for the free transfer of surplus military equipment to police departments.
AB481 is among several police reform measures that have passed the legislature this year and are up for consideration by Newsom. Assembly Bill 491 by Assemblymember Mike Gipson (D-Los Angeles) would expand the state’s ban on chokeholds.
Also up for consideration is Senate Bill 2 by State Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Gardena), which would establish a way for bad officers to lose their badges. California is one of only four states that does not have a way to decertify officers for misconduct.