Police Department Military equipment use policy

Assembly Bill 481 - Military Equipment Use Policy

On January 1st, 2022, Assembly Bill 481 (AB 481) was enacted which required the City of Union City adopt a military equipment use policy by way of a resolution and ordinance. The ordinance must allow for the continued and future use of military equipment by the Union City Police Department (UCPD) to safeguard the public’s welfare, safety, civil rights, and liberties. Per AB 481, City Council approval must be obtained prior to engaging in any of the following:

  • Obtaining military equipment or funds for purchase. This includes applying for grants or receiving donations.  
  • Collaborating with another law enforcement agency in the deployment or other use of military equipment within the territorial jurisdiction of Union City. 
  • Using any new or existing military equipment not previously approved by the City Council. 

On May 24th, 2022, we held a public hearing which included opportunities for community feedback. On June 14th, 2022, The City Council approved our policy and added Chapter 2.62, “Military Equipment Use Policy” to the Union City Municipal Code.

The AB 481 defined list of military equipment currently in UCPD’s possession is included in the policy, as well as each item’s purpose, authorized use, expected lifespan and fiscal impact. The policy also provides direction for a community member wishing to file a complaint or address a concern related to use of the equipment.

Annual Report

AB 481 also requires UCPD to publish an annual military equipment use report.  The report must contain the following information:

  • A summary of any complaints or concerns received concerning the military equipment.
  • The results of any internal audits or information about violations of the military equipment use policy.  This includes any actions taken in response.
  • The total annual cost for each type of military equipment, including acquisition, personnel, training, transportation, maintenance, storage, upgrade, and other ongoing costs, and from what source funds will be provided for the military equipment in the calendar year following submission of the annual military equipment report.
  • The quantity possessed for each type of military equipment.
  • If the law enforcement agency intends to acquire additional military equipment in the next year, the quantity sought for each type of military equipment.
  • A summary of how the military equipment was used and the purpose of its use.

Community Engagement Meeting

UCPD gives strong consideration to the public’s welfare, safety, civil rights, and civil liberties. Our department values meaningful public input related to the use of military equipment in our community.  On March 28th, UCPD held our annual Military Equipment Use Report Community Engagement Meeting in our City Council chambers.  This meeting included a short presentation and provided community members with opportunities to provide input and ask questions regarding our report. 

UCPD then held a public hearing, on May 9, 2023, during a normally scheduled City Council meeting.  During the hearing, our policy was reapproved by the City Council.   Prior to the policy being approved, the hearing included time for community input and any questions related to this bill or our proposed policy.  

AB 481 Definition of Military Equipment

Generally speaking, military equipment does not extend to standard issued equipment and does not outright prohibit any particular kind of equipment.  The following is a summary of the categories of equipment defined as military equipment under AB 481:

  • Unmanned, remotely piloted, powered aerial or ground vehicles.
  • Mine-resistant ambush-protected (MRAP) vehicles or armored personnel carriers. Police versions of standard consumer vehicles are specifically excluded.
  • High mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicles (HMMWV), commonly referred to as Humvees, two and one-half-ton trucks, five-ton trucks, or wheeled vehicles that have a breaching or entry apparatus attached. 
  • Tracked armored vehicles that provide ballistic protection to their occupants and utilize a tracked system instead of wheels for forward motion.
  • Command and control vehicles that are either built or modified to facilitate the operational control and direction of public safety units.
  • Weaponized aircraft, vessels, or vehicles of any kind.
  • Battering rams, slugs, and breaching apparatuses that are explosive in nature.
  • Firearms and/or ammunition of .50 caliber or greater not including standard issue shotguns.
  • Specialized firearms and ammunition of less than .50 caliber, including assault weapons as defined in Sections 30510 and 30515 of the Penal Code, with the exception of standard issue service weapons and ammunition of less than .50 caliber that are issued to officers.
  • Any firearm or firearm accessory that is designed to launch explosive projectiles.
  • “Flashbang” grenades and explosive breaching tools, “tear gas,” and “pepper balls,” excluding standard, service-issued handheld pepper spray.
  • Taser Shockwave, microwave weapons, water cannons, and the Long-Range Acoustic Device (LRAD).
  • The following projectile launch platforms and their associated munitions: 40mm projectile launchers, “bean bag,” rubber bullet, and specialty impact munition (SIM) weapons.
  • Any other equipment as determined by a governing body or a state agency to require additional oversight.