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 requires 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 the City Council approval process must begin by May 1st, 2022 and 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.

 The full text of AB 481 is available here

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.

Requirements of AB 481

In seeking approval, UCPD shall submit a proposed military equipment use policy to the City Council and make those documents available on the law enforcement agency’s internet website at least 30 days prior to any public hearing concerning the military equipment.  UCPD's draft Lexipol Policy 709 is available to view here.   In compliance with AB481, this hearing will be conducted as an agenda item during open session (more details listed below.)

The AB 481 defined list of military equipment currently in UCPD’s possession is included in the draft 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.   

AB 481 also requires UCPD to publish a Military Equipment Use Policy Annual Report.  Our Annual Report will include information related to the use of military equipment, any complaints received, any internal audits or other information about violations of this policy, the cost of such use and other similar information.  Our first Annual Report can be expected in 2023. 

This webpage will be utilized for distribution of any updates to the above materials as well as for the Annual Report.  

Public Input and City Council Meeting Regarding AB 481

In compliance with AB 481, the City Council approval process commenced on April 14th, 2022, with the posting of our proposed Military Equipment Use draft policy and submission of our draft policy to the City Council.  In addition, UCPD plans to present our policy to the City Council and community during open session on May 24th, 2022.  This public hearing will include time for community input, questions and concerns related to this bill and/or our proposed policy.  The hearing will include a police department presentation dedicated to the following:

  • Purpose of the new legislation
  • Definition of military equipment
  • UCPD’s military equipment inventory
  • Community engagement and feedback