Local Police, Military Equipment, and Racial Justice


AB 481 is a new law that requires California law enforcement agencies to propose policies about a range of militarized gear used in policing and carceral facilities, and to obtain approval of policies regulating the use of this military equipment. They must make their recommendations by May 1st, 2022,

In spring 2022, city councils and county supervisors will decide in public meetings, open to community comment, whether to adopt police and sheriff proposed policies for the use of tank-like armored vehicles, assault rifles, teargas, ‘less lethal’ launchers and munitions, drones, sound cannons and other gear often used in SWAT operations and crowd control. 

AB 481 requires approval by city councils or county supervisors. If proposed use policies are not adopted within 180 days of publication, use and purchase of military equipment is prohibited until a policy is adopted. For military equipment with an approved use policy, beginning in 2023, agencies must publish annual reports on uses of militarized equipment.

By speaking up at these public hearings, communities have an opportunity to bring transparency to militarized law enforcement gear and to push back on the widespread use of this weaponry, which has been disproportionately deployed against Black and Brown people, neighborhoods, and households. 

Law enforcement agencies will present their reasons for acquiring and using military equipment. Many will raise fear-based, worst-case scenarios, such as active shooter events. Law enforcement is unlikely to discuss the most common uses of military gear, or deployments at peaceful protests, or disparate uses and impacts on people of color. The presentations may be technical, buried in long agendas, and may be clothed in language about lethal weaponry as “tools” for “de-escalation.”

The Berkeley Friends Racial Justice Action Team is urging state-wide participation in this unusual window of opportunity. A recorded training is available online and includes the details about the legislation and talking points, as well as how to find policies/hearings and common policy problems that negatively affect communities.

Get involved. The time to act is now.
The next advocacy training for this campaign is:

March 31, 2022
5:00 PM Pacific = 6:00 PM Mountain
Click here to sign up for the training.
Click here to read AB 481.
Click here for more information on AB481.


This is a community issue, so please share with your network.


from Barbara Atwell, Berkeley Friends Meeting (3/24/2022)