Gloria Successfully Leads Effort on Police Transparency, Improving Law Enforcement and Community Relations

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Legislature Passes Gloria Bill to Shine Light on Law Enforcement’s Acquisition of Military Equipment, Bill Heads to Governor

SACRAMENTO, CA – Legislation authored by California State Assemblymember Todd Gloria (D-San Diego) to inject more transparency into law enforcement’s acquisition of military-grade equipment is now headed to Governor Jerry Brown. AB 3131 would require law enforcement to take part in a public hearing before receiving or requesting military equipment used for policing.

This bill aims to build more trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve,” said Assemblymember Todd Gloria. “If law enforcement is going to arm themselves with military-grade equipment, I believe the public has a right to know. By adding the layer of transparency and engagement with the public prescribed in AB 3131, we can reinforce that the police and the public are partners in creating safe and livable neighborhoods.”

If enacted, AB 3131 would set up a new transparent public process that law enforcement agencies in California would need to participate in before acquiring military-grade equipment. This process would include:

  • Publishing a “military equipment use policy” detailing the specific purpose for each piece of military equipment;
  • Going before the agencies’ respective governing body (i.e., a city council or board of supervisors) to have the use policy considered during a public hearing; and,
  • Requiring law enforcement agencies to issue an annual report demonstrating compliance with its military equipment use policy.

Historically, state and local law enforcement agencies have obtained military-grade equipment from two sources – the federal government or private companies. The U.S. Department of Defense’s 1033 program allows surplus military equipment to be transferred to local police agencies free of charge. This easy availability has caused law enforcement’s acquisition of military equipment to increase over the last several decades with the public often unaware.

For example, in 2014, the Los Angeles School Police Department received 61 M16 assault rifles, three M79 grenade launchers, and one mine-resistant vehicle. That same year, the San Diego Unified School District acquired a mine-resistant ambush protected vehicle, but ultimately returned it following negative responses from the community.

President Obama recognized the need to improve the federal government’s regulations on the appropriate use, acquisition and transfer of military equipment to local law enforcement agencies. Under his Executive Order #13688, stakeholders developed a number of recommendations to address this issue. Last August, under President Trump, Executive Order #13688 was rescinded in addition to other oversight mechanisms of the 1033 program. AB 3131 restores some of that oversight in the State of California.

The full text of AB 3131 can be found here. The Governor has until September 30, 2018 to sign or veto all bills.