Calif. city police seeking approval to purchase military-style gear

The National City Police Department is seeking permission from the City Council to purchase shotguns, rifles and ammunition as part of a state law that took effect last year requiring law enforcement agencies to ask before buying.

Its Annual Military Equipment Use Report shows the department wants $50,500 worth of military-style gear.

Most of the total cost would go toward purchasing 40 shotguns to replace 33 less lethal shotguns over 30 years old. All new shotguns would be converted to less lethal ones that would fire beanbag rounds and have orange grips to indicate that they are “for less lethal use,” said Police Chief Jose Tellez.

The report also includes a request to replenish its inventory of less lethal ammunition and two rifles that would substitute older rifles used by the department’s SWAT unit.

NCPD is requesting to acquire the following:

Remington Shotguns / 40 / $544.31 each;

Accuracy International AT Rifles / 2 / $4,900 each;

.308 Rifle Ammunition / 8,000 rounds / $499 per case of 500 rounds;

12 Gauge Less Lethal Munitions / 1,500 rounds / $5.10 per round;

Glass Breaker / 250 / $77.19 per container of 125;

SABRE .68 Caliber Less Lethal Projectiles / 1,500 / $789.38 per container of 375 count.

If the City Council approves the department’s requests, the city will use money from its general fund to cover costs. The police department’s budget makes up about 46 percent, or $30 million, of the municipality’s $65.1 million in expenditures, according to its fiscal 2022-23 budget.

The 75-page equipment use report includes information about each requested item such as life spans, the purpose for which they will be used, who will be authorized to use them and the training needed, costs for maintenance and who manufactures them. It also lists the department’s existing inventory of military-style equipment and its descriptions.

A summary of any concerns received regarding the equipment must also be included in the report, which says the department has received none on any of its gear listed within the inventory.

Law enforcement agencies are now required by the state to produce these reports annually and publicly share them with the public and City Council.

Assembly Bill 481 mandates that police departments receive permission from their governing boards, such as a city council or board of supervisors, to continue using the equipment and before buying new tools. The law was passed to improve transparency and oversight of costs associated with law enforcement use of military-style equipment, such as grenades, armored vehicles and drones.

The City Council last March approved the police department’s policy that established the “guidelines for the approval, acquisition, and reporting requirements of military equipment,” reads NCPD’s policy.

On Tuesday, police officials held their first community meeting, as required by law, to share the report before presenting it to elected officials.

“Our goal is, we want people to know what we are using our equipment for and to respond to critical incidents and ultimately to protect the community,” said Police Capt. Chris Sullivan. “If we can evaluate what we’re doing with the input from the community, then that’s what we’re all about.”

Tellez said the department expects to present the report and make its requests before the City Council at the April 18 meeting, for which the public will have another opportunity to provide feedback.


© 2023 The San Diego Union-Tribune

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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