The Santa Barbara City Council last week approved an ordinance allowing the city’s police department to use “military equipment.”
Approval of the ordinance is mandated by an Assembly bill signed into law last year.
But what exactly is “military equipment,” and why is it needed by the Santa Barbara Police Department?
An inventory list of military equipment from the department includes one armored vehicle, multiple 40MM launchers and rounds, 35 distraction devices, 78 various breaching shotguns and a bevy of chemical agents and smoke canisters (such as pepper spray and tear gas), among other items.
The items are “employed by many law enforcement agencies across the country as best practices to enhance citizen and officer safety,” according to a council report. “The use of the military equipment identified on the inventory list is vital to SBPD’s mission and will continue to be strictly regulated through internal processes and oversight.”
The inventory list included one ground robot, which can be used to gain visual and audio data, deliver a negotiation phone, open doors and clear buildings.
The SBPD also has a mobile incident command vehicle, which can provide shelter and be used during large or critical events or natural disasters.
The 40MM launchers are less-lethal devices that can be used to launch projectiles, fire chemical agents, deploy foam projectiles and more, according to the inventory list.
Distraction devices produce a thunderous bang with a bright light and are used during situations with suspects considered to be dangerous and other high-risk arrest situations, according to the SBPD.
The police department has multiple rifles listed on its military equipment inventory, including several variants of a Colt M-16 automatic rifle, a few Tactical Operations Tango 51 .308 caliber sniper rifles, one Remington 700P .308 caliber sniper rifle, several Colt AR-15A3 rifles and many Colt M4 Carbine semi-automatic guns.
“Only members that are POST certified are authorized to use a patrol rifle. Fully-automatic rifles and .308 caliber sniper rifles are only deployed by authorized and trained SWAT personnel,” according to the department’s description.
The list of equipment is already funded and included in the department’s operating budget for 2023. No new tools that would be deemed “military equipment” are expected to be purchased at this time, according to the council’s report.
The Santa Barbara City Council adopted the ordinance related to the military equipment use policy Tuesday without any fanfare.
The inventory list and more about the equipment can be found here: www.santabarbaraca.gov/civicax/filebank/blobdload.aspx?BlobID=244808. email: firstname.lastname@example.org