For this month's newsletter we decided to sit down with one of our SJPC Counsel members to talk about what's been developing with the SPD's military equipment use policy. Read on to learn more!
Item 7 - regarding the SPD's military equipment use policy - was discussed at the Law & Legislation Committee meeting on 6/21.
What exactly is this policy?
This policy came about after the CA state government passed AB481, which dictates that all law enforcement bodies have a policy regarding the use of military equipment, they have to be given the okay by their respective local government bodies in order to acquire new equipment, and they have to report to that same local government body annually on how this equipment is being used.
Two important stipulations regarding this policy are:
1. The military equipment use policy must be approved within 180 days from it being drafted & shared
2. If the policy is not passed within that time frame, the police department cannot use their military equipment
What happened at this most recent meeting?
The meeting from 6/21 was a follow-up from the March meeting where the policy was originally presented. The Sac Police Review Commission (PRC) has reviewed this draft policy and produced recommendations, which were then sent to City Council with explanations regarding their concerns and context.
So, the million dollar question is: has the SPD met with the PRC?
Shockingly, the answer is NO.
At this meeting the Law & Leg Committee voted to pass the draft along to the full City Council - with caveat that the Sac PD has to meet with PRC and that they need to host public meetings to discuss the policy. The PRC has already asked the SPD Deputy Chief to have law enforcement present the policy at a PRC meeting, but they were told that they should simply watch the Law & Leg meeting that the SPD was present at. This probably goes without saying - but that it not remotely the same thing.
The SPD has strong incentive to get policy approval within the 180 day window from the March meeting because they will not be able to use any of their military equipment without it. There will be community meetings regarding the policy within the next month, BUT there are some concerns within the advocacy community that the PD may try to run out the clock on the Council. What we mean by that is - they may intentionally delay the necessary steps towards getting the policy approved (meeting with the PRC, for example) so they can claim that needing to pass the policy is an urgent/emergency situation, and the Council will acquiesce because that's basically all they ever do when it comes to the SPD. Were they to do this, and therefore NOT fulfill policy requirements they could be sued.
It's also worth noting the ACLU has strongly recommended changing the policy (as it's written now) and the SPD has also refused to meet with them.
You can read a little more on SPD's military equipment use policy towards the bottom of this previous SJPC blog post.
You can also check out the document linked below that was produced by American Friends Service Committee California Healing Justice and Amnesty International Sacramento Chapter (website linked here) as a previous toolkit for making public comment on the SPD's military equipment use policy.