In response to community demands to take war gear off the streets, California passed new legislation in 2021. This bill, CA AB481, gives community members insight into and the power to decide how militarized our local law enforcement should be. We are looking for supporters who can help reach out to other Chico residents, review policies, and/or join us in meeting with members of Chico City Council.
This is an opportunity to press for de-militarization. Militarized policing has been constructed over a long period of time, and has become embedded in the thinking, budgets, and institutional prerogatives of both law enforcement and citizens. This policy is built on narratives of fear and racism, as well as a history and culture that embraces war. It's been disproportionately used on people of color and other marginalized groups. California local law enforcement agencies have received, for decades now, more military equipment than any other state, without clear protocols for its use.
Chico Police Department (CPD) is mandated to provide an annual military equipment report, for public, as well as Chico City Council review....to include : inventory; the purpose of and how used; complaints, internal audits, or violations of the Military Equipment Use Policy; and total annual costs and funding sources for the equipment. CPD must hold at least one well-publicized and conveniently located community engagement meeting, for the public's feedback on the report.
CPD's military gear includes a tank-like armored vehicle, drones, submachine guns, and much more. As required by CA AB481, our City Council approved the CPD Military Equipment Use Policy 709 in May 2022. However, we believe that Policy #709 is not as clear and complete as the Council should require it to be. The following are only three of many Policy #709 examples of a significant lack of clarity and completeness:
1. PROHIBITED USES for the listed military equipment;
2. CPD PROTOCALS FOR COMMUNICATION with those suffering a MENTAL ILLNESS/CRISIS and with NON-ENGLISH SPEAKERS 3. INDEPENDENT MECHANISMS TO ENSURE OVERSIGHT AND COMPLIANCE.
CA AB481 states 'legally enforceable safeguards, including transparency, oversight, and accountability measures, must be in place to protect the public's welfare, safety, civil rights, and civil liberties before military equipment is funded, acquired, or used.' "
It is time to have conversations with Chico City Council members about what the annual military equipment report should include, so that our Police Department prepares a useful report.
Let's make our voices heard! Join our Concerned Community for Justice (CC4J) working group to make sure that our City Council and Police Department fully comply with our "first in the nation" new law. We will ask challenging questions, brainstorm, research, connect with the media, the community at large, and beyond. Communities across the California are coming to terms with these issues, so we are not alone.
Please sign up to help with this important work, and encourage others whom you think would support this work. We will keep you posted for our first meeting soon after the first of the new year. CC4J Volunteer