AB 481 - Military Equipment Use Policy

Military Equipment Funding, Acquisition and Use Policy

Effective January 1, 2022, Assembly Bill (AB) 481 requires law enforcement agencies to obtain approval of the applicable governing body (City Council), by adoption of a military equipment use policy prior to taking certain actions relating to the funding, acquisition, or use of military equipment, as defined.


Assembly Bill (AB) 481 requires each law enforcement agency's governing body to adopt a written military use policy by ordinance in addition to other requirements by the bill. The following are required:

  • Publish the draft military equipment use policy to the Police Department’s website 30 days ahead of a public hearing to approve the policy.
  • Obtain approval by the applicable governing body (Mayor and City Council), by adoption of a military equipment use policy prior to taking certain actions relating to the funding, acquisition, or use of military equipment, as defined. (See definitions below)
  • Publish an annual report by the law enforcement agency to include each type of military equipment approved by the governing body.
  • Annual review of the military equipment use ordinance by the governing body, and option to either disapprove a renewal of a type of military equipment or amend the military equipment use policy if it determines that the military equipment does not comply with standards for approval.
  • Hold at least one well-publicized and conveniently located community engagement meeting within 30 days of submitting and publicly releasing the annual military equipment report.

Definition of Military Equipment

AB 481 designates the following categories of items as military equipment:

  • Unmanned, remotely piloted, powered aerial or ground vehicles
  • Mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles or armored personnel carriers
  • High mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicles (HMMWV), two-and-one-half-ton trucks, five-ton trucks, or wheeled vehicles that have a breaching or entry apparatus attached
  • Tracked armored vehicles that provide ballistic protection to their occupants and utilize a tracked system instead of wheels for forward motion
  • Command and control vehicles that are either built or modified to facilitate the operational control and direction of public safety units
  • Weaponized aircraft, vessels, or vehicles of any kind
  • Battering rams, slugs, and breaching apparatuses that are explosive in nature 
  • Firearms and ammunition of .50 caliber or greater, excluding standard-issue shotguns and standard-issue shotgun ammunition
  • Specialized firearms and ammunition of less than .50 caliber, including firearms and accessories identified as assault weapons in Penal Code § 30510 and Penal Code §30515, with the exception of standard-issue handguns
  • Any firearm or firearm accessory that is designed to launch explosive projectiles
  • “Flashbang” grenades and explosive breaching tools, “tear gas,” and “pepper balls,” excluding standard, service-issued handheld pepper spray
  • Taser Shockwave, microwave weapons, water cannons, and long-range acoustic devices
  • Projectile launch platforms and their associated munitions including 40mm projectile launchers, “bean bag,” rubber bullet, and specialty impact munition weapons
  • Any other equipment as determined by a governing body or a state agency to require additional oversight

Supporting Documents

San Pablo Police AB481 Policy