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Council Conducts First Reading of ‘Military Equipment’ Use Policy Ordinance

Published on Monday, June 13, 2022 | 7:18 pm

The Pasadena Police department’s Bearcat armored vehicle (at right) seen supporting officers in tactical kit working to prevent a spate of looting in Old Pasadena in June, 2020. [Image via Twitter]
The City Council successfully conducted the first reading of an ordinance establishing a policy that requires local police to disclose and obtain approvals from the City Council before obtaining military equipment.

The policy was previously changed to include some clarification on the use of .50 caliber rifles, which the department has to stop moving vehicles.

The policy states that the weapons cannot be used on people unless it is absolutely necessary to save lives.

The policy takes into account some of the unique events which lead to the need for some items that other cities may not have. The city works with Homeland Security and the FBI during the Rose Parade and the Rose Bowl Game.

Any new purchases must be reviewed by the city’s oversight committee and/or the Public State law requires an annual review of the city’s policy. The policy also went before the city’s Police Oversight Commission.

The city’s inventory includes a robot used to help de-escalate situations and determine if a suspect is armed, a drone, an armored Bearcat vehicle, a mobile command post, lock-defeating rounds that allow quick access during active shooter and hostage situations, .50 caliber precision rifle and ammunition, flashbang devices, tear gas and other chemical agents, barricade penetrating rounds, foam rounds, pepperball launcher, 40mm less-lethal rounds.

Only three items were obtained from the military — Bell OH-58 helicopters — all other equipment in PPD’s inventory has been sourced through direct purchases and seizures.

None of the military items was deployed during recent protests.

The City Council recently approved the purchase of a $1.8 million Mobile Command Center truck that will replace the department’s obsolete command vehicle that’s been in service for more than 20 years.

Local critics opposed the expenditure, claiming the vehicle will be used to conduct surveillance.

The unit is designed to operate as a mobile police station. Local police officials told Pasadena Now emphatically that the vehicle is not an armored or Bearcat vehicle.

In 2014, the department returned a Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP), an armored personnel carrier vehicle, after the Pasadena Weekly reported police had acquired two of the vehicles, unbeknown to elected officials.

The city obtained the MRAP vehicle through the U.S. Department of Defense’s Excess Property Program, also known as Program 1033, which allows police departments to obtain military equipment.

The program came under fire after the riots in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014 which were sparked by the officer-involved shooting death of unarmed teenager Michael Brown.

During the riots, Ferguson police responded by using MRAPs and military-grade weapons against protesters.

President Barack Obama established limitations on the program, but those limitations were rolled back by President Donald Trump in 2017.

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