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Pasadena Police Inform City’s Oversight Committee About Department’s Military-Grade Weapons and Intended Use

Published on Monday, May 9, 2022 | 5:00 am

Pasadena Police spokesman Lt. Bill Grisafe addressed the Community Police Oversight Commission (CPOC) on Thursday to brief Commissioners about “military” equipment owned by the department pursuant to the new Military Equipment Use Policy law.

Assembly Bill 481, which took effect in January 2022, requires police departments to draft a military equipment use policy disclosing all of their military-grade weapons, their capabilities, purchase cost and purpose, as part of a broader effort to increase transparency and accountability within police departments.

The bill also requires departments to give an annual report on all costs related to the military weapons and to get approval from the City Council before purchasing new military weapons, among a few other requirements.

Specialized equipment in the Pasadena Police dept.’s inventory, as reported by Grisafe, include a RoboteX Avatar Tactical Robot with extended manipulator arm costing $53,624, two Sky-Hero Loki MK2 Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) costing $21,649, one BearCat Armored Rescue Vehicle costing $280,749, one 50 Caliber Precision Rifle costing $8,800 and 70 pieces of 50 Caliber Ammunition costing $675 each, among other items.

“Pasadena is an international destination. We have large events here. We have the Rose Parade, Rose Bowl events. We have concerts, we have universities, we have business centers,” Grisafe said. “The city has just about everything anybody could want and it makes it a target for terrorist attacks, especially our New Year’s events.”

Grisafe clarified that Pasadena police specialized weapons are not intended to be used on people, but i

If the need arises, Grisafe said, this materiel may be used during critical incidents particularly school shootings, vehicle attacks, hostage rescue, barricaded suspect situations or violent demonstrations.

“We rarely use these items. We have them available to us so that in the event we have a critical incident, we can pull them out, but access to them is minimized and use of them is minimized as well,” Grisafe said.

“We need to be careful. We need to prepare in the event that we do have some kind of attack that we can resolve relatively quickly,” Grisafe added.

Members of the CPOC expressed their concerns on deployment of the specialized equipment saying the city should ensure it will not be used against people.

“I understand there is a real concern in regards to public safety but there is a problem when our city’s approach to dealing with violence isn’t to diffuse it but to meet it with superior violence. That to me creates and reinforces a culture of violence within the city that ultimately harms all of our residents whether at the hands of the police or not,” Commissioner Raúl Ibáñez said.

“If the intention is not to use it against people then why not put it in the policy,” added Ibáñez, further saying that the language in the policy must clearly demonstrate to the public that the city is on the side of preventing violence.

“We are expressing concern about the use of some of these equipment against people,” Commissioner Alexis Abernethy said. “We want the City Council to consider the development of policies related to that.”

According to Grisafe, the draft military use equipment policy will be presented to the City Council on May 23.

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