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Police Say No Complaints Filed About Department Use of Military Equipment

Published on Monday, June 10, 2024 | 4:00 am

The Pasadena Police Department reported not receiving any complaints about its use of military equipment this fiscal year. 

“We have not received any [complaints or concerns] thus far,” Lt. Monica Cuellar said at Thursday’s Community Police Oversight Commission meeting when she presented the annual report on the Department’s use of military equipment from June 2023 to June 2024. 

Cuellar also said results of an internal audit showed that the Pasadena Police Department has not violated the policy when it comes to its use. 

Assembly Bill 481, which became a law in 2021, requires police departments to report to the public the use of their military equipment and the complaints received regarding its use. 

The law also requires future purchases of military equipment to be approved by the City Council. 

To date, the City police 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, among other items.

As per the report, the Pasadena Police Department deployed the Bearcat approximately 20 times this fisal year. The report showed that the use is mostly for training purposes. 

In December 2023, the Pasadena Police Department used flashbang equipment.

Some members of the public and the commission, including Chair Esprit Loren Jones, expressed concerns about the use of the military equipment.

“It’s quite terrifying knowing that there are military equipment out there and even furthermore, seeing the use of it. We have all these things that we actually don’t use. I know that there are things that are considered less lethal, but they can very much be lethal in the deployment of them,” said Chair Jones. “Someone with a heart condition or asthma even and you could actually cause them to expire by the use of these things. It’s really scary.”

While the community has expressed some concerns about the equipment’s use, Cuellar assured that it is for de-escalation purposes. 

“It’s important again to know that although they may be seen as violent items, they’re used for purpose of de-escalation, for purpose of safety. We’re protecting the city with these items,” Cuellar said. “We have very big events so these are the things that our department needs in order to protect our community.”

Cuellar also said the items that the Pasadena Police Department use are vetted before they go out and officers use them. “There’s a supervisor involved in everything we do.”

According to Cuellar, the Pasadena Police Department has no plans to purchase military equipment for the upcoming fiscal year. 

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