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On display: State defines ‘military equipment’ for police transparency

Less-than-lethal 40 mm projectiles, among other defined “military equipment” in possession of the Grass Valley Police Department, were on display during a community meeting inside Grass Valley City Hall council chambers on Thursday. The inventory display is part of the police’s efforts to comply with Assembly Bill 481, which requires a yearly inventory report to the local governing agency.
Photo: Elias Funez

It’s a law meant to increase the transparency of what equipment law enforcement has.

Last year, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 481, the Military Equipment Use Policy, as a way to increase the transparency of law enforcement agencies that may be in possession of certain defined items, like armored or weaponized vehicles, large-caliber firearms, explosive projectile launchers, explosive breaching tools, or flash bang grenades.

The Grass Valley Police Department doesn’t have many of them, but it does possess drones, less-than-lethal bean bags, impact weapons, and tear gas canisters, among others.

On Thursday, police displayed their defined military equipment during a special meeting in City Council chambers.

“The idea of military equipment and when you first hear it is, more aggressive and more tactical than what you think a domestic police agency might have,” Grass Valley Police Chief Alex Gammelgard said at the meeting.

Grass Valley Police Cpl. Brian Covella shows off some of the CS gas, flash bang grenades, and a bag containing CS smoke grenades during Thursday’s display of the department’s “military equipment” as now defined by California.
Photo: Elias Funez

“What’s unique about what we see here today, this may not go for all categories, but at least for things that we deploy, they’re all designed to give us additional options before using lethal force,” the chief added.

Flash bang grenades; explosive breaching tools; tear gas and pepper balls; projectile launch platforms and their associated munitions; 40 mm projectile launchers; bean bag, rubber bullet and specialty impact (SIM) weapons; along with the department’s three drones were on display.

According to the law, law enforcement agencies across the state will have to gain approval from local governments before buying such equipment. Agencies must also provide a detailed inventory of that equipment and provide an annual report.

Grass Valley Police Department’s three drones were on display during Thursday evening’s community meeting to discuss the new law.
Photo: Elias Funez
Grass Valley Deputy Chief Steve Johnson addresses those in the crowd with questions about the defined military equipment in possession by the department.
Photo: Elias Funez
Two types of flash bang grenades used by the Grass Valley Police Department were on display during Thursday’s community meeting at Grass Valley City Hall.
Photo: Elias Funez
An orange, less-than-lethal shotgun sits on the end of a table with other defined military equipment Thursday at Grass Valley City Hall.
Photo: Elias Funez

To contact Multimedia Reporter Elias Funez, email efunez@theunion.com, or call 530-477-4230


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