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San Jose regulates police use of military equipment

San Jose police car
Thomas Hawk
Flickr / Creative Commons
San Jose police car

The San Jose Police Department, or SJPD, has more than 700 pieces of military-grade gear, totaling several million dollars, according to the military equipment inventory. On Tuesday, police officials also requested more than a million dollars for two armoredvehicles.

At the same meeting, a new policy was unanimously approved by the city council, guiding how the SJPD should pay for, acquire and use certain types of military-level gear, including items it already owns, like armored vehicles, various rifles and shotguns and unmanned aircraft or drones.

This new policy stems from a state law approved last September, called Assembly Bill 481, or AB 481. The measure requires the regulation of military-level equipment already obtained by law enforcement agencies.

The law also requires police departments to provide annual, public reports on how the equipment was used, complaints received, internal audits or policy violations and costs of equipment use, according to San Jose Police Chief Anthony Mata.

Some criminal justice advocates argue that AB 481 provides transparency, but not accountability.

Mayor Sam Liccardo asked that SJPD return next year with restrictions defining how police will and will not use the equipment.

Sunday is a news producer for Crosscurrents' summer training program.