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Davis, California

Monday, July 22, 2024

Davis Police Department hosts community meeting regarding military equipment

In compliance with state law, Davis police gave the annual update on new military equipment 


By OLIVIA HOKR — city@theaggie.org


On May 28, the Davis Police Department held an annual community gathering at the Davis Police Station to report any new military equipment, a need for new equipment or a need to replace existing equipment. Police officials wanted to discuss the type of chemical agents the department possesses amongst other equipment.

Deputy Chief Todd Henry and Lieutenant Dan Beckwith gave a brief presentation with information about the different types of equipment and current quantities and allowed time for community members to ask questions.

“AB [Assembly Bill] 481 requires law enforcement to disclose what equipment they use that falls under the classification, according to the state of California, as military equipment,” Henry said. “Every year we have to report again and ask [the Davis City Council] for a new ordinance to allow the continued use of [the equipment].”

The term military equipment refers to armored rescue vehicles, chemical agents such as smoke canisters and tear gas, rifles, breaching tools and unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). None of the equipment owned by the Davis Police Department was purchased nor given by the military, according to Henry. The state determined which materials are considered military equipment.

The police department is currently in possession of one armored rescue vehicle, 13 small unmanned aircraft systems, about 50 different chemical agents, 13 noise flash diversionary devices, 45 AR-15s as well as a number of other rifles and two breaching shotguns, according to the Military Equipment Annual Staff Report, which can be found on the city of Davis website.

“The only real change in this policy from the last is the chemical agents: same amount, same type, different manufacturer,” Henry said. “Our old chemical agents had expired so they had to be destroyed.”

A few community members asked questions about the use of certain devices and the cooperation between the police department and the city council. One man who has lived in Davis for 55 years inquired about the last time chemical agents needed to be used in the community, to which Beckwith responded.

“I’ve been here 17 years, and we’ve never used any chemical agents in a crowd control environment,” Beckwith said. “We have used those as far as tactical operations in a barricaded-subject type scenario. As far as crowd control, that’s not something that happens, and we’ve talked about further restrictions of the law to make it an even higher unlikelihood for that to occur.”

The same community member also made a statement regarding the challenges that can occur within city councils and acknowledged that the Davis Police Department and the Davis City Council can combine efforts to work efficiently.

“City councils and police accountability commissions are sometimes very limited in their knowledge base, so I’ve seen that there are challenges there, but the way you have established criteria, I think, is good,” the community member said.

The aim of AB 481 is to create transparency and allow cities and their residents to be aware of what their police department is buying and what policies they have around that equipment.

“Our goal is to try and be as transparent as we can,” Henry said. “I think it’s really important for our community to be involved and engaged and aware of what your police department is doing.”


Written by: Olivia Hokr — city@theaggie.org 



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