Council OK’s APD Weapons Report
Council OK’s APD Weapons Report
Alameda police will be equipped with 20 more AR-15s
At its April 4 meeting, the City Council approved the plan to purchase 20 additional AR-15s for the Alameda Police Department (APD). The authorization was part of the council accepting APD’s annual military equipment report.
Assembly Bill (AB) 481, which went into effect on Jan. 1, 2022, requires law enforcement agencies in California to obtain approval of a Military Equipment Use Policy by their applicable governing body prior to taking certain actions related to the funding, acquisition, or use of military equipment. The law also requires that a law enforcement agency submit to the governing body an annual military equipment report for each type of military equipment approved by the governing body for as long as the military equipment is available for use.
APD currently has 55 Colt AR-15 rifles in its stock for patrol officers. Previously, the AR-15s were assigned to police vehicles, not personnel. Now they are assigned to individual officers, however, there are not enough AR-15s to be assigned to each police officer. With 20 additional rifles APD will be able to assign a rifle to each officer.
APD Captain Matt McMullen said the rifles are better used on an individual basis because the length of polling on each weapon needs to be customized to each individual officer.
“This method of issuing and assigning equipment conforms to best practices and ensures the rifle is correctly fitted to the officer as part of increased accountability,” said McMullen.
Councilmember Malia Vella asked APD Chief of Police Nishant Joshi why the change in policy from assigning rifles to individual officers as opposed to each police vehicle.
“This boils down to accountability,” said Joshi. “I want to make sure that equipment is assigned to specific individuals so that if there are any damage to the equipment, or it’s not being properly cared for, stored, or handled, it links back to a specific officer.”
McMullen said each AR-15 will be equipped with a GPS enabled device to enhance oversight and awareness of these weapons. The report did not include how much the new weapons will cost. No police officer fired an AR-15 in the past year, but there were six incidents where officers displayed the weapon during a critical incident, according to Joshi.
Public comment on the issue was mixed. Speaker Andrew Frazier said he opposed the use of military grade equipment by APD.
“There is an old adage when you’re a hammer everything looks like a nail,” said Fraizer. “When you’re a cop at APD everything looks like a crisis. This is not a reality in which most rational people live in and it is not a world we should be building.”
“I get the feeling that a lot of Alamedans think the police are doing this for fun, or as a hobby,” said Matt Reed. “It is a sad statement that we live in a society that requires police to be armed in this way or have capabilities of this measure but that’s the fact of the society we live in.”
Ultimately, the council accepted the military equipment report and the plan to acquire 20 additional rifles with a 4-0 vote (Vella left before the vote took place but voiced her support.) Councilmembers supported the transparency aspect of the weapons acquisition and compared it to APD’s use of handguns.
“I think that the transparency and especially the accountability of assigning one weapon to one officer is something that seems to be a best practice for other weapons, so this should follow as well,” said Councilmember Tracy Jensen.
McMullen presented the annual military equipment report at the meeting. The report consisted of six categories including the intent to acquire more equipment. Other categories included:
• how the military equipment was used
• complaints or concerns
• any internal audits and information
• total annual cost for each type of military equipment
• military equipment stock
APD’s military equipment stock includes an armored emergency response vehicle, a Robotex Avatar Robot, 62 rifles (including seven non-AR-15 rifles), and more. The total cost of the equipment and training in 2022 was approximately $193,663.36.