By Melanie Johnson
DAVIS, CA – On Tuesday, May 10, the Davis City Council held their second reading of a military equipment ordinance pursuant to AB 481 which was introduced on Apr. 19. They discussed recommendations provided by the Police Accountability Commission (PAC) from their May 2 commission meeting. Keeping in mind the PAC’s recommendation to obtain usage data for the city’s military equipment items as defined by the ordinance, the City Council ultimately voted to adopt the ordinance in its present state.
Assistant City Manager Kelly Stachowicz started the discussion by providing a brief overview of both the ordinance and the PAC’s May 2 meeting, and advised that the City Council proceed with their adoption of the ordinance.
She explained, “This ordinance describes the equipment the city has that AB 481 considers to be military equipment, and gives permission for the city to use it as needed and requires a public process for annual review and for any purchase of new types of equipment.”
Of the PAC meeting, Stachowicz summarized, “They were interested primarily in the past usage of the equipment and having that inform approved levels of inventory going forward. They requested that Council direct staff to collect data on past usage prior to passing the ordinance.”
In spite of the PAC’s recommendation, however, Stachowicz stated that “our staff recommendation is that Council continue on the existing path to complete the second reading of the ordinance this evening. Past usage, we feel, does not predict the need to use this type of equipment in the future, so we don’t feel that the data would change the staff recommendation or change the ordinance.”
She further emphasized that “in an ideal world we wouldn’t need to use any of this equipment, ever. But there are instances and situations where we feel it’s beneficial to have, and have put different pieces of it to use.”
Mayor Gloria Partida agreed with Stachowicz’s recommendation and reiterated her previous comment during the May 2 PAC meeting that many of these items are intended for emergency use. Because of this, Partida insisted that “it’s difficult to tie usage to whether or not we should have these items.”
Mayor Partida added that “it is a good idea to talk about usage because it gives us information, and I think that collecting that information is a good idea. But I don’t think that it would make a difference in whether or not we decide if we need these items.”
Davis Police Chief Darren Pytel also noted that the Davis Police Department is already “required to track the usage of any of these items and do the annual report, and also do a public reporting” of the types of data requested by the PAC.
Vice Mayor Lucas Frerichs stated that he “would be willing to move the adoption of the ordinance for the second reading,” but included “the additional caveat” that the City Council “still [consider] the PAC’s recommendation.”
He stated, “We can just request the usage information be brought forward during next year’s review or renewal of the ordinance as part of the information to review.”
Frerichs further detailed his rationale for moving forward with the ordinance adoption, explaining that “all police departments in the state” are required to “[adhere] to the new state law effective May 1, 2022 . . . We’re at this point 10 days beyond that already, and it’s going to take a little bit of time once the second reading is passed for it to be in effect.”
He concluded, “I still feel like we can request usage information and have it be brought forward to us, while still moving forward with the ordinance.”
In accordance with Frerichs’ comments, the City Council voted unanimously to adopt the ordinance.