Davis City Council Votes Unanimously to Adopt Military Equipment Ordinance

Photo of the Davis police department at sunrise
Photo of the Davis police department at sunrise
Photo Courtesy Don Sherman

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. 

About The Author

Jordan Varney received a masters from UC Davis in Psychology and a B.S. in Computer Science from Harvey Mudd. Varney is editor in chief of the Vanguard at UC Davis.

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  1. Alan Pryor

    I do not think there could be a more backasswards approach to deciding to purchase military-assault vehicle equipment.

    1. Buy the equipment

    2. Decide if you need it.

    This sounds kind of like the approach we took for the ladder truck puchase.

    1. Ignore the fact that UCD has a ladder truck 1.5 miles away

    2. Don’t investigate how often the ladder was even raised on their ladder truck when they did respond.

    3. Ignore the million dollar a year price tag for extra fire dept personnel to operate the truck after federal money runs out in 3 years.

    4. Buy  the ladder truck.

    And this was the Council that was suppossed to be laser-focused on cost-containment. They should get a better scope on their laser.

    1. Bill Marshall

      Alan P… you assert “fire, aim, ready”… actually, former CM, Pinkerton, seemed to espouse that… were you a fan?

      I assert “prepare for the worst, expect the best”…

      I’ve visited the ‘armory’ @ Davis PD… no clue whether you have…

      As long as PD doesn’t use a hammer to drive a screw, or a screwdriver to drive a nail, I have no problem with the CC decision…

      As pointed out in the article, paraphrasing, “past performance is no assurance of future results”… who would have thought that the US Capitol would be attacked, with the British not involved?  50 years ago, who would have thought that ‘ordinary citizens’ would have “military grade weapons” [Sandy Hook, Pittsburgh, Aurora, Buffalo, Las Vegas, etc., etc.]  What ‘tools’ should law enforcement have to deal with private citizens having ‘military arms’ when they are proscribed from having equal ‘means’?  Batons, and a badge?  No, batons are a weapon, so they shouldn’t have that, either… right?

      Your ‘analogy’ as to “ladder trucks” is specious… one ladder truck?  I was taught “belt and suspenders”… having options… we certainly don’t need 3… but having 2 available, instead of one?  Really?  What if there are two emergencies at the same time? What if the current one is out of service for maintenance…

      And this was the Council that was suppossed to be laser-focused on cost-containment.

      OK… “speling” (intended) might be an issue, but goes to ‘redundancy’… a little redundancy good… too much redundancy could be ‘not so much’… depending on context…

      Alan P, I suggest you examine the ‘scope’ of your ‘gun’… meant as a friendly suggestion…



      1. Aaron Stacy

        Your comment is highly misleading.  Police nationwide already have equipment that surpasses what the average citizen can afford and firearms that are on par with the most constitutional of states.  Pretty sure an AR15 or an M4 carbine with 30-round magazines is more rare in California (legal or not) than you think.  Same goes for the military vehicles, body armor, and training police units receive in the usage of said equipment and weapons.


        I think you are also highly misinformed on the nature and history of the 2nd amendment.  At the time of its ratification, private citizens owned hardware that met- and exceeded the existing capacity of the army.  This included not only rifles, but cannons, howitzers, and warships.  If personal destructive devices and firearms were a point of concern, it would have been addressed some 250 years ago- or anytime before the National Firearms Act in the 1930s.  All weapons are military grade, even your grandfather’s bolt action rifle is military grade.  Military grade, if you think about it, is more of a pejorative than a positive adjective to describe something- just ask anyone who has ever had to operate or service a humvee. Let’s also not forget that even the spades they were forced to use in World War 1 were “military grade”.

        While I tend to agree with you on prepare for the worst, I am also hesitant to arm a quasi-military force that acts largely without repercussions to those they serve and protect.  How many times have we seen police abuse power and cover up the evidence or bury the investigation?  I would be far more inclined to trust such duty to Sheriffs rather than police as they at least swear an oath to perform their duties constitutionally.

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