State law pushes transparency on Sheriff’s military equipment

Several Tulare County Board supervisors express reservations about AB 481 on military equipment policy that insists on transparency for military level equipment

VISALIA –Due to an assembly bill passed earlier this year, local law enforcement is now required to be completely transparent with military grade equipment being used in the department. At the Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday, the sheriff’s department received approval of a policy regarding military equipment use.

On Tuesday May 16, assistant sheriff Mark Gist presented a request to the Tulare County Board of Supervisors introducing an ordinance in regards to transparency with their military equipment use. The introduction of this policy was approved by four of the five supervisors – Supervisor Larry Micari was absent – and will be adopted on June 7.

Even though the policy was approved without question, some supervisors had their reservations. Effective at the beginning of this year, Assembly Bill 481 requires all law enforcement agencies to receive approval from the board of supervisors – or another governing body – before purchasing, fundraising or receiving any military equipment. The goal of the bill is to increase transparency, accountability and oversight in receiving and using the equipment. 

Gist explained the sheriff’s department has nothing to hide. He has seen the equipment on display at public events and it is discussed with members of the community. “We have stringent audits with our equipment and high accountability with its use…we’re going to be at or above industry standards at all times with the county for the public safety.”

Supervisor Pete Vander Poel thinks this policy is creating work for no reason. “This equipment is necessary for the maintenance of public safety,” Vander Poel said. “I appreciate the transparency that this law requires, but personally, I find it unnecessary…I’m fully supportive of the sheriff’s department and Sheriff Boudreaux’s goal to be at or above industry standard, because that’s what our Tulare County public deserves.”

Supervisor Amy Shuklian has her reservations about the bill as well, saying it is a good thing law enforcement is so transparent, “but sometimes I wonder if the bad guys need to know everything that you have to combat them.”

The Tulare County Sheriff’s Office equipment list is currently online and available to the public. Some items include several different chemical agents mostly used as defense technology. There are less-lethal weapons used to minimize injuries to suspects. Also on the list is an armored rescue vehicle, select-fire, caliber and semi-automatic firearms, drones, two aircraft, a robot and a mobile command post. 

Start typing and press Enter to search