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AB481 Advocacy Toolkit

Deconstruct Militarized Police Narratives with the AB 481 Advocacy Toolkit

Take action today to decrease police militarization in your California city. We hope you use our toolkit to


AB 481 is a new law that requires California law enforcement agencies to publish information by May 1st, 2022 about a range of militarized gear used in policing and carceral facilities, and to obtain approval of policies regulating the use of this military equipment. 

In 2022, city councils and county supervisors will decide in public meetings, open to community comment, whether to adopt police and sheriff proposed policies for the use of tank-like armored vehicles, assault rifles, teargas, ‘less lethal’ launchers and munitions, drones, sound cannons and other gear often used in SWAT operations and crowd control. 

AB 481 requires approval by city councils or county supervisors. If proposed use policies, by equipment type, are not adopted within 180 days of publication, use and purchase of military equipment is prohibited until a policy is adopted. For  military equipment with an approved use policy, beginning in 2023, agencies must publish annual public reports on uses and acquisitions of militarized equipment.

Communities have an opportunity to bring transparency to militarized law enforcement gear and to push back on the widespread use of this weaponry, which has been disproportionately deployed against Black and Brown people, neighborhoods, and households. 

Law enforcement agencies will present their reasons for acquiring and using military equipment. In many cases, this will discuss only fear-based, worst-case scenarios, such as active shooter events. Law enforcement is unlikely to discuss the most common uses of military gear, or deployments at peaceful protests, or disparate uses and impacts on people of color. The presentations may be technical, buried in long agendas, and  be clothed in language about lethal weaponry as “tools” for “de-escalation.”

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