This year, California's state legislature is considering a measure, AB 481, to control the militarized equipment that police and sheriff departments across the state use against protests, in SWAT raids, and other operations - disproportionately against Black people and other people of color. AFSC supports this legislation for transparency and civilian control over the equipment that police obtain and use. (Similar legislation was approved last month by Berkeley and is advancing in Oakland.)
Consuelo Martinez is a member of the executive committee of AFSC's West Region, and a member of the Escondido, CA City Council. She testified for AB 481 when it was consideredon April 27 by the Assembly Public Safety Committee, which passed the bill by a 7-2 vote. The bill is currently in "suspense" by the Assembly Appropriations Committee. We urge AFSC supporters to communicate your support of AB 481 to Appropriations Committee Chair Lorena Gonzalez (email) and her staff, Kimberly Horiuchi (email).
Here is Consuelo's testimony:
"Good afternoon, my name is Consuelo Martinez I am a councilmember for the City of Escondido. Today, I write to express my strong support for AB 481. As a local policy maker, I am often surprised at the grant applications buried in my council consent agendas that provide little details about grants related to our police department. I am the councilmember that regularly pulls these items off of the consent agenda to ask for more information. Usually, other grant items on our agenda include a thorough staff report with details about what the funds will be used for. That is not the case with many of our public safety grants.
Last month, the Voice of San Diego published an article, “Secretive Law Enforcement Group Admits Its Dealings Should Be Public.” When I read this article, it validated much of my concerns. It mentioned the Urban Area Working Group, and how the group of various law enforcements stakeholders have been holding meetings that were not public. In fact, these meetings should be adhering to the Brown Act. These meetings have taken place in this manner for years. Although grant applications must be approved by city council, little details are given. And this process seems to have been the norm and it is rarely questioned.
That is why I am here to express my support for AB481. Many smaller cities don’t have staff for policy makers. We have limited support and capacity to do deep dives on policy. We rely heavily on city staff of other departments to provide us information and thorough reports. AB481 is about transparency and treating all departments equal. When our city purchases fleet, we know the price, life span, and what it costs to maintain. That is not currently the situation with military equipped acquired by police department. This bill would address those gaps. Please vote YES on AB481."