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Assembly Bill (AB) 481 - Military Equipment Funding, Acquisition and Use Policy

Assembly Bill (AB) 481 added California Government Code sections 7070-7072 requiring law enforcement agencies to obtain approval of the applicable governing body, by adoption of a military equipment use policy prior to taking certain actions relating to the funding, acquisition, or use of military equipment, as defined.


AB 481 Definition of Military Equipment

  • The Assembly Bill has designated the following categories of items as military equipment. The Orange County Sheriff’s Department has equipment that meets the criteria for 10 of the 15 categories (categories 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12 and 14):
  • Unmanned, remotely piloted, powered aerial or ground vehicles (Equipment Category 1)
  • Mine-resistant ambush-protected (MRAP) vehicles or armored personnel carriers (Equipment Category 2)
  • High mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicles (HMMWV), two-and-one-half-ton trucks, five-ton trucks, or wheeled vehicles that have a breaching or entry apparatus attached (Equipment Category 3)
  • Tracked armored vehicles that provide ballistic protection to their occupants and utilize a tracked system instead of wheels for forward motion (Equipment Category 4)
  • Command and control vehicles that are either built or modified to facilitate the operational control and direction of public safety units (Equipment Category 5)
  • Weaponized aircraft, vessels, or vehicles of any kind (Equipment Category 6)
  • Battering rams, slugs, and breaching apparatuses that are explosive in nature (Equipment Category 7)
  • Firearms of .50 caliber or greater, excluding standard issue shotguns (Equipment Category 8)
  • Ammunition of .50 caliber or greater, excluding standard issue shotgun ammunition (Equipment Category 9)
  • Specialized firearms and ammunition of less than .50 caliber, including assault weapons as defined in Sections 30510 and 30515 of the Penal Code, with the exception of standard issue service weapons and ammunition of less than .50 caliber that are issued to officers, agents, or employees of a law enforcement agency or a state agency (Equipment Category 10)
  • Any firearm or firearm accessory that is designed to launch explosive projectiles (Equipment Category 11)
  • Flashbang devices and munitions containing tear gas or oleoresin capsicum, excluding standard, service-issued handheld pepper spray (Equipment Category 12)
  • TASER® Shockwave, microwave weapons, water cannons, and the Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD) (Equipment Category 13)
  • The following projectile launch platforms and their associated munitions: 40mm projectile launchers, “bean bag,” rubber bullet, and specialty impact munition (SIM) weapons (Equipment Category 14)
  • Any other equipment as determined by a governing body or a state agency to require additional oversight (Equipment Category 15)

The full text of AB 481 is available here


Requirements of AB 481

AB 481 requires each law enforcement agency's governing body to adopt a written military use policy by ordinance in a public forum, in order for the law enforcement agency to continue the use of this previously acquired equipment. To help guide this process, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department has provided a summary of AB 481 for our residents, as well as the following required materials:

  • Policy:  The Orange County Sheriff’s Department Policy 711 is available to view as a downloadable PDF below. The AB 481 defined list of military equipment currently in the Orange County Sheriff’s Department possession is included as an attachment to the  policy, as well as each item’s purpose, authorized use, expected lifespan and fiscal impact.
  • Establish a concern or complaint process:  For many years, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department has had a means for the public to submit commendations, questions and complaints here.
  • Prepare an Annual Report:  The Orange County Sheriff’s Department will prepare an Annual Report, as required by Government Code section 7072 to include the use of military equipment, any complaints received, any internal audits or other information about violations of Orange County Sheriff’s Department Policy 711, the cost of such use and other similar information.  This report will be publicly released on in May of 2023.