Equipment and Assembly Bill 481 – City of Palo Alto, CA


A new law, Assembly Bill (AB) 481, was one of several police reform bills Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law in September 2021. It took effect Jan. 1. 2022. AB 481 is designed to educate the community about owning a police department. and use of certain types of equipment and requires the city council to provide both authorization and oversight of its use.

The Palo Alto Police Department’s proposed policy can be viewed via the link below, and public comments on the policy can be shared via the form at the bottom of this page. City Council will consider the proposed policy no later than November 1, 2022. Police departments across the state are developing similar policies in response to this new law. It should be noted that the policy does not contemplate the addition of New equipment; it simply describes the equipment already in possession of the police department. Also, for reference, the Department does not have any “atypical” equipment for the area, and Palo Alto has fewer types of such equipment than many other Bay Area agencies.

View draft proposed policy(PDF, 199 KB)

Read this article for more information and details on our proposed policy

What qualifying equipment does the PAPD currently have?

The only eligible pieces of equipment as defined by AB 481 currently in possession of the Palo Alto Police Department are the following. It is important to note that the PAPD has had this equipment for years (in some cases, decades), and everything is designed specifically for law enforcement (not military) application. The proposed policy does not include a request for the acquisition of new equipment.

  • Command and control vehicle (the Mobile Emergency Operations Center, or MEOC, which serves as a mobile command post during critical incidents, disasters or special events, as well as a 9-1-1 emergency dispatch center in the event where the City’s main dispatch center is compromised or unavailable; the MEOC is most often operated by the City’s Office of Emergency Services).
  • Less lethal ammunition and chemical agents (available to all fully certified sworn officers to provide less lethal use of force options to safely arrest criminal suspects in limited situations).
  • Diversion devices (Used exclusively by members of the Department’s SWAT team who have received additional specialized training; the equipment creates aural and visual diversion to aid the operation of tactical teams during a critical public safety incident).
  • Long range acoustic device (used by sworn trained personnel at the property to facilitate communication with subjects from a safe distance).
  • A sniper rifle with associated ammunition (Used exclusively by members of the Department’s SWAT team who have received additional specialized training, allowing them to deal with threats with greater accuracy from a greater distance).

The Palo Alto Police Department does not possess unmanned aerial vehicles (drones), robots, armored tactical vehicles, or other types of qualifying equipment as defined in AB 481.

For more information on this equipment, please see the proposed draft policy(PDF, 199 KB).

What new equipment would the proposed policy allow PAPD to acquire?

Nothing. The proposed policy does not include a request for the acquisition of new equipment.

Click here to see the form.


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