City Council Approves Use of Military Equipment by Burbank Police

Burbank's Bearcat (seen in recent action) was called out to help deal with a shooting suspect who was not cooperating with police commands (Photo by Ross A Benson)

Editor’s Note: The story was updated to include the second vote of the council to approve the list of equipment being used.

In a State Bill that goes into effect May 1, 2022, police departments must obtain approval from their local government leaders to obtain, fun, and use equipment obtained from the military.

At this time, Burbank is not acquiring any new items but is receiving the approval of the City Council to continue to use and maintain the equipment.

According to the Staff Report, “AB 481 was introduced to increase transparency and accountability for the funding,
acquisition, and use of military equipment by state and local law enforcement agencies. The legislation includes a broad definition of what constitutes “military equipment”, including items such as drones that are commonly used in everyday society by members of the public and have been effectively deployed for many years by law enforcement
agencies to respond to emerging threats, civil unrest, and mass casualty events.

Furthermore, several of the items the bill defines as “military equipment” are not necessarily used by the military but are less-than-lethal, standard issue equipment for peace officers. While possession of such equipment does not warrant its use in common circumstance(s), this essential equipment is deployed based on (the) situational necessity to effectively de-escalate intense situations or bring volatile conditions and critical incidents to a safe resolution.

Burbank Police Chief Mike Albanese presented a list to the Council of the items that were to be included, with many items already having been used for many years, depending on the situation.

The list of items the Council approved included:

1. SWAT Robot
2. Aerial Drone
3. Bearcat Armored Vehicle
4. Mobile Command Post
5. Breaching Shotguns
6. Patrol Rifles
7. SWAT Commando Rifles
8. Flash-Bangs
9. Various Diversionary/Chemical Agent Delivery Munitions
10. Chemical Agent Aerosol Devices
11. PepperBall Kinetic Energy Weapon
12. Sponge/Foam/Liquid Kinetic Energy Weapon

Albanese also pointed out that many of the items not only required special training to use by members of the Burbank Police’s Swat Team but there was also oversight that must be granted by command personnel before they can be used.

The only goal of this equipment is for officers and public safety according to Albanese. There is also a very stringent policy that goes along with each item and the situations they can be used in.

Each year according to the bill: “Within 30 days of submitting and publicly releasing the annual report, the Department shall hold at least one well-publicized and conveniently located community engagement meeting, at which the Department should discuss the report and respond to public questions regarding the funding, acquisition, or use of military equipment.”

Albanese knows the value of having equipment like this available in extreme circumstances. He was a member of the LAPD SWAT team that responded to the North Hollywood shoot-out about 25 years ago and officers found they were out-gunned and lacking equipment. Officers were forced to go and grab weapons from local gun stores such as B&B in North Hollywood.

While the Council voted 5-0 to approve the ordinance equipment, Vice Mayor Konstantine Anthony wanted an item-by-item breakdown of why each item and why it was needed and what it did in particular. Councilmember Bob Frutos took exception to his asking and basically said he should not question the Chief. Frutos has served as an LAPD Officer and knows the equipment well while Anthony has very little experience with the items involved and was just trying to get an understanding.

The Council voted 4 to 1 to approve the list with Anthony casting the opposition vote.

The final vote will come at an upcoming meeting and is expected to pass.

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    1. Has the Burbank Police Department considered a Drone as First Responder (DFR) program?

      It would be less expensive than our current helicopter, more nimble, and the concept has been proven with other police departments.


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