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Council Approves AR-15 Rifle Purchase for APD, Accepts Annual Reports

On April 4, City Council unanimously accepted the Alameda Police Department’s Annual Military Equipment Report, including intent to purchase new AR-15 rifles. The purchase will allow APD to assign rifles to individual officers rather than vehicles.

Alameda Post - an AR-15 in a padded box

Council also accepted the 2022 Annual Reports on the General Plan, Transportation Choices Plan, Vision Zero Action Plan, and the Climate Action and Resiliency Plan, and Mayor Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft reprised her State of the City address, which she had presented to the Alameda Chamber and Economic Alliance aboard the USS Hornet last week.

APD military equipment

State law requires that Alameda Police Department (APD) obtain City Council approval to use and acquire military equipment. Types of equipment owned by APD include a remote-controlled avatar robot, an emergency response vehicle built to withstand bullet strikes, specialized firearms and ammunition, tear gas munitions, kinetic energy weapons and munitions, and noise flash diversionary devices. APD must submit an annual report to City Council accounting for the equipment’s use, cost, inventory, and audit results.



APD reports that in 2022, the only military equipment deployed was its emergency response vehicle. This armored personnel carrier was used four times, once at the request of the U.S. Marshals Service for a tactical operation in Oakland, twice to assist the Oakland Police Department, and once when it was staged for deployment at the Mayor’s Fourth of July Parade in case of a catastrophic event. In all cases, the vehicle returned without incident.

In 2023, APD intends to acquire 20 new AR-15-type rifles. Previously, rifles were assigned to vehicles, not personnel. Now rifles are assigned to each officer to improve accountability for care and storage, and because each rifle must be adjusted and sighted for its user. Currently, not all officers have an assigned rifle, so the new rifles will be for the remaining officers without an assigned rifle and for the new officers APD anticipates hiring.

Public comment

Public comment was divided, with three out of five speakers supporting APD’s request and two opposed. Todd said, “We’re an island and need to be defended.” Matt added, “With our new District Attorney, it looks like criminals will be back out on the street. There have been lots of shootings in Oakland over the last couple of days and that can spill over to Alameda.” In contrast with those commenters, Aaron argued that APD deployed an “insanely disproportionate response to a stolen vehicle” on April 4. He said, “This demonstrates APD will abuse every tool in its arsenal.”

Council vote

Council voted 4-0 to approve APD’s Annual Military Equipment Report and request to purchase new AR-15 rifles. Councilmember Malia Vella didn’t attend the vote but earlier voiced her support. Councilmembers noted the importance of the rifles needing to be customized to their user as important in their decision.

Annual reports

In other business, Council accepted the 2022 Annual Reports (Agenda Item 6A, Exhibit 1) on the General Plan, Transportation Choices Plan, Vision Zero Action Plan, and the Climate Action and Resiliency Plan. These reports document progress made toward meeting Council goals and propose priorities for the coming year, including:

  • More affordable housing. For 2015-2022 the City exceeded its obligations for total housing production but did not meet the need for lower-income housing.
  • New Planning Division ordinances such as a Short Term Rental Ordinance, an Objective Design Review Standard to ensure high-quality architectural design and an Inclusionary Housing Ordinance to focus on low-income groups needing deed-restricted housing.
  • Climate Action and Resiliency projects such as an Urban Forest Plan, continuing implementation of sea-level rise adaptation projects, expanding the publicly available electric vehicle (EV) charging network, and beginning implementation of the Equitable Building Decarbonization Plan.
  • Transportation projects such as prioritizing police traffic enforcement, starting paid parking at Seaplane and Harbor Bay ferry terminals, beginning a Rapid Response after Fatal Crashes program, and implementing a trails inventory and maintenance plan.

Your voice matters

Alameda Post - Alameda City Hall

If you live in Alameda, City Council wants to hear your opinions. Sign up on the Meeting Agendas, Minutes, and Videos page of the City of Alameda website to receive Council agendas by email. The City allows members of the public to participate in person or remotely via Zoom. Councilmember contact information is available on the Elected Officials page of the City’s website.

Contributing writer Karin K. Jensen covers boards and commissions for the Alameda Post. Contact her via [email protected]. Her writing is collected at https://linktr.ee/karinkjensen and https://alamedapost.com/Karin-K-Jensen.

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