The Inglewood City Council moved forward on implementing an ordinance that would adopt the Inglewood Police Department’s military equipment-use policy on Feb. 28 with no objections from members of the city council or the public.
Acting police Chief Cardell Hurt gave the presentation to recommend the city adopt the policy.
“I’m asking the council to adopt the ordinance amending the Inglewood Municipal Code by adding Chapter 2-168.1 to Chapter 2 approving Inglewood Police Department Policy 709,” said Hurt.
The item was pursuant to Assembly Bill 481, which was passed in 2021 in response to the murder of George Floyd in an attempt to increase the accountability and transparency of law enforcement.
AB 481 requires all law enforcement agencies in California to establish and publish policies governing the use of military equipment. The policies must be approved by the city council, and agencies must publish annual public reports on using and acquiring military equipment.
Inglewood’s policy is designed to increase community awareness and oversight over certain types of equipment in the department’s possession.
The Inglewood Police Department has a Civilian Oversight Committee that hasn’t been allowed to meet in over 7 years.
The committee was created in response to Congresswoman Maxine Waters push for federal oversight of the department in 2010 after officers in the department killed multiple people over a six-month period.
A comprehensive review by the Justice Department found Inglewood’s police policies on the use of force are poorly written and legally inadequate despite recent reform efforts. In addition, a 33-page letter to then Mayor Roosevelt Dorn from federal officials calls for numerous changes in the way the department trains and investigates its officers.
Shortly thereafter, Dorn was removed from office and residents elected James T. Butts Jr. in Jan. 2011. Shortly after Butts’ election, former Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks departed and Butts installed Mark Fronterotta as acting chief in mid-2012. Four years later, Inglewood officers killed a couple while they were asleep in their car and the oversight committee meetings ended.
Currently, Inglewood residents are discouraged from discussing crime and safety issues in the community despite budgeting $108 million for the police department this fiscal year.
The costs include close to $16 million in outside law enforcement contracts related to special events at the sports and entertainment district. Some of those costs are reimbursable but not 100%. Residents subsidize the costs of each event held where police personnel is present.
During the public hearing, only one person spoke on the military equipment policy despite the City having over 100,000 residents.
“The fact that the City has and continues to acquire military-grade weapons is very scary,” said Marvin McCoy, a resident of District 2. “I understand the realities of mass shootings and the police have to have the ability to save lives but the partnership has to go both ways.”
“This City hasn’t had a police commission meeting in years and you’re asking residents to extend trust to the department to have military-grade weapons but won’t hear our concerns,” continued McCoy. “This is the same department that murdered two people sleeping at a light and secretly settled it without telling the general public. It didn’t even come up for a vote by this council. You are also being sued by the ACLU for not turning over police records [in accordance with state law].”
The City has a documented history of not making public documents available and not providing them under state law.
The accompanying staff report provided a breakdown of all items the department has that are defined as “military equipment” which requires the rules and use of each item. The law states the records are to be made available to the public however the City hasn’t done so thus far.
The council had no comments on the policy and voted unanimously to approve it.
Emilie St. John is a freelance journalist for 2UrbanGirls.com and a contributing writer for the Los Angeles Wave newspaper.