By Emilie St. John
INGLEWOOD — The City Council moved forward with implementing an ordinance that would adopt the Inglewood Police Department’s military equipment-use policy Feb. 28 with no objections from members of the City Council or 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,” Hurt said.
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 met in more than seven years.
The committee was created in response to U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters’ push for federal oversight of the department in 2010 after officers were involved in several deaths over a six-month period.
A comprehensive review by the Justice Department found Inglewood’s police policies on the use of force were poorly written and legally inadequate despite recent reform efforts. In addition, a 33-page letter to then-Mayor Roosevelt Dorn from federal officials called for numerous changes in the way the department trains and investigates its officers.
Shortly thereafter, Dorn was removed from office and residents elected Mayor James T. Butts Jr. in January 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 the city budgeting $108 million towards 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 are present.
During the public hearing only one person spoke on the military equipment policy.
“The fact that the city has and continues to acquire military-qrade weapons is very scary,” resident Marvin McCoy said. “I understand the realities of mass shootings and the police has 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,” he added. “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 to state law].”
The staff report accompanying the military weapon agenda item 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 covering the areas of Carson, Compton, Inglewood and Willowbrook. Send tips to her at email@example.com.