PORAC and its partner organizations were busy “trying to fit two years into one Conference,” as President Brian Marvel put it, when they gathered for the 69th Annual Conference of Members at the Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel and Spa November 19–21. Following the cancellation of the 2020 Conference due to the pandemic, this year marked a welcome return to form as 704 delegates representing 116 associations met to vote on bylaw amendments, elect executive officers, receive updates on PORAC’s recent accomplishments and activities, learn the latest on member benefits, meet with vendors, network with their fellow law enforcement officers from around the state, and simply celebrate being together in person after
the long hiatus.
This year’s Conference was dedicated to the memory of Mike Cavallero, who passed away on November 2. His decades-long legacy of service to Fresno POA and PORAC (including as PORAC vice president, treasurer, director, Insurance & Benefits trustee and Retired Associate Member chairman) is deeply appreciated and will not be forgotten.
Friday, November 19, General Session
The session began with the presentation of colors by the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office Honor Guard and the Pledge of Allegiance led by Vice President Damon Kurtz. Executive Committee Director-at-Large Grant Ward of SEBA presented a moving tribute to California’s fallen heroes from the past two years, followed by a moment of silence and an invocation by Chaplain Rodney Lowery.
Election of President and Vice President: After the roll call by Secretary Randy Beintema and a vote to approve the minutes from the 2019 Conference of Members, Brian Marvel and Damon Kurtz were re-elected by acclamation as president and vice president, respectively.
California Peace Officers’ Memorial Foundation (CPOMF) Report: Executive Director Wayne Quint spoke about CPOMF’s mission to honor fallen officers and remember the families they left behind. Explaining that dealing with a line-of-duty death is one of the biggest challenges association leaders can face, he outlined the helpful resources CPOMF provides, including immediate financial assistance for the family, a scholarship program for children and spouses, survivor support groups and the annual Memorial Ceremony. After the 2020 and 2021 events were canceled due to the pandemic, the 2022 ceremony will honor 26 officers from the past several years, as well as featuring the unveiling of a long-overdue new statue honoring women peace officers. Quint encouraged listeners to place attending the ceremony on their bucket lists, and asked associations to budget $1 per member per year for donations to CPOMF.
Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Report: Executive Director Manny Alvarez focused his presentation on things members might not know about that they should take advantage of. Most notably — thanks in part to PORAC’s advocacy — POST is now generously funded and has $34 million per year available for local training. Other opportunities include the Sherman Block Supervisory Leadership Institute (SBSLI), online “micro” courses less than an hour long that cover important topics like the recent AB 490 law regarding positional asphyxia, and a course currently being created on interview and interrogation techniques for detectives. POST is beginning to develop the implementation process for SB 2, the new peace officer licensing law that will take effect on January 1, 2023. POST has been tasked with creating a definition of “serious misconduct” under the new law, and several PORAC members will participate in a workshop in January 2022 to formulate recommendations.
President’s Report: President Marvel began by introducing the participants in PORAC’s new corporate sponsorship program: National University, 911MEDIA/American Police Beat, CAHP Credit Union and CrossCountry Mortgage, all of whom spoke about their longtime support of PORAC and the services they offer to members.
Marvel focused his report on the ways he has worked to expand and improve PORAC’s performance. In addition to the tremendous
achievements in communications, political advocacy and training covered in more detail later in the sessions, notable accomplishments included getting POREF accredited through GuideStar and the Better Business Bureau to promote trustworthiness and transparency, revamping PORAC’s political candidate endorsement process, and creating PORAC’s first super PAC (America’s Partnership for Public Safety) to contribute to federal elections. Going forward, the new, larger headquarters building will offer more opportunities for PORAC to host fundraisers and training classes, as well as creating radio and television spots in its media studio. PORAC is in the process of trademarking its logos and refining its branding to ensure that it is recognized as a respected, trusted organization. Marvel concluded by saying he anticipates continued growth statewide and nationally for PORAC and its trusts, and thanking the Board, Executive Committee, chapter presidents, PORAC staff and members for their support.
Vice President’s Report: Vice President Kurtz reported that PORAC continues to welcome new additions and currently has 76,786 members in 946 associations. He emphasized the importance of marketing, explaining that expanding the organization’s brand through strategies such as sponsoring a NASCAR driver helps with recruiting as well as building political support and public trust. “We want your neighbors, your friends and people you don’t know to know who PORAC is,” he said. In addition, he highlighted the success of the Fund a Hero program, which has raised a total of nearly $2.4 million during its first two years in existence. Kurtz finished by encouraging members to attend the Symposium in Dana Point March 30–31, 2022, followed on April 1 by PORAC’s “third attempt at a first annual golf tournament” after two years of pandemic-related cancellations.
Treasurer’s Report/Budget Report: Noting that this is his first year as treasurer, Shawn Welch introduced himself by outlining his path to PORAC leadership and spoke movingly of the importance of every association having a PAC to help fight against legislation that could harm their members. He also recognized Chief Operating Officer Kim Busman’s invaluable work managing PORAC’s financial affairs and running the office.
UBS Senior Vice President–Wealth Management Mark Sikorski reported that PORAC’s investment accounts are up 14.85% year to date and a total of 51.09% over the last two years and 10 months. PORAC is “doing fantastic” with just under $18 million in investments, and UBS is predicting the market will continue to do well with no correction in sight.
Welch reported that he and the Budget Committee will be going through the proposed budget to make sure members’ money is being spent wisely and see whether any cuts can be made. However, he cautioned that PORAC is doing a lot right now and needs funding to support its members in the best manner possible. “It’s important to fight for you, and that costs money,” he concluded.
Training Report: Training Coordinator Cathy Knape gave an overview of recent additions to the training program, including the new Peer Support course, and her efforts to make sure all classes are STC- and/or POST-certified. PORAC will be implementing “Lunch ‘n’ Learns,” 15-minute online presentations on various subjects followed by 15-minute Q&A’s, as well as holding panel discussions for chapters or regions based on local topics of interest. PORAC has also partnered with outside companies to bring members more educational opportunities, including Calibre Press, Force Science Institute, the Resiliency Project and Law Enforcement Social.
Concerns of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S.) Report: National C.O.P.S. Executive Director Dianne Bernhard spoke about how line-of-duty deaths affect families and law enforcement, and the many services C.O.P.S. provides (both nationally and through its three local chapters in California) to help, including hosting survivors at National Police Week in Washington, D.C.; organizing camps for kids and young adults; offering retreats for spouses, parents and co-workers; and providing scholarships for survivors. She invited PORAC members to attend free training entitled “The Traumas of Law Enforcement,” April 4–6 in Sacramento.
Bylaws Presentation: Secretary Beintema went over the proposed bylaw amendments, which were recommended by Board of Directors for adoption by the membership. Largely “cleanup” changes for clarity and consistency, they included establishing a retired limited membership category for non-sworn personnel and adding the ability for members to vote in PORAC elections by mail or electronically.
CalPERS Report: Chief Financial Officer Michael Cohen reported that CalPERS is now 82% funded, up from 71% last year, thanks to a 21.3% return on its investments. Of every dollar paid out, 60 cents is from investment returns, 29 from employers and 11 from members. Emphasizing the importance of balancing risk and reward, Cohen explained the Risk Mitigation Policy, which reduces employer rates and long-term risk by lowering the annual investment rate return target from 7% to 6.8% for the next four years. This strategy of being cautious in good years to avoid the worst-case scenario in bad years unfortunately means rate increases on the horizon for participants. Most PEPRA members will see some increase in their contribution, averaging about 0.8%, beginning in 2022.
Saturday, November 20, General Session
Keynote Speaker: Assemblymember Jim Cooper (D-Elk Grove), a staunch supporter of public safety and a 30-year veteran of the Sacramento Sheriff’s Office, spoke about the legislative process and the issues he has been working on. Above all, he urged PORAC members to stay engaged and involved in politics and encouraged them to follow his example by running for office. Describing the importance of having people with law enforcement experience and expertise to educate lawmakers about the reality of the issues, Cooper assured the audience, “You have a story to tell.” With more than one-third of the Assembly due to term out in 2024, he said, now is the time to start planning for identifying and fielding pro-law-enforcement candidates to take their place. Expressing his ongoing commitment to supporting PORAC, he told members, “Don’t be discouraged. It’s a fight, but it’s a fight worth fighting.”
Bylaws: The bylaw amendments presented the previous day were approved as a package by voice vote.
Scholarship Committee: Noting that of the approximately 230 applications the committee receives each year, 25% are turned down for failure to follow directions, Chairman Randy Beintema urged parents to ensure their children’s materials are complete and correct, including a parental signature, transcripts, a color photo and a one-page handwritten essay. The applications for 2022 will go online in December (including a new essay question), with a due date in March. Beintema also encouraged all members to help generate more scholarship funding by using AmazonSmile to contribute to POREF.
Federal Legislative Report: Darryl Nirenberg of Steptoe & Johnson explained that PORAC’s goals in Washington, D.C., are to impact federal policy affecting law enforcement nationwide, promote policy that helps California peace officers and build productive relationships with policymakers. In addition to advocating for COVID-19 relief for first responders, PORAC has been hard at work addressing police reform by educating policymakers about the issues, sharing lessons from California, opposing changes to qualified immunity, and proposing proactive solutions such as national standards for recruitment and training. PORAC is also advocating for full funding for federal law enforcement grant programs. “PORAC is successful because policymakers know that when PORAC speaks, what they say is reliable and can be trusted,” Nirenberg noted. Looking ahead, PORAC plans to resume its fly-ins in the spring, and law enforcement is expected to continue to be a legislative focus as the 2022 elections approach.
State Legislative Report: Randy Perry of Aaron Read & Associates credited teamwork as the key to PORAC’s success this year, with ARA, Fiona Hutton & Associates, panel attorneys and member associations working together to take on a high volume of anti-law-enforcement legislation. PORAC dealt with more than 200 bills, including more than 45 law enforcement reform bills. The biggest issue was SB 2, which created a statewide peace officer decertification process and was signed into law by Governor Newsom. PORAC opposed the bill, but knowing that it was going to happen in some form, fought hard to make it more fair to law enforcement and will continue to advocate for cleanup measures next year. Perry outlined a number of other measures PORAC supported and opposed, highlighting that PORAC has not only killed a number of bad bills but also taken the lead on increasing peace officer education and training requirements. He warned that in 2022, the second half of the two-year legislative session, issues PORAC may have to fight against include the expansion of the Bane Act, attempts to revoke pension for decertified officers, limitations on traffic stops and attacks on POBOR. In addition, redistricting adds an element of uncertainty to the coming election year.
Fiona Hutton & Associates Report: Kendall Klingler and Ian Anderson reported on FHA’s public relations work to support PORAC’s policy advocacy, increase brand visibility, promote recruitment and educate members on the legislative process and their rights and benefits. In addition to the legislative accomplishments covered by Randy Perry, highlights of the year included building PORAC’s brand with a unified look and feel, creating a member benefits brochure, publishing a policy platform, producing advocacy resources, conducting media relations and digital advocacy — including the Digital Activation Portal, which is free for member associations to use to help engage supporters in sending messages to elected officials on specific topics — and winning two awards for PORAC’s campaigns.
PORAC Communications Report: Public Relations and Communications Manager Chris Steele reported that PORAC continues to expand its in-house team and branding. The team’s content creation and digital media projects include graphic design, video production and animation, photography, social media, new pro-law-enforcement digital stickers and GIFs that have proven very popular, the On the Job With PORAC podcast and the new PORAC Event App that debuted at Conference and will continue to be used at future events. Steele also noted that the Conference vendor exhibit sold out once again, and $67,000 in revenue was generated from Conference sponsorships alone. PORAC’s new corporate sponsorship program is working well and PORAC will look to expand it in 2022, with 75% of the revenue benefiting POREF.
911MEDIA Report: President Mark Deitch described 911MEDIA’s long history of partnering with PORAC on an integrated communications strategy, including publishing the PORAC Law Enforcement News magazine since 2010, hosting the PORAC website since 2011 and creating the PORAC app in 2017. Client Services Director Natalie Tolila walked members through the features of the new website redesign that launched the week of Conference, with a clean and modern mobile-friendly design and a wealth of information for PORAC members. She also highlighted the features of the magazine and the numerous awards 911MEDIA has garnered for both the publication and the website on PORAC’s behalf. Deitch concluded by introducing ExPress Websites, affordable website packages available to PORAC member associations.
LDF Report: Retiring Vice Chairman Chris Coulter reported that PORAC LDF is the oldest, largest and most respected legal defense plan in the U.S., with 142,968 members in 1,458 associations encompassing all 50 states and four territories. He announced the introduction of a new Plan VI to help officers during the decertification process under the newly passed SB 2, which will be available to all member associations regardless of their current benefit plan for a fixed cost of $5 per member per month. Introductory open enrollment runs through March 31, 2022, offering full retroactive coverage from the initial date of LDF membership. (Associations that enroll after March 31 will not receive retroactive coverage.) Coulter also reminded members that they have the right to appeal the Legal Administrator’s decisions to the LDF Board of Trustees. He concluded by noting that LDF has paid more than $200 million in benefits since 2007.
IBT Report: Retiring Chairman Franco Vado recapped the many benefits offered by IBT in partnership with its longtime vendors, including short- and long-term disability, dental, vison, and death and dismemberment coverage, plus medical plans designed specifically for PORAC members. IBT had a busy year, moving into a new building across from the new PORAC HQ, hiring additional staff and preparing to take over the processing of all medical claims in-house beginning in January 2022, which will save millions of dollars while offering better customer service to members. Also in January, in response to member requests, IBT will begin offering a Disability Plan Rider that shortens the waiting period from 60 days to 30.
RMT Report: Chairman Terry Moore said that it has been a year of growth for RMT, which despite the challenges of the pandemic added seven associations representing over 300 participants to its roster, for a total of 52 associations and about 5,500 members. The Trust also increased its portfolio by $20 million, for a total of $86.9 million as of early November. He reviewed the RMT’s mission of helping members pay for health insurance after retirement by allowing them to put money away while they’re working, grow it through investments and get it back tax-free. He reminded listeners that the most difficult part of the process of signing up for RMT is that associations must negotiate participation with their employer in their contract/MOU. Moore concluded by encouraging all members to make a plan for paying for their future medical expenses so they can enjoy a happy, healthy retirement.
Sunday, November 21, General Session
Memorial Foundation: President Marvel reported the National Memorial is currently facing a tough financial situation. PORAC wrote an extensive letter back in 2019 to the memorial director and never received a response. President Marvel followed up and stated PORAC’s continuing concerns. The National Memorial took out bonds and unfortunately, defaulted on almost all of them. PORAC pressed for a seat on their board since PORAC is one of their major contributors. The Memorial noted they could not give PORAC a seat on their board. President Marvel stated this put PORAC in a difficult position. PORAC has contributed over $1 million to the Memorial. While PORAC still maintains an OK relationship with the National Memorial, PORAC will no longer be contributing until they address the concerns in the letter. PORAC would like to support the National Memorial as much as the California Memorial.
RAM Report: Chairman Bob Valladon introduced the other RAM Committee members, Tom Snook, Tom Simonds and Bryan Tenhet. He reported that they are taking turns fielding calls to the new RAM hotline at (877) 726-7565, which allows members to have their inquiries answered directly rather than calling LDF or the PORAC office. Valladon directed listeners to the retiree section on the PORAC website and reminded associations of the importance of keeping their members’ addresses current so they can be offered the opportunity to join RAM when they retire and get access to LDF Plan V firearms coverage. RAM has approximately 9,800 members and the goal is to reach 15,000 in 2022.
Specialized Law Enforcement Committee (SPAC) Report: Chairman Jim Bock summarized the previous day’s SPAC meeting, during which committee representatives were confirmed and legislative concerns for specialized law enforcement were discussed. “We reaffirmed our commitment to moving forward positively with purpose and well-being for our membership as a priority,” Bock said. He reiterated the importance of members becoming involved throughout the year. Being active is essential not only at the association and chapter levels, but also with local elections and officials, especially for specialized law enforcement associations, which have small districts and jurisdictions. “That’s like the farm league for our legislators,” he explained, fostering relationships early can go a long way as officials rise to the state or even national levels. He concluded by thanking PORAC for its support in ensuring that SPAC associations receive meaningful representation.
With no other business, President Marvel adjourned the session, concluding yet another eventful Conference of Members and urging everyone to attend the 2022 event in San Diego.
On Friday, Lt. Col. Dave Grossman (pictured on page 20) presented “The Bulletproof Mind for Law Enforcement,” which focuses on how to prepare for and deal with the stress of violent encounters and their aftermath, and the role that law enforcement plays in serving as the protectors to those around them. On Saturday, Sergeant Jon Davis from Calibre Press presented “Legally Justified, But Was It Avoidable?,” which analyzes dozens of recent use-of-force videos to dissect the behavior of the offender and the officers involved, including whether poor or ill-advised tactics, ineffective communication, a lack of personal control and/or a misunderstanding of acute stress led them to unintentionally escalate the event.