President Brian Marvel enthusiastically opened the 70th Annual Conference of Members by welcoming everyone to his hometown of San Diego. A total of 556 delegates representing 136 associations gathered at the Sheraton San Diego Hotel and Marina from November 17–19 to elect a treasurer; vote on bylaws; receive organizational, trust and benefit updates; network with fellow law enforcement professionals from across the state; attend educational trainings; meet with vendors and sponsors; and get together with friends, old and new. Notably, the Conference featured a new schedule that had the general session span two days, rather than two and a half days as in previous years, giving members more time to enjoy food, fun and recreation in Old Town San Diego, Little Italy, Seaport Village and the Gaslamp District before traveling back home.
This year’s Conference was dedicated to the memories of Don Mattison, treasurer of the Bay Area Chapter/Alameda County Management Employees Association, PORAC’s court security liaison and longtime Credentials Committee member, who passed away on October 26, 2022; and Larry Malmberg, former president of both PORAC (1986–1990) and the Sheriff’s Employees’ Benefit Association (1984–1986), who passed away on June 4, 2022.
Friday, November 18, General Session
The session began with the presentation of colors by the San Diego Police Department Honor Guard and the Pledge of Allegiance led by Vice President Damon Kurtz. Director-at-Large Brian Avera presented a solemn tribute to California’s fallen heroes from 2022, followed by a moment of silence and invocation by San Diego Police Chaplain Chuck Price. Additionally, President Marvel thanked PORAC’s corporate and Conference sponsors and acknowledged the recipients of the Small Association Awards.
Keynote Speaker: San Diego Police Chief David Nisleit thanked members for their resilience in overcoming the challenges they have faced in the past three years, including police reform laws and the “villainization” of the profession. “Proactive policing is what’s keeping our communities safe,” he said while discussing legislation that prevents officers from doing their jobs, such as proposed limits on low-level traffic stops. He encouraged members to support and fight for cops on the job and in the political arena.
Election of the Treasurer: After the roll call by Secretary Randy Beintema and vote to approve the minutes from the 2021 Conference of Members, Nick Odenath was elected by acclamation as secretary. (In remarks the following day, Odenath said that his goal for the position is to ensure transparency. He also shared that his articles in PORAC LE News will focus on helping local associations understand their fiduciary responsibilities.)
President’s Report: President Marvel began by discussing how PORAC “stepped up” its communications game this year by reaching members more effectively online through social media, emails and newsletters; in person at chapter meetings; and in print via PORAC LE News. He added that Fiona Hutton & Associates has been brought on full-time as PORAC’s communications team.
Marvel reported that this past year PORAC has received an influx of calls from state and federal legislators asking for input on law enforcement legislation and policy — including President Biden’s executive order on policing. He added that he recognizes PORAC’s influence on the profession nationwide, as what happens in California typically affects how laws take shape across the country. With that in mind, PORAC has developed a new policy platform that will benefit peace officers on a national level, which will be introduced in 2023. To increase its advocacy efforts, PORAC rolled out a digital activation portal, a free resource that associations can use to contact lawmakers regarding legislation and issues that affect them. Further, Marvel said that PORAC’s Force Option Simulator is fully operational and 18 elected officials have used the program thus far to gain insight into the profession.
Regarding endorsements, PORAC recently launched its digital voter guide, a database that allows members to view endorsed candidates in their area. The vetting process for endorsements has become more stringent, including an intensive questionnaire, and had almost 100% compliance from elected officials this year. Marvel urged members to foster relationships with candidates at the local level and said that PORAC is taking more input at the chapter level for statewide endorsements. He remarked that more cops are getting elected to office, such as Peter Durfee (Butte County supervisor), Juan Alanis (AD 22), Jordan Wamhoff (Madera County supervisor) and Tom Lackey (AD 34), and encouraged members to run for office because they have the experience and knowledge needed to stand up for the profession.
Vice President’s Report: Vice President Kurtz opened by describing the “PORAC life,” which constantly puts him and President Marvel on the road advocating for members in Sacramento and D.C., attending chapter meetings and trainings, teaching classes and going to conferences. “You’re either at the table or on the menu. You have to be at every table you could possibly be,” he said, emphasizing the importance of representing members and offering lawmakers an expert perspective on the profession whenever and wherever possible. That perspective, he added, has been and will continue to be key in effecting law enforcement legislation. Kurtz reported that PORAC currently has 760,347 members in 952 associations. He finished by stating that PORAC’s goal is to provide a unified voice in advocacy, and that no matter if one’s association is large or small, “we’re all in this together.”
Bylaws Presentation: Secretary Beintema provided an overview of the two proposed bylaw amendments. The first, proposed by the Budget Committee, changes the dues structure, reallocating funds so that PORAC can continue its efforts to curtail detrimental public safety legislation. The second, proposed by the Executive Committee, memorializes PORAC’s trusts and standing committees.
LDF Report: Chairman Fred Rowbotham reported that SB 2 (peace officer licensing and decertification) was one of the biggest issues that the Fund faced this year. The trustees worked with President Marvel to get ahead of the legislation and devised the new Plan VI coverage. Rowbotham said that POST is expecting 1,000 SB 2 cases in 2023; however, he noted that POST has been unable to build out its infrastructure for handling cases. He described SB 2 as “fluid” because the decertification process is not concrete and it will likely take years of litigation just on the process alone. To prepare for SB 2 cases, LDF panel attorneys attended a POST training about the legislation in November. Lastly, Rowbotham described LDF’s efforts in two cases: an officer-involved shooting in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and an incident involving three deputies who were convicted for the death of an inmate in Santa Clara County.
IBT Report: Chairman Richard Buss shared that IBT recently began processing Anthem Blue Cross claims in-house, under a JAA agreement, which has brought down costs and fees. As a result, IBT doubled its staff and has its own building adjacent to PORAC Headquarters. Buss says the Trust will continue to expand. He reported that the Trust’s handling of disability has changed in recent years. Short-term disability (fewer than 12 months) is handled by IBT, which pays all fees through its reserve and accounts, and once it transitions to a long-term disability, the IBT is backed by an insurance company (MetLife). Buss also reported that the Trust has about $125–$127 million in reserves and that the account is stable and strong; the disability side has about $15 million in reserves. The health insurance plan has about 25,000 enrollees. The Trust was very competitive setting rates this year, he said, which helped increase enrollees during CalPERS open enrollment.
RMT Report: Chairman Terry Moore reported that the Trust has grown exponentially each year and currently has 5,567 members in 55 associations. He said that the biggest “bump in the road” that the Trust experienced this year was with its auditor, who had to change employment from a small firm to a nationwide one that “didn’t respect RMT’s account.” In early 2022, the RMT learned that its audit and subsequent tax filings were going to be late, so the trustees decided to find and work with a new auditor, Baldwin Moffitt Behm, LLP. Another change the Trust experienced was a reorganization. Tim Davis is now a consultant and field representative. President Marvel will be nominating Director Grant Ward (SEBA) as the PORAC-appointed trustee to replace Davis. Moore said that the Trust’s portfolio balance is currently $87.54 million. He then provided an overview of how the Trust operates, encouraged participating members to register on PORACRMT.org and urged everyone to have a plan for their retirement.
RAM Report: Chairman Bob Valladon reported that RAM currently has 9,500 members. Of those, just over 5,400 are covered by LDF, which he says is “the main reason why you should join RAM.” He urged members who are retiring to fill out a RAM application during their checkout process so that they can still be covered by LDF (CCW coverage). Valladon said that the RMT hotline — (877) 726-7565 — is handled by one of the four trustees each month and is available for members 24/7.
Specialized Police Associations Coalition (SPAC) Report: Chairman Jim Bock started by thanking PORAC and Aaron Read & Associates for their advocacy efforts in helping to stop SB 1273, which would have terminated state provisions that require school employees to notify police of students who are disobedient/commit a crime on a campus, and AB 2632, which would have placed limits on how long inmates could be kept in segregated confinement in jails and prisons. He also spoke about the California Community College Board of Governors’ proposed revisions earlier this year to the Title 5 regulations related to campus climate and public safety, which would have significantly changed how campus police do their jobs. The proposal, he said, was formulated with no input from state campus law enforcement. With support from PORAC, SPAC was able to get substantive wording changes made to the regulations. Bock also touched on the ongoing work of the 830 Committee, which endeavors to revise Penal Code section 830.
Training Report: Training Coordinator Cathy Knape provided updates on the current lineup of training courses, noting that PAC Management will only be taught during election years and Association Leadership is being updated with interactive elements. New classes offered next year include a Public Records Act course and “The ABC’s of POWER” (an update to the POWER Project), as well as partnership courses with Peace Awareness Response Community, Calibre Press and Force Science Institute. Knape reported that due to the number of cancellations this past year, the training department has implemented a new policy where members need to pay a $50 materials fee if they cancel between one and three weeks before a class. She said that PORAC is working to certify courses with POST, and that most courses are STC certified, with some now also offering MCLE credit. Knape concluded with a preview of Symposium, which will include keynote speaker Will Jimeno, a retired PAPD officer and 9/11 survivor, and sessions on active shooter training and close-quarter defense. Next year’s Conference in Anaheim will feature speaker, author and leadership consultant Michael Timms.
Scholarship Report/POREF Report: Secretary Beintema reported that the Scholarship Committee received only 86 applications this year, which was far below the historical average of 225 to 250. To help streamline the application process, he announced that next year the committee will shift to an electronic system. He closed by encouraging members to utilize AmazonSmile to contribute to POREF, which since 2009 has provided $603,500 in scholarships to 334 students.
Vice President Kurtz shared that PORAC’s corporate sponsorship program has brought $153,750 to the Foundation’s many programs. He also provided an update on Fund a Hero, sharing that an option has been added that allows members to cover transaction fees so that the full amount of their donation goes to the affected member. So far, the program has raised more than $3.6 million for members and their families. He advised associations to market their campaigns directly to the media to maximize donations. Lastly, Kurtz invited all to attend the Symposium on May 31–June 1, 2023, in Monterey, followed by the second annual POREF Open Golf Tournament on June 2.
Saturday, November 19, General Session
Treasurer’s Report/Budget Report: Treasurer Shawn Welch spoke on the state of the market, assuring members that although the nation is seeing an economic downturn, the market will eventually go up again based on historic trends. He said that the 2021 audit showed that PORAC’s finances were in good shape, and that the budget is changing as the organization is spending more on its political advocacy. He finished by thanking members and reflecting on his work over the past two years, notably his efforts to try to “better members’ quality of life.”
UBS Senior Vice President–Wealth Management Mark Sikorski reported that PORAC’s accounts currently have more than $17 million. The pension fund, the organization’s largest account, has more than $9 million invested in a UBS institutional money market fund, where PORAC is making a yield of 3.42%. PORAC’s other accounts were up 51.14% in 2019–2021, with 25% in bonds. But this year, the accounts are down 15.91%, which is “not thrilling for me to stand up here and say,” Sikorski said, but that PORAC was doing well compared to some market indexes. He also reported on PORAC’s loan account, a credit-line account with UBS that PORAC used to purchase and finish construction on its new headquarters. The line of credit was for $7 million and has a variable interest rate. As of November 19, PORAC is paying 4.90% on $3.428 million. He said the interest rate on the loan would eventually decrease.
Bylaws: The bylaw amendments presented the previous day were each approved by a voice vote.
Committee on Peace Officer Relations (COPOR) Report: Co-chairs Marshall McClain and Rich Randolph, who will be sworn in as chief for Cuesta College P.D. in December, provided an update on the United for Positive Reform (UPR) coalition. Randolph said that UPR started in 2020 with a mission to promote constructive law enforcement reform and to rebuild relationships between the police and the public. But that mission has shifted recently, he said. Now, UPR is focused on building up its resources and alliances in order to have support should the anti-police rhetoric ramp up again. In 2023, McClain and Randolph plan to meet with organizations and corporations like the XFL, Teamsters and AT&T. UPR is also developing a partnership with TV producer Peter Berg, who is looking to partner with Cops N Jocks, a program that allows officers to “adopt” their local high school football teams by developing partnerships and mentoring students.
Federal Legislative Report: Darryl Nirenberg and Rowan Bost of Steptoe & Johnson LLP discussed PORAC’s expanded presence in D.C., activities, achievements and goals for the future. Nirenberg remarked on how PORAC has increased its engagement with Congress this year and is now viewed by policymakers as a “leading, thoughtful and independent voice” on law-enforcement-related issues. Bost outlined PORAC’s policy initiatives, which include advocating for federal funding for local agencies, repealing the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP)/Government Pension Offset (GPO), addressing the Medicare gap for law enforcement, creating a pilot grant program for childcare programs and implementing federal standards for use of force, training and recruitment. Nirenberg discussed the PORAC-supported bills that became law this year — the PACT Act, TBI and PTSD Law Enforcement Training Act, and Public Safety Officer Support Act — and Bost provided an update on other priority bills, such as the Invest to Protect Act. Nirenberg concluded that, with crime being a big issue in the midterms, the new Congress will be focusing on law enforcement issues next year, and Steptoe will continue working alongside PORAC to push its initiatives forward.
State Legislative Report: Randy Perry of Aaron Read & Associates reported that this year’s legislative session was unique in that PORAC was able to kill about a half-dozen “bad” bills early on in the session, so there were very few bills they were trying to kill at the end of the year. “But this didn’t make the year any lighter,” he said. PORAC tracked 317 bills this session, taking a position on 141 (supporting 99, opposing 35 and taking a neutral position on seven). Perry said that PORAC focused on advancing bills that protect peace officers and their families, noting that the PORAC-backed bills that were signed into law focus on pension protections, workers’ comp, special death benefits for families of the fallen and victims’ rights. He then provided an overview of the opposed bills that were signed into law, but said that PORAC was able to provide significant and favorable amendments for some, such as AB 2761 and AB 2773. He discussed at length the important bills killed by PORAC, many of which keep getting introduced and lack perspective from law enforcement, pointing to bills by Senator Steven Bradford, such as the “egregious” SB 1088, which would have “basically eliminated POBR.” Perry said PORAC did very well election-wise, as most endorsed candidates won their races. He said that ARA is actively recruiting law enforcement members and supporters who want to run for office who may eventually want to become lawmakers in Sacramento.
Communications Report: Kendall Klingler of Fiona Hutton & Associates opened by saying she and her team work every day to help support PORAC in protecting the rights and benefits of its members by optimizing the organization’s communications so that it’s better positioned to advocate for law enforcement at the state and federal levels. The objectives that FHA works toward are policy advocacy, brand visibility, recruitment and member education. FHA meets weekly with President Marvel and Vice President Kurtz, as well as PORAC’s state and federal advocates, to discuss the policy landscape to craft external messages regarding legislation. Klingler explained that FHA uses three methods to spread PORAC’s messaging: earned media (press releases/news coverage), owned media (brochures) and paid media (advertisements). She reported that PORAC reached 1.6 billion people through earned media coverage this year — a $14.6 million publicity value.
Concerns of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S.) Report: National C.O.P.S. Executive Director Dianne Bernhard stated that the mission of C.O.P.S. is all about supporting the survivors of the fallen — of which there are about 65,000 across the country. The organization helps families rebuild their lives through programs such as the Kids Camp, scholarships for spouses and children, counseling, benefits assistance, law enforcement wellness and trauma trainings, and National Police Week events for survivors. Bernhard was proud to report that the organization is a top-rated four-star charity, and thanked PORAC for contributing more than $136,000 to C.O.P.S. to date. She presented a plaque to President Marvel in appreciation of PORAC’s support.
California Peace Officers’ Memorial Foundation (CPOMF) Report: Executive Director Mark Nichols spoke about CPOMF’s mission to honor the state’s fallen peace officers and support the families left behind. He outlined the invaluable resources the Foundation provides, which include immediate financial assistance for the family, survivor support groups and scholarships for children and spouses. He also emphasized that the Foundation, not the state, is responsible for organizing the annual Memorial Ceremony and maintaining the memorial monument. In 2023, CPOMF will be enrolling six officers and one from the distant past at the 45th annual Memorial Ceremony on May 7–8. He encouraged members to attend and support the survivors, and to help “take care of their own” by donating to the Foundation.
Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Report: Executive Director Manny Alvarez provided a detailed explainer on SB 2, which allows POST to suspend or revoke a peace officer’s license. He explained that the law’s misconduct/certification components will be implemented on January 1, 2023. He stated that an officer’s license could be revoked for “serious misconduct,” which includes dishonesty, excessive use of force, sexual assault and more. He said that investigative responsibilities for misconduct violations lie strictly with the department, and POST has a responsibility to review those investigations. Departments are required to report to POST within 10 days of receiving a charge, complaint or allegation. He also discussed the law’s retroactivity component, which states that starting on January 1, 2023, through June 2023, departments have to report to POST any matter that falls within SB 2 in the last three years, regardless of outcome. POST is only allowed to take action on retroactive matters involving dishonesty, sexual assault and use of deadly force resulting in death or serious bodily injury. He also provided an overview of the decertification process, which involves reviews by the Commission on POST, Peace Officer Standards Accountability Advisory Board and an administrative law judge.
With no further business, President Marvel concluded the session, capping yet another successful Conference of Members and inviting everyone to attend the 2023 event at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim.
On Friday, Carlos Gonzalez delivered “Interpreting Use of Force,” which focused on the human factors and behaviors behind force use and a methodology for force analysis. He was followed by Dr. Paul Taylor, who lectured about a science-based approach for maximizing memory retrieval and communication in force investigations in his presentation “Interviews for Use of Force Investigations.” On Saturday, Lieutenant Colonel/Assistant Chief Paul L. Humphrey of the Louisville Metro P.D. presented “Response to 100+ Days of Protests and Civil Unrest,” sharing his perspectives and lessons learned from the LMPD’s handling of the protests that followed the killing of Breonna Taylor at the hands of police in 2020.