Steptoe & Johnson LLP
As fears over the coronavirus grew, and only hours before congressional offices largely closed their doors to outside visitors, the PORAC Executive Committee spent two days in Washington, D.C., speaking to lawmakers and policymakers about the needs of law enforcement officers across the state of California. March 11–12, PORAC Executive Committee members met with 24 offices from the California delegation to the United States House of Representatives, the offices of both California senators, three different Senate and House committees, members of the Attorney General’s Office, Assistant Attorney General Katie Sullivan, and Phil Keith, director of the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program and chair of the Presidential Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice. Throughout these meetings, PORAC relentlessly advocated for the issues and needs of the California law enforcement community.
During PORAC’s time in Washington, several issues took precedence over others. Among these were:
- Federal funding for grants to state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies, such as the COPS program, Edward Byrne Justice Assistance Grants (Byrne JAG) and High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) program
- Protecting the retirements of law enforcement officers and all public employees by reforming the Social Security Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) through support of House Ways and Means Chairman Richie Neal’s (D-MA-1) H.R. 4540, the Public Servants Protection and Fairness Act, and S. 521/H.R. 141, the Social Security Fairness Act
- Preventing violence against police officers by promoting Representative Lou Correa’s (D-CA-16) H.R. 5251, the Improving Community Safety Task Force Act, and S. 1480/H.R. 5395, the Back the Blue Act
- Improving mental health care for law enforcement officers and communities through Representative Josh Harder’s (D-CA-10) H.R. 2696, the Supporting the Health and Safety of Law Enforcement Act, and S. 2746/H.R. 3735, the Law Enforcement Suicide Data Collection Act
- Supporting the families of fallen law enforcement officers through H.R. 2697, the Corporal Ronil Singh and Fallen Heroes Scholarship Act, a bill from Representative Harder to provide Pell Grants to the spouses of fallen officers
In meetings with members of Congress, congressional staff and Trump administration officials, PORAC Executive Committee members made a compelling case for the prioritization of these issues and delivered important information on the challenges facing law enforcement officers across California. Despite the uncertainty surrounding Congress as the coronavirus situation escalates into a pandemic, PORAC will continue this advocacy in Washington until the needs of law enforcement are met.