May, which included National Police Week, was a busy month on Capitol Hill, with lawmakers focused on a range of issues, including the federal budget, Iran sanctions and trade. In the wake of recent high-profile incidents in both Baltimore, Maryland, and North Charleston, South Carolina, criminal justice issues have remained at the forefront of national attention — and lawmakers are increasingly weighing in on police and community relations matters, including police militarization and the use of body-worn cameras (BWCs).
April and May are typically two of the busiest months of the year for the California Legislature. Every bill must go through a policy committee (Public Safety, Judiciary or Health Committee, for example) before being heard in Appropriations Committee (if the bill has a price tag), and is then debated on the floor of its respective house.
PORAC continues to be the voice of law enforcement in the news media. There is no other organization that reporters turn to more often than PORAC when they are in need of a public safety perspective. Our outreach has been varied throughout the state, and we tackle issues covering a broad scope. In recent months, PORAC leadership and advocates have been published in papers from Ventura to Santa Cruz to Sacramento on issues ranging from pensions to endorsements to Proposition 47.
The State Capitol was the setting for the 39th annual California Peace Officers’ Memorial Ceremony on May 3 and 4. Officers and law enforcement supporters honored the 13 officers killed in the line of duty in 2014 (and five from previous years) and paid respects to those officers’ surviving family members.
In 1986, Governor George Deukmejian called upon Senator Robert Presley to again sponsor legislation establishing a suitable memorial to peace officers who died in the line of duty. The establishment of the nine-member California Peace Officers’ Commission from this legislation developed into a new chapter in the memorial story.
The world of news media is fluid. How news is reported and shared is constantly changing, and the incidents in South Carolina and San Bernardino can be seen by millions within hours. Twitter and Facebook have created real-time news at a speed that was never thought possible. Reading the morning newspaper to rehash yesterday’s news is out, and following reporters on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Reddit is in.
In 1970, California had done little to honor the final sacrifices made each year by its fallen peace officers. The federal government had already declared May 15 as Peace Officers Memorial Day, but recognition by the state had not followed. Finally, at the urging of Abraham Sussman, who had been instrumental in campaigning for the national memorial day, the issue was brought to the attention of the state and PORAC.