Legislature Recesses for 2016
September marked the end of a two-year session at our State Capitol. The legislative battles reflected one of the most difficult years we’ve experienced. The challenges that began with Ferguson almost two years ago continued to echo in the Capitol. While past years were monopolized by budget battles, this year the conversations have been significantly more personal against law enforcement. Not long ago we saw Senator Mark Leno (SB 1286) take direct aim at all of us who wear a uniform. We also saw a second straight year of legislation for body cameras, along with issues of racial profiling, civilian oversight, mental health and implicit bias.
Thankfully, PORAC has Aaron Read & Associates fighting for us on the front line in Sacramento. Analyzing hundreds of bills each week, our advocates at ARA offer insight that only decades of experience under the Capitol dome can provide. PORAC is very fortunate to have the highest-caliber team of advocates in the business, led by Aaron Read and Randy Perry, as our voice in the Capitol.
Months of meetings and dozens of strategy sessions happen throughout the year, where your PORAC leadership conveys the concerns of the rank and file in priority discussions with California policymakers. Educating our elected officials starts long before they run for office, and continues through their races and after they are elected. We are proud that PORAC has remained the leading voice for law enforcement and the first organization that legislators turn to for input on public safety issues.
Over the past several years, ARA has worked in partnership with Marketplace Communications, its sister company, to help PORAC navigate these troubled times with enhanced messaging capabilities. Terry McHale and Michele Cervone are always right on point to help get our messages out to the media and our membership.
Although PORAC has taken a position on a number of the initiatives we will face in the November election, several in particular should be brought into the spotlight: No on Proposition 57, No on Proposition 62, No on Proposition 64 and Yes on Proposition 66. For a complete list of our endorsed candidates as well as our positions on the various initiatives, please go to www.porac.org.
Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor
We recently honored seven peace officers and one firefighter who went above and beyond the call of duty. During the ceremony held in Sacramento in early September, Attorney General Harris stated: “These heroes demonstrated unparalleled valor and courage, risking their own safety and well-being, in incredibly difficult and dangerous circumstances. Their bravery embodies the spirit of public service and exemplifies the best of these noble professions.”
The Governor’s Medal of Valor recipients are California Highway Patrol Officer Brett Peters, San Diego Firefighter Alexander Wallbrett, Redlands Police Officer Joseph Aguilar, San Bernardino Police Officers Nicholas Koahou and Brian Olvera, San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department Corporals Rafael Ixco and Chad Johnson, and San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Deputy Bruce Southworth. Thank you for protecting our communities, families and everyone in our great state. PORAC congratulates these brave heroes.
PORAC was recently invited to observe Urban Shield training, hosted by Alameda County Sheriff Greg Ahern. Alameda Sheriff’s Captain Don Mattison was in charge of the event, which brought together more than 50 SWAT teams, EMS personnel, bomb technicians and just about every other type of rescue personnel from around the region. The exercise consists of several individual scenarios located all over the Bay Area. The teams start on Friday morning at 5 a.m. and continue for 48 straight hours, being challenged at every turn.
Each year, two additional California agencies are invited to participate. This year, one of them was my own Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department Special Enforcement Team. I had the opportunity to observe many of the scenarios for my own team as well as several other teams who participated.
Alameda Sheriff’s Commander Tom Madigan is recognized as one of the nation’s top representatives for deploying drones to assist law enforcement. We were given a demonstration of their capability to see what dangers our officers may encounter long before they are put into harm’s way. PORAC will be working with Commander Madigan and others to make sure this technology is available to law enforcement.
Alameda Sheriff’s Sergeant Neil Gonzalgo navigated the roads and freeways to bring us to the various events throughout the Bay Area and got us directly into the scenarios to optimize our time. PORAC thanks Sheriff Ahern and Captain Mattison, who provided a great venue to observe some of the best of the best in our members.