Last month was the annual California Peace Officers’ Memorial Ceremony in Sacramento as well as National Police Week in Washington, D.C. Both ceremonies were solemn events that honored our fallen heroes from 2016, one Oakland officer from 2015 and four officers from years past who had formerly been unrecognized.
One of the deputies memorialized was Tulare County Deputy Scott Ballantyne, EOW: February 10, 2016. PORAC had the privilege of being the facilitator for Deputy Ballantyne’s family. PORAC was also honored to provide lunch for each person attending the Memorial Ceremony.
A few short days after the ceremonies in Sacramento, Vice President Brent Meyer and I traveled to Washington, D.C., for Police Week and the various ceremonies in our nation’s capital. The candlelight vigil attracted more than 40,000 law enforcement professionals from around the country and beyond. Two days later, we participated in the memorial service on the Capitol grounds. Thank you to National Chapter Liaison Tami McMillan for prominently recognizing PORAC as a partner of Concerns of Police Survivors. Thanks also to Northern Chapter President Susan Moody and Central California Chapter President Jim Howell for assisting PORAC during the week. After leaving the ceremony, I reminded myself of just how important it is for us to be there to recognize these heroes from around the country. I urge all of you to attend National Police Week in D.C. at least once in your career; it has been one of the most rewarding experiences of mine.
Board Meeting and Legislative Day
In early May, your Board met in Sacramento in conjunction with our state Memorial Ceremony. Four times a year the PORAC Board meets to discuss issues facing our members; whether political, policies, or furthering our advocacy in both Sacramento and Washington, D.C., we should be very proud of the dedication of our Board and the work each of these members is doing on behalf of all peace officers in California and Nevada. Once again, PORAC is the leader throughout the state in advocating for officers’ rights and benefits.
On Legislative Day, our Board of Directors, chapter presidents and association leaders from throughout the state converge in Sacramento to walk the halls of the Capitol discussing legislation that could have a tremendous impact on all of law enforcement. To get things started this year, Aaron Read, Randy Perry and Michele Cervone provided PORAC with detailed talking points, then after a short briefing by Randy and Aaron, each of us met with our respective legislators and discussed our priorities.
After our meetings at the Capitol, our Board, chapter representatives and association leaders met with several of these legislators across the street at the Sutter Club for our legislative reception. Our event was attended by well over 75 state representatives, who had a chance to mingle with the leadership of PORAC in a much more relaxed and informal atmosphere. It was clearly one of our most successful advocacy events in recent years.
California State Sheriffs’ Association Conference
Over the years, PORAC has been working more closely with both Cal Chiefs and the California State Sheriffs’ Association (CSSA) in an effort to bring a more united front on issues such as RIPA and other legislation detrimental to public safety.
In late April, PORAC attended the CSSA Conference, hosted by the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office (SBSO). At the various events, I had the opportunity to talk with Cal Chiefs’ former President Ken Corney (Ventura P.D.) and Kings County Sheriff David Robinson. Chief Corney has very detailed knowledge of RIPA, and Sheriff Robinson is a RIPA Board member. We discussed the various regulations we believed would be included in the testing that went out to 30 agencies throughout California. These were all very informative meetings and sheriffs attending from around the state learned about the relationship that PORAC has with our management representatives on these common issues.
During the various evening social events, I was able to meet with SBSO Sheriff Bill Brown, Undersheriff Bernard Melekian and Retired SBSO Sheriff Jim Thomas. During the conference, Sheriff Brown was sworn in as the newest CSSA President. I also had the opportunity to catch up with many of my department friends and co-workers. The event was a great success and made me very proud to be a part of the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office.