Last month, your PORAC Executive Committee traveled to our nation’s capital to meet with our California Congressional delegation and many other policymakers. Joining us this year was our newest PORAC Executive Committee member, Don Morrissey from Santa Clara DSA. Don replaced James Gonzales from San Jose POA, who stepped away from PORAC to take on a new assignment at San Jose Police Department.
We started our fly-in with a briefing from our Washington, D.C., advocates at Steptoe & Johnson. Darryl Nirenberg, Eva Rigamonti and Cameron O’Brien gave us a complete rundown on what is shaping the new Congress in Washington, plus a better picture of what is and is not happening with the new administration. Steptoe & Johnson once again did a great job of prioritizing our meetings with our representatives from around California, as well as setting up several law-enforcement-related committee meetings and a meeting with White House counsel.
The following morning we began our meetings, which lasted the better part of the day. The same was true for the following day. In total, PORAC representatives attended more than 30 meetings in two days, covering a long list of priorities that PORAC and Steptoe had identified as most important, not only to California law enforcement but to law enforcement throughout the country.
One of the meetings all of the PORAC representatives attended was with our good friend Eric Swalwell. Since first being elected to Congress many years ago, Congressman Swalwell has been a great advocate for law enforcement, namely PORAC. As a past prosecutor and with his father and brother wearing a badge, it is no wonder why he completely understands our issues. Each time we are back in D.C., he will always find the time to meet with representatives of PORAC to hear our concerns or to ask us to assist him in gathering support for legislation that is pertinent to public safety in our country. As the meeting was concluding with Congressman Swalwell, he presented me with a Congressional Record (similar to a resolution) commending me and PORAC for our many years of service in representing California law enforcement. I was completely taken by surprise and overwhelmed at his recognition of my service to Santa Barbara County and PORAC. I would like to thank Eva Rigamonti and PORAC Vice President Brent Meyer for assisting Congressman Swalwell in gathering the information that was included in the Congressional Record. Although none of us got into association leadership for self-gratification, receiving this level of recognition by a leader in Congress was very heartfelt and will be cherished for many years.
For a number of years, PORAC has worked collectively with many state organizations in Sacramento for the betterment of law enforcement. Both Past President Ron Cottingham and I have made mention of the relationship between PORAC and the California State Sheriffs’ Association. Their advocates, Nick Warner and most recently Cory Salzillo, have worked together with PORAC and our advocates, Aaron Read and Randy Perry, to make sure law enforcement in California has a united voice on most issues.
The current president of CSSA is Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown. He recently penned an article on SB 54 (Law Enforcement: Sharing Data) for the most recent issue of the CSSA magazine. I want to include an excerpt from that article to show our membership the collaboration between our two organizations. The complete article can be viewed at www.calsheriffs.org/resource-center/magazine/past-issues. A special thanks to my Sheriff Bill Brown for providing PORAC with this information:
“The saga of SB 54 began eight months ago, but the bill that was sent to the Governor for his signature bears little resemblance to its original version. In its first iterations this bill would have precluded most communication and interaction between local law enforcement officers and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. ICE agents would have been excluded from our jails, and as a result most undocumented criminals would have been released from jail and recycled into our communities to reoffend. Thanks to the efforts of our Association, our strong alliance with the California Police Chiefs Association, the California Peace Officers Association, and the Peace Officers Research Association of California, and the intervention of Governor Brown, SB 54 was considerably pared down; to the point its passage became a Pyrrhic victory for the author and its advocates.
“Illegal immigration is a very difficult, long-standing and emotive issue. It won’t be solved by keeping local cops from talking to federal agents who are responsible for homeland security investigations. What is needed is comprehensive immigration reform at the federal level, a tall order especially when our political parties have never been more polarized. Although passage of SB 54 will be lauded by many, even in its weakened form it remains a hazardous law that will come back to haunt those who have passed it.”
PORAC and CSSA remain opposed to SB 54 because collectively we believe it to be bad public policy.