C.O.P.S. Grand Opening
Since 1984, C.O.P.S. has assisted surviving family members coping with the tragic loss of a loved one who died in the line of duty. Concerns of Police Survivors is a national organization that offers families resources, along with emotional, peer and financial support. It also provides training and helps law enforcement agencies deal with the loss of their friend and colleague.
C.O.P.S., whose membership is 47,000 survivors strong, recently celebrated the expansion and renovation of its headquarters in Camdenton, Missouri. I’m happy and honored that PORAC was part of it.
PORAC has always been a strong supporter of C.O.P.S. Before my presidency, we sponsored one of the conference rooms during the C.O.P.S. capital campaign to raise the funds for this project. In recognition of that, Vice President Brent Meyer, Past President Mike Durant and I were invited to the ribbon cutting and grand opening festivities in July.
We toured the building and met with the staff, many of whom are survivors themselves. In that sense, the staff members are living proof to newly grieving families that they are not alone, and that they, too, will get past the pain and rebuild their lives.
As we walked down the “Road to Hope,” we came upon the “Garden of Hope,” a courtyard area in the middle of the building. In the center of the garden, which was unveiled during the ceremony, was a sculpture of the “C.O.P.S. Family Tree.” This area is a peaceful place for survivors to reflect on their fallen officers and leave a message about what C.O.P.S. has meant to them.
C.O.P.S. did a fantastic job renovating and expanding their facility (See “C.O.P.S. Grand Opening” on page 16 for photos). I am thankful for all the support and work they do on behalf of our profession and especially for the survivors of our fallen. The increased space will allow them to provide even more training and help, so if you are ever in the area, you should stop by, say hi and check it out. To see more of what they are doing, go to nationalcops.org.
AB 931 Update
As I write my article for September, the last two weeks of the legislative session are in full swing. PORAC is working with several law enforcement groups throughout California to make sure that AB 931 doesn’t pass the Legislature. This proposal calls for changing the police use-of-force standard from “reasonable” to “necessary,” and only as a last resort.
We all know that in a life-or-death situation when decisions are made in split seconds, it’s not always possible to run through a mental checklist to be sure all options are exhausted before using force. This measure would make it harder for law enforcement to do their jobs and make it easier to prosecute officers.
As I have stated many times before, neither the two authors — Assembly Members Shirley Weber (D-San Diego) and Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento) — nor the sponsor ever reached out to us when they drafted the bill. This is a shame because the front-line patrol officers will be the ones suffering the consequences of this poorly drafted legislation.
When the bill was originally drafted, the authors claimed there would be no cost to the State. I can only guess they were hoping to race it through the Senate before anyone caught on. It was recognized for what it was and sent to the Senate Appropriations Committee, where it went into the “suspense file.” This basically means a bill has a fiscal impact and has been set aside by the Appropriations Committee by a majority of members present and voting. These bills may be heard at a later hearing. On August 16, AB 931 was moved to the Rules Committee pending a decision to release it to the floor as is, with amendments, or to hold it. If it is held, it will most likely die for this session.
It should be noted that this bill will be costly if it passes. POST has said that it would run in the tens of millions of dollars or more to train and retrain officers throughout the State to this new standard. This doesn’t include any other agency’s costs, and it’s unknown what the collective costs would be.
Given that departments across the state are facing severe staffing shortages, increased overtime and stagnant budgets, the burden this bill would place on law enforcement would be onerous. Where will the funding come from? All I ever hear is how we need more and more training, yet POST continues to see their budget dwindle and not a word (or plan, for that matter) on bringing their budget back in line with the desires of so many elected officials.
AB 931 isn’t practical for a variety of reasons. PORAC and several other partner associations are taking the fight to the public to garner support. Sadly, an anti-police crowd has been elevated by the media to where they are dictating public-safety policy, not only in California but nationally.
Hopefully, I will have better news to report next month.
All the best.