I want to start by thanking all the members who were able to join us for the 66th Annual Conference of Members in Reno. Conference is always a special time for PORAC. The gathering not only gives our members the opportunity to come together before the busy holiday season commences, but it also brings them up to speed on important organizational, trust and benefit updates so that they can confidently head into the new year knowing where PORAC stands and where it’s headed.
Unfortunately, our members arrived at this year’s Conference with heavy hearts because of a series of devastating events affecting law enforcement and communities throughout the state.
On November 8, Ventura County Sheriff’s Sergeant Ron Helus was killed trying to stop an active shooter at the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks. Helus, along with two CHP officers, entered the bar and immediately engaged with the shooter, who struck Helus multiple times. Helus died along with 12 others that night. His brave actions saved many lives, and he and the other responding officers are heroes. Sergeant Helus’ actions epitomize service above self, and tragedies like these are what makes our profession unique: we never know whether we’ll make it back home at the end of a shift. He will never be forgotten!
Hours after losing one of their own, deputies in Ventura were confronted with another tragedy. The Woolsey Fire erupted in Simi Valley on November 8 and began destroying parts of Los Angeles and Ventura counties. With no time to grieve, Ventura deputies and officers sprang into lifesaving mode, working alongside firefighters to protect life and property. At the same time, in Northern California’s Butte County, the destructive Camp Fire broke out, wiping out the town of Paradise and its surrounding area. This fire has become the nation’s deadliest in a century, killing over 80 people, and the most destructive in California’s history, scorching more than 150,000 acres and destroying nearly 19,000 structures.
With the loss of an officer and two fires burning across both ends of the state in the forefront of our minds, PORAC had to conduct business during Conference. I ask that you please keep Sergeant Helus’ family, colleagues and friends in your thoughts and prayers. It will be a difficult road to healing for Helus’ family, but rest assured that they’ll always have the unwavering support of the larger blue family. I ask that you also keep the first responders fighting these fires in your thoughts. We realize how incredibly devastating fires can be on our first responders and their communities, so PORAC has a created a charity fund to help those affected by the wildfires. Please visit cahpcu.org/wildfireReliefFund and consider making a donation today.
Before delving into highlights from the Conference, I want to recognize Vice President Brent Meyer for all his years of hard work and dedication to PORAC. I appreciate the tremendous work he has done during his past five years as vice president. He always stepped up when needed, valued and cared for our members and always made himself available to answer questions. During his tenure, he refined our recruitment and retention program and worked diligently to increase the size of PORAC. It was a great pleasure to be able to work alongside him to take PORAC to the next level. Thank you for your service, Brent, and all the best on your new endeavors!
I would like to welcome Damon Kurtz, past president of Fresno POA, as our new vice president. Damon was elected by acclamation since he had no opponent. I’m excited to start new projects and to continue to build on what Brent has done for PORAC. I think Damon and I will make an excellent team, and we will continue to be PORAC’s voice in the state and national Capitols and provide our members with top-notch training and benefits.
During Conference, we had one executive officer election for the position of treasurer. Longtime Treasurer Marcelo Blanco lost his reelection bid to Tim Davis of Sacramento POA. I would like to thank Marcelo for his incredible work as treasurer and chair of both the Fiscal Management and Budget Committees, positions he has held for nine years. He provided PORAC with a solid financial footing and was diligent in overseeing finances to ensure that we stayed well within our budget while also increasing our reserves to ensure that we would be able to fight any battle that came our way. Everyone owes Marcelo a debt gratitude for all he has done to help our organization thrive financially.
To that end, I want to welcome Tim as our new treasurer. I look forward to working with him and to continuing the tradition that Marcelo has set for PORAC and his stewardship of its finances. I know Tim will do an excellent job as our next treasurer.
With the new team of executive officers in place, I am hopeful that we will meet and exceed membership expectations and our organization’s vision for the future. We will work together to oversee PORAC’s branding, goals, mission and image and continue to vigorously protect and defend the benefits of all our members in public safety. I anticipate 2019 being as difficult, if not more so than 2018.
In closing, we’re thankful for our families and loved ones who support law enforcement. Each day of work could be our last, so their support means the world. Merry Christmas, happy Hanukkah, happy holidays and happy new year!