With the close of 2018 behind us, we welcome 2019 with a new set of goals and continued work on past projects. The Christmas holiday season gave us a chance to look back on our organization’s successes and the areas in which we need to strengthen. January is a good time to reset and look forward to the challenges ahead and we have quite a few.
Aside from fighting the continuing legislative bills that seek to attack the very work we do in protecting the public, I would like to focus on our training program. I firmly believe our associations and members should have more opportunities for training, to prepare ourselves for what we face every day as association leaders. PORAC offers five core training classes annually. Last year we added media training and brought back the line of duty death training. We are in the process of analyzing the feedback from both of those classes. It is my goal to add these two classes to our annual training curriculum.
As PORAC assesses our training program, I am looking at how effective our training is. Is it up to date? Timely? What other types of training should we be offering? With that in mind, I think it would be very beneficial for us to partner with the Force Science Institute. It was an important step to have Dr. Bill Lewinski speak about the science of shootings at the Conference of Members in November. The information is vital to us as we try to explain and have people understand use-of-force incidents. We are currently working with Force Science to begin holding two regularly scheduled trainings in California. We anticipate kicking these off in 2020. This partnership would allow Force Science to offer more classes in California, and PORAC members would save on travel costs by not having to fly out of state for the sessions. Keep an eye out for more details as we finalize this partnership and what it will look like.
On top of that, POST just launched their Innovations Grant Program. One of the categories for this grant program is officer wellness. In 2017, 140 officers committed suicide and some of the research regarding this subject says this is underreported. Yet less than 5% of departments have suicide-prevention programs. I know a lot of agencies are trying to address officer wellness, but it is incumbent upon associations to be the leaders and assist their agencies to implement these programs. The reality is we witness death and destruction daily and that takes a toll on us. I have directed our training manager, Claude Albers, to prepare a grant solicitation to kick this program off. If our proposal is accepted, I am hoping we can start the training in late 2019 or implement it as part of our 2020 curriculum.
In addition to looking at our program, I want to start branding PORAC’s training. We will be updating the logo and changing the name. I want to raise the bar and make our training even better. I am still working with Claude on creating a video-based training program. This would not only provide our members an opportunity to get training 24/7, but it also would entice them to attend our in-depth in-person training.
I know last year was very challenging for our profession. We lost several members of our family. All of them heroes serving their communities. We suffered major fires at the beginning and end of the year and had active-shooter incidents. The pace at which we’re doing things has increased. Demands on public safety have increased exponentially, yet the number of people wanting to join this distinguished profession has dropped off. A recent Washington Post article reported that nearly 66% of almost 400 police departments surveyed said their applicant pool had shrunk. We at PORAC will continue to fight to ensure the respect and dignity our members deserve. I want to welcome our new vice president, Damon Kurtz, Fresno POA, and treasurer, Timothy Davis, Sacramento POA, who officially took their seats January 1.
Best wishes for a safe and happy new year.