Last month’s state and national law enforcement memorial ceremonies were a sobering reminder that our profession continues to be one of the most dangerous out there. In California, the names of eight officers who died in the line of duty last year and two who died in previous years were added to the California Peace Officers’ Memorial at the State Capitol. In Washington, D.C., 371 officers who died in the line of duty — including 158 who died in 2018 — were added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. PORAC joined law enforcement nationwide in not only honoring the service and sacrifice of these brave men and women but also paying respects to the families, friends and colleagues they left behind. We will never forget!
In the wake of these memorials, we should be thinking about how we conduct business. Are we being safe? Are we using contact and cover? Are we keeping our colleagues safe? The reason I bring this up is that the U.S. Department of Justice, FBI, in collaboration with West Virginia University released a report titled, “Ambushes and Unprovoked Attacks: Assaults on Our Nation’s Law Enforcement Officers.” The data from this report reveals that attacks without warning have steadily increased over the last 30 years. PORAC shared this report at the end of May. I hope you give it a read. If we don’t protect ourselves, no one will.
Our state’s poignant memorial ceremony set the tone for our meeting with our lawmakers during our annual Legislative Day with the Board of Directors. PORAC leadership had the opportunity to meet with legislators to discuss the most pressing issues facing our members and public safety. Of course, the status of use-of-force legislation dominated discussions, as SB 230 was recently amended. In addition, we had to let legislators know the coalition supporting AB 392 had not met with us or given any indication that they wanted to amend their bill, which was contrary to what the author said in the Assembly Public Safety Committee hearing. After all our meetings and spending most of, if not the entire day at the Capitol, everyone felt it was quite successful and informative.
On that note, you may have noticed that for the past few months we have been utilizing all forms of communication to educate our members about the battle over use-of-force legislation and its importance to our profession. There have been magazine articles, On the Job With PORAC podcast episodes, e-blasts and social media posts dedicated to giving our members the most relevant, up-to-date commentary and news about this important issue. We even made it easy for members to reach out to their legislators with a custom digital action alert portal.
We send out these messages not to sound like a broken record, but to keep you informed and knowledgeable about legislation affecting you. It’s all part of the job of PORAC’s leadership, which is to educate, organize and advocate for your interests on the local, state and national levels and to ensure that your rights as peace officers are protected. However, we can’t do this without you.
I know folks are extremely busy with their work and families, but these uncertain times require us to be involved. If you aren’t staying engaged on the issues affecting your career and the profession you and I love, then you better be OK with having people with no understanding of law enforcement determining how we do our jobs, what types of training we receive and what our best practices should be. Apathy, indifference and nonparticipation will be the death of our pay, benefits and working conditions.
Members of the PORAC Board of Directors, along with chapter and association leaders, are putting in 40-plus hours on the job, participating in union business and handling PORAC duties on top of balancing family life — they need your help. The most basic thing members can do is attend your chapter meetings, which exist to keep you apprised of local, state and federal issues and provide you with an open forum to discuss them. What we have seen last year and this year is just the tip of the iceberg.
With a series of legislative battles brewing, we need you to step up and do what you can. Help us help you. It’s as simple as attending chapter meetings. As you’ll read later in this issue, the Los Angeles South Chapter reports that one of its biggest challenges is getting members to attend meetings. This problem is, unfortunately, far from unique. We’ve had chapters tell us time and time again that their member attendance has been dropping. If you are attending chapter meetings, I challenge you to bring two members who haven’t attended and then challenge them to bring two members and so on.
What we also need you to do is talk to your families and colleagues about issues affecting law enforcement and communicate your views to your local legislators via email, snail mail or phone calls. What we have found to be one of the most effective influences on our elected leaders is hearing from their constituents, especially those who vote and donate! As a constituent, a member of PORAC or a supporter of public safety, your voice goes a long way and helps us in Sacramento and Washington, D.C. We are the largest law enforcement organization in California and the largest statewide association in the nation, let’s make it count!
Thank you for all your support!