Speaking Up for You in D.C.
In late September, representatives of your PORAC Board of Directors traveled back to Washington, D.C., to meet with our California congressional delegation and other leaders from around the country. Earlier this year, after conferring with our advocates at Steptoe & Johnson, it was recommended that we plan a second trip to meet with our delegation and, most importantly, with congressional leadership in the various committees responsible for law enforcement policy and funding.
During this trip one of our primary goals was to meet with members of the Law Enforcement Caucus, as well as recommend to our California congressional members that they get involved with this very important caucus.
The congressional Law Enforcement Caucus was established in 1994 to serve as a clearinghouse for information and sounding board for ideas brought forth by the law enforcement community. Today, led by Representatives Dave Reichert (R-Wash.) and Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.), the caucus is a bipartisan working group of over 80 members of Congress who seek an open forum to address issues affecting the law enforcement community.
On July 29 this year, Representative Reichert and House Republican Policy Committee Chairman Luke Messer (R-Ind.) launched the Republican Policy Committee Law Enforcement Task Force. The task force is chaired by Representative Reichert, and it aims to examine the primary drivers of recent conflicts between local law enforcement and the communities they serve. Collectively its Republican members have over 90 years of law enforcement experience.
During the meetings with representatives from various committees around the country, PORAC emphasized that more than ever we need to have our elected officials standing shoulder to shoulder with public safety throughout the country. Many months ago, we all witnessed the opportunistic display of elected representatives standing on the steps outside of the U.S. Capitol with their hands up, referencing “Hands up, don’t shoot.” PORAC asked many of the leaders we met with why there has been no public apology or clarification since forensic evidence has completely dispelled the myth that Michael Brown attempted to surrender in Ferguson. Our hope is that by continuing to work with the Law Enforcement Caucus, we can inspire its members to take the lead in standing up for public safety.
All of our meetings with our congressional representatives were very positive and they were responsive to our concerns. Although
we met with many elected officials, two of the meetings stood out to many of us in attendance.
First was Congressman Garamendi, who met with several of our PORAC leaders. Congressman Garamendi made it a point to emphasize his willingness to assist our members in the ravaged burn areas of Lake County, caused by the Valley Fire that took many lives and displaced thousands. PORAC Directors Gary Frace and Jim Ryan greatly appreciated the assistance already offered by the federal government, which was spearheaded by Congressman Garamendi.
The second noteworthy meeting was with Congressman Eric Swalwell. Once again, Congressman Swalwell hosted many of us in his office, as well as joined us for a relaxing evening outside of the Capitol. Law enforcement is very fortunate to have such a close ally in Washington, D.C. Whether an officer safety issue, tragic line-of-duty death, or as simple as asking for a PORAC position on certain issues, Swalwell is always the first congressman to contact PORAC.
Latest Reed/DeMaio Pension Attacks
After failing twice to qualify ballot measures that unfairly and illegally undermine constitutionally protected and negotiated retirements of law enforcement officers — as well all other public employees — former San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed and ex-San Diego Council Member Carl DeMaio are submitting two more ballot measures that are equally punitive, and make devastating changes to employees’ pensions and healthcare benefits. These initiatives will be certified for circulation around December 1, 2015. The first seeks to eliminate defined benefit pensions for all new public employees. The second limits retirement contributions by employers, forcing employee pay cuts of 7% to 39%. Applied, both initiatives would hurt recruitment efforts, punish employees who change jobs, and take away death and disability benefits for those injured or killed in the line of duty.
PORAC has been instrumental in turning back the ill-conceived Reed/DeMaio efforts in the past. However, the retirement security of law enforcement officers continues to be at risk. We are keeping a vigilant eye on these new initiatives and are working closely with our advocates Aaron Read & Associates and Marketplace Communications to provide information for PORAC members to use in discussing these initiatives with their colleagues, families and communities.
For a complete list of talking points & analysis of the latest pension initiatives CLICK HERE