Brian R. Marvel
First and foremost, I want to give a big thank-you to all the delegates who joined us at the 67th Annual Conference of Members in Palm Springs. I also hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving with their family and friends and you’re enjoying the run-up to Christmas and New Year’s.
Conference is always an important time for PORAC as we conduct our organization’s business; hopefully, everyone who attended found it useful. It’s also a great opportunity to network with your colleagues from around the state, enjoy unique training opportunities, discuss the past year and look forward to the future.
We had two great training sessions at Conference this year. The first, led by Deputy Chief Chris Hsiung of the Mountain View P.D., discussed the significance of social media and how our associations can utilize it as part of their communication strategy. In the modern era, when law enforcement must deal with a narrative crafted by the press, it is crucial that we maintain a narrative of our own and counter the mainstream media, which doesn’t always get it right.
The second course, led by Dr. Kimberly Miller, was all about officer wellness and mental health. It focused on the ways officers can cope with the job’s inherent stress and potential burnout, and Dr. Miller presented us with healthy coping strategies, possibilities for intervention and much more. In today’s climate, officer wellness is becoming a priority issue for law enforcement across the country. As officer suicides are outpacing line-of-duty deaths, it is vitally important that we focus on our mental wellbeing. To help with that, this year PORAC launched its POWER Project class to address challenges to officer wellness, and we look forward to introducing even more wellness classes in the future with the help of our new training coordinator, Cathy Sharp. In addition, associations need to start adding wellness clauses in negotiated MOUs to drive home the importance of this issue.
I hope you found these courses as useful and important as I did, and that you learned things you will be able to incorporate into your own life and bring back to your individual associations to help your fellow peace officers. It is essential that we support each other as we deal with this mental health crisis.
As I spoke with a lot of delegates during Conference, I got a sense that it went very smoothly and was very low stress. Thank you all for your support of our bylaw revisions. I am looking forward to the expansion of the Retiree Medical Trust as a national program and the creation of the new Statewide Chapter. There’s a lot of good stuff on the horizon, and I couldn’t be prouder of the accomplishments to date.
We continue to have a strong voice in Sacramento and Washington, D.C., and we couldn’t do it without your support. Our team in Sacramento is led by Aaron Read and Associates, with Steptoe and Johnson handling our D.C. operations. The harder we work, the better the results we will see.
As 2019 winds down, it’s a good time to take stock of the past year and how we fared. It’s no secret that we’ve had a difficult year legislatively in California. Our top priorities in the state Capitol were SB 230 and AB 392, legislation that has recently been signed by the governor that will put a halt, hopefully, to the continued drive to criminalize officers for doing their jobs.
It’s important that we focus on our successes. Dim as it may seem sometimes, a new generation of officers are joining our ranks, and they will provide the next voice of support for our members into the future. I applaud them for stepping up and taking on the mantle of association leadership. I highly recommend they read Man in the Arena by Teddy Roosevelt. It always inspired me as I faced difficulties as an association leader.
With that being said, our work is never done. There is a lot of hard work on the horizon in 2020, particularly as the political season ramps up in advance of the next presidential election. I know you are hard at work protecting and serving your communities, but I hope you will be able to stay politically engaged during this crucial time.
During what is sure to be a politically charged and divisive year, we as law enforcement must be courageous enough to stand up and have our voices heard. Nobody is going to do it for us, and we need the support of all our members to help PORAC move issues forward.
Thank you again for all the support you’ve given PORAC this year. The holiday season is a wonderful time, and please be safe as the year winds down. Take care of yourself, take care of your colleagues and take care of your loved ones. I wish you all a very merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and a happy new year.
If you feel you are struggling, reach out to Copline at (800) 267-5463.