Brian R. Marvel
Last month, the cover of this magazine said, “Resolve to get involved,” and that’s going to continue to be our motto for this entire year. I probably sound like a broken record, but I want to once again remind you how important it is to be actively engaged, not only in your association but in what’s happening at the state and national levels. I can’t stress that enough, especially as this is a presidential election year. We need to let our elected leaders know that we’re paying attention to the legislation being passed in Sacramento and Washington, D.C. — or the lack thereof, in the latter! There are plenty of obstacles in our path. We can’t allow ourselves to become one of them. The strength and expertise of PORAC mean that when legislation relates to public safety and law enforcement, we are often called upon to discuss our point of view, craft language or provide amendments that improve public safety but don’t jeopardize the safety and working conditions of our members. On the flip side, we occasionally see and will continue to see, certain elected officials who have an agenda to appease a vocal minority and don’t want to work with us on legislation. Sometimes, they will claim to have spoken with us when they haven’t. As we continue to stress the importance of having PORAC at the table, your voice and activism will make certain that every legislator understands we can’t be ignored.
When we can demonstrate that our more than 75,000 members are all closely monitoring their actions, promoting our positions loud and clear, and voting accordingly, we send a message to our elected officials that we stand united as a force to be reckoned with — which allows us to be even more effective in our efforts in both Sacramento and Washington.
Already, as we continue to expand our footprint in our nation’s capital, we’re increasingly being asked to step up and provide our insight on what is happening in California. We have plenty of firsthand expertise on the damage done by measures like Prop 47, Prop 57 and AB 109, and our testimonials can help to ensure that the federal government
doesn’t make the same mistakes our state is making when it comes to public safety.
Our expertise will be needed at the state level as well because we recently learned that California has formed a committee to look at revising the Penal Code. We don’t have many details yet, but I want to make sure this is on your radar, because any cop knows that change to the Penal Code are likely to have a significant impact on our jobs. Unfortunately, at the time of this writing, it appears that none of the members of this new committee have any meaningful prosecutorial or victims’ rights background, which is very disconcerting. Over the last several years, it has increasingly appeared that victims of crime just get lip service from the state, whereas criminals are practically placed on a pedestal. Since we don’t have a seat on the committee, hopefully, we can at least provide letters and testimony conveying our input on penal code revisions that may be detrimental to public safety as well as the members of our profession.
If you’re committed to growing your engagement with PORAC in 2020, attending our annual Symposium April 21–23 in Indian Wells is a great step in the right direction. We have a fantastic lineup of speakers this year who will provide crucial information on the issues that directly affect all of us. One I’d particularly like to highlight is Shelby Chodos, a professor at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, whose presentation is entitled “Out of the Recession Into the Future.” He has an incredible ability to take very complicated financial subjects and make them much more easily understood. The nation’s economy has been growing for the last 11 years, which surpasses the 10-year expansion from 1991 to 2001. As a lot of associations begin to start contract negotiations, he will provide insight on the path ahead.
I also want to strongly encourage you to participate in our inaugural POREF Open Golf Tournament following Symposium. It’s vitally important that we continue to fundraise for our Peace Officers Relief & Education Fund, which not only helps our members with direct cash contributions during extreme hardships, but also assists our family members via scholarships — it’s cops taking care of cops, and I can’t think of a much worthier cause than that. Even if you can’t attend the full Symposium, please try to support the golf tournament in any capacity you can, so we can get this exciting new event off to a strong start.
As we observed Martin Luther King Jr. Day a few days before I sat down to write this, I was struck by a quote making the rounds on social media. Frequently attributed to Dr. King but actually a paraphrase of a statement he made in one of his speeches, it says, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” This is such a powerful idea, and it is quite literally true for those of us who risk our lives in the service of others. No matter what challenges lie ahead, please join with PORAC in continuing to speak out about what matters.