Brian R. Marvel
No sooner did we kick off Police Week on May 13 than two California officers, San Luis Obispo Police Detective Lucas “Luca” Benedetti and Stockton Police Officer Jimmy Inn, were killed in the line of duty. These two officers dedicated their lives to serving and protecting their community and our nation. They were also true professionals, dedicated to their agencies, and hardworking who made their community safer for everyone. They served and sacrificed for a purpose far greater than themselves. I can think of no truer definition of a hero. May God bless Luca and Jimmy. We shall never forget the memory of our heroes.
POREF Receives Accreditation by National Charity Assessor Organizations
As we mourn the loss of Detective Benedetti and Officer Inn, it reminds me why the Fund a Hero platform is so important for our members. There are absolutely no fees if the platform is used for a line-of-duty death. With that said, we owe it to our members to make sure our charity fund meets the highest standards of accountability. PORAC’s Peace Officer Relief and Education Fund (POREF) recently received the Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar. In addition, we are working with Charity Navigator and BBB Wise Giving Alliance to meet their highest levels of accreditation.
If you are not familiar, POREF was formed by PORAC as a separate nonprofit public benefit corporation for educational, training and relief purposes in 1980. One of the main functions of POREF is the scholarship program, which is available to dependents of our active and retired members and the spouse or dependents of active members who died in the line of duty. The scholarship program is part of PORAC’s ongoing commitment to our members and their families. While scholarships are not limited to any particular field of study, we hope it will encourage young people to consider law enforcement as an honorable career worthy of pursuing.
PORAC is very proud of this program and the resources we make available to support the educational, training and relief goals of members and their families. Receiving accreditation by several national charity assessors helps us to reach more families by verifying POREF with their stamps of approval, allowing donors to rest easy knowing their donations are being used for the exact purpose they were given for.
Unfortunately, and far too often, bad actors will form their own police “charity” organizations that exploit goodhearted, caring and generous donors for personal benefit. My parents receive phone calls on a regular basis from a so-called police charity. This charity’s Form 990 had $3.5 million in income and $4.2 million in expenses. In the expense category, only $313,000 went out as grants, and stunningly, the management was paid $600,000. Another organization took in $3.2 million in income and only spent $120,000 in grants, while the rest was paid to the fundraisers.
We are working to create and spearhead federal laws to mitigate or eliminate, if possible, bad actors from police charities. But sadly, we know they exist, tarnishing our profession along with our ability to fundraise effectively. Rest assured that PORAC is doing everything in our power to eliminate them, and I hope our members and your families are never taken advantage of by these scams.
Please always check charity assessor websites to ensure an organization is legitimate. With POREF’s recent accreditation, we will be able to expand the reach of this incredibly important charity organization and provide even more officers and their families with the opportunity to pursue their educational goals. If you cannot support POREF, please support your local police union charity fund.
A Message From Congressman Richard Neal
In this month’s issue of PORAC Law Enforcement News, we are honored to have a message from House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.-1) on page 46. Congressman Neal is the sponsor of H.R. 2337, the Public Servants Protection and Fairness Act.
Congressman Neal’s bill seeks to address a problem that has long plagued law enforcement officers and other public servants, the Social Security Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP). The WEP reduces the Social Security benefits of anyone receiving a pension from a “non-covered” job where they were not required to pay Social Security taxes. Often, this means state and local jobs, including state and local law enforcement positions.
However, because peace officers tend to retire earlier than other employees and are more likely to begin a second, “covered” career outside of the public safety profession, law enforcement officers are disproportionally affected by the WEP. These peace officers deserve to receive the pension they earned through their service and the Social Security benefits they spent years paying into. And due to inadequate notification requirements, many public safety officers are blindsided by the reduction when it comes time to collect their Social Security.
The Public Servants Protection and Fairness Act fixes these problems, and Congressman Neal explains how in his own words in this month’s issue. PORAC is committed to the bill’s success and will be working with the congressman and our lobbying team to do all we can to advance this important measure through the legislative process.
PORAC’s Election Manual Approved
This past month, PORAC’s Board of Directors voted to approve a new election manual that outlines the policies and procedures for every elected position available at PORAC. Developing this manual was long overdue, especially for an organization our size, and I am hoping it will serve as a great resource for all things involving PORAC elections.
In creating the election manual, PORAC had two primary purposes in mind. The first was to compile in one place a comprehensive and thorough summary of the many duties and responsibilities of those in charge of conducting PORAC elections fairly and in compliance with our bylaws, standing rules, policies and procedures.
The second purpose was to provide members who may be interested in running for the first time with the information they need to participate in the process. Holding an elected PORAC position is an honorable and rewarding opportunity for our members, and we want to ensure first-time candidates have clear guidance on how to seek office. We also want to ensure that both first-time candidates and incumbents running for re-election are aware of and able to continue meeting the requirements, expectations and responsibilities we place on candidates seeking office.
As we continue to update and solidify our elections process, any candidate running for office will receive the election manual once PORAC becomes aware of their candidacy. In addition, we will be amending our standing rules to create an election committee that will be responsible for ensuring elections are run fairly and according to our policies and procedures and that candidates meet all requirements and obligations.
These updates will foster a more transparent election process for our members. Speaking firsthand, I can say with confidence that working to improve our profession and advocating for the rights and benefits of our fellow officers by taking a leadership role in PORAC is both an honor and an incredibly rewarding experience. I encourage our members to run for elected office and to bring their own ideas and experiences to the table as we work together to chart a new path forward for our profession.