As many of us had been speculating and several have asked about, we recently learned that Chuck Reed and Carl DeMaio will not be moving forward in 2016 with their ballot initiatives attacking public employees and our retirement benefits. Instead, they have chosen to look ahead two years for an extended period of time to gather the signatures required to qualify their initiatives for the 2018 general election. PORAC, along with our labor partners in Californians for Retirement Security and others, will be monitoring their position and keeping all of our members informed of any changes in their strategy.
Although this is great news, these pension attacks will continue. According to their press release, “After conversations with members of their coalition and key donors, we have decided to re-file at least one of our pension reform measures later this year for the November 2018 ballot. By then we will know the outcome of a key court case that might limit the public employee unions’ capacity to spend ‘unlimited’ resources against pension reform.” We all need to keep this on the forefront of our radar. As we all know, this will not be the last of either of these villains. PORAC will be meeting with CRS in the coming weeks to determine our strategy moving forward. Once we gather the information, we will get it out to all of you.
Thankfully, the PORAC membership had the foresight at our Conference of Members to sequester funds to fight these and all pension issues. We need to remain vigilant, knowing we will be continuing this battle in the coming years.
Like all of you, as a lifetime law enforcement officer, I am proud of a career dedicated to keeping my community safe, and I’m proud of my fellow officers for their efforts to do the same. Every time we swear in a new class of police academy graduates, our best and brightest promise to uphold an oath to protect and serve our neighbors and keep them safe. They know that by making that promise, they must be willing to risk everything, every day. They must react fearlessly and use every effort to protect those in danger. They must find balance and judgment under the toughest conditions. We got into this business because we care about people. We want a healthy next generation assuming control of California. While we will keep up our day-to-day efforts, we must also define the root causes of the cycle of violence that results in entire communities plagued by crime.
The blowback from high-profile incidents over the last 18 months has shifted the entire dialogue in our country. The battle cries of this new reform movement, a movement that we recognize is not without some causes, run the risk of erasing decades of trust built between officers and those we serve.
On December 2 of last year, a now-viral video showed San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Detective Jorge Lozano reassuring witnesses of the mass shooting unfolding before their eyes, “I’ll take a bullet before you do, that’s for damn sure.” I have no doubt that you have all had similar moments and considered standing in harm’s way to be part of the job. The courage displayed every day by our men and women is a standard we live by. Obviously, the conditions do not warrant perfection, and mistakes have been made that must be addressed and for which we must adjust, but the cop on the beat is the difference between safety and loss.
This year in the Capitol, the issues we are going to face will be similar to last year’s: body cameras, police oversight, racial profiling, use of force, procedural justice, the “militarization” of law enforcement…. The list is as long as it is varied. While we want to address the frustrations of the public, we also know that these decisions cannot be made without thoughtful discussion of the real-world implications of each potential policy change.
PORAC continues to work with Attorney General Kamala Harris to collect the data necessary to create a realistic picture of what is happening in our communities. While the dialogue of hysteria perpetuates distrust, we are working diligently behind the scenes with the Legislature to gather the facts and see where improvements can be made.
Attention must be paid to those struggling with mental health issues. Our health care system needs to function properly, so that we keep the mentally ill from becoming a public safety hazard. We are in training and are committed to those who are desperate.
Much work is left to be done. We have no doubt that 2016 will be another challenging year for our law enforcement family. PORAC is committed to working on your behalf, and we will do everything we can to create a positive dialogue focused on facts — not on rhetoric or an unconstrained focus on events that do not reflect the daily efforts of the men and women in the law enforcement community.