PORAC Executive Committee Meets in Santa Barbara
Your PORAC Executive Committee met last month in Santa Barbara at the Fess Parker resort and spa, in conjunction with our Training Symposium. The members present discussed many aspects of PORAC, including our lobbying trip last month in Washington, D.C.
This year was the largest Symposium ever attended by PORAC members. There were over 227 members registered, and many others who registered at the door to make sure they didn’t miss this very important training by PORAC. Also in attendance were many representatives of the PORAC Executive Committee and staff. PORAC Training and Labor Consultant Claude Alber did a great job of putting together the best speakers available, covering the most up-to-date information for all of you. Thank you to all of the instructors for assisting PORAC in making this year’s Symposium one of the best ever.
Amy Brown opened our Symposium, which primarily included speakers who are well-versed on the continuing efforts of defending our pension benefits. Throughout the day there were many discussions of what to expect in the year ahead, and how to fight back the pension initiatives we all know will be coming our way in 2016.
More than ever, we as labor leaders need to be on the forefront of any pension initiative we may be facing in the very near future. PORAC is leading that effort for public safety. Although PORAC has been sequestering those funds in our Pension Reform Account, many organizations have chosen to opt out. I would urge each of you who chose to opt out of our bylaw change from Conference last year to reconsider. We need to be financially prepared to fight the fight we now know is around the corner.
California Peace Officers’ Memorial Ceremony
This year during our California Peace Officers’ Memorial Ceremony, PORAC will have the honor of representing the California Peace Officers’ Memorial Foundation as the facilitator for the family of Ventura County Sheriff’s Deputy Eugene Kostiuchenko, who made the ultimate sacrifice on October 28, 2014. Having this responsibility has given me a much broader perspective on our fallen heroes. I have met with members of the Ventura Sheriff’s Department, as well as Sheriff Geoff Dean and many representatives from Ventura DSA. It has also been my honor to work closely with Eugene’s surviving spouse, Maura Kelley, coordinating events of the ceremony. Each of the members I spoke with from Ventura could not say enough good things about Eugene and how he was fulfilling a dream of being a peace officer in America.
In May, memorial ceremonies are held throughout the nation to honor the brave peace officers who have laid down their lives in sacrifice for the safety and protection of the citizens they are sworn to protect. The general public may not give these ceremonies the same consideration that each of us does. They may not be fully aware of the risks that peace officers face on the job each and every day. Over the last 10 years, the U.S. has averaged one peace officer killed every 53 hours. That averages out to 163 killed in the line of duty per year. There has been a 75% increase in officers killed by criminals since 2008. The first recorded killing of a peace officer was in 1792. Since then, there have been more than 19,700 peace officers killed in the line of duty. Their names are engraved on the National Memorial in Washington, D.C.
We know that these are not just names. They include mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, many other relatives, friends, partners and co-workers. These were the peace officers our law enforcement family and all citizens could count on, and they gave their lives for our sakes. Nobody had to ask them to do it — they just did. It comes with the responsibility, duty and honor of wearing the badge. As long as this profession asks you to wear a bulletproof vest, strap on a gun and deliberately put yourself in harm’s way to protect others, there will be peace officers killed in the line of duty. This is the price we may be asked to pay so the citizens of California and throughout the country will have a safer place to live, work and raise their families. And yes, we will even put ourselves in harm’s way to protect the politicians, reporters and citizens who demand to eliminate our pensions!
The last line of the poem engraved on the California Memorial reads, “I ask for all here from the past, dear God, let my name be the last.” As long as men and women pin on the badge, wear the uniform and take the oath of office to protect the citizens of California, names will continue to be added to the Memorial.
May is also the month when we remember those who have given their lives to preserve the freedom and safety of our nation. Memorial Day is when we honor the veterans of military service who laid down their lives in times of war for their country and our freedom. Remember, freedom is not free; it comes with a heavy price of personal sacrifice. Please keep all members of our U.S. military, our fallen peace officers and their families in your thoughts and prayers during this Memorial Day and throughout the year.