The California Peace Officers’ Memorial Ceremonies were fresh in my mind as I wrote this month’s article. Allow me to share with you a few of my thoughts from this year’s event. As always, it is a somber occasion filled with the grief and sorrow of family members, friends and colleagues over the passing of peace officers throughout the state. Yet the event permits time to reflect on the inherent dangers of our chosen profession. Regardless of how long we have been peace officers and how invincible we believe ourselves to be, the ceremony makes us all stop to think about our own limitations.
As the dignitaries were speaking, I began reflecting on the fallen officers’ last thoughts and interactions with their families and friends. Did they have the time to share how they felt about their loved ones? Did they have the opportunity to share with their spouses, children or friends what each meant in developing them into the people they were? Do we take the time to do that today? I think it is important that we express how we feel to our loved ones as often as possible.
The following day, it was back to work. We were in the Capitol on our Legislative Day visits, and we quickly noticed a change in attitude over the previous day. Our heroic deeds were beginning to fade, and now we were just another lobbying group. Never mind that our focus was to ensure that knee-jerk body-worn camera legislation was properly evaluated prior to moving forward from the various committees. As everyone is well aware, PORAC supports the responsible use and implementation of body-worn cameras.
On another note, there is currently a major movement in California geared to affect us as law enforcement professionals. That movement is more pension reform from Chuck Reed and his buddies. Mr. Reed is very busy trying to get financial support for his statewide pension reform initiative for 2016. He encountered a minor setback this year, but is not wasting any time to place his initiative back on track.
Local politicians never cease to amaze me. These folks get elected into office and quickly begin using the taxpayers’ money for their pet projects, just like Mayor Reed, who has so far cost the City of San Jose in excess of $100 million with his harebrained idea. The City of San Jose’s Police Department has been decimated by Reed’s actions. They are down well over 200 officers, and they are having an immensely difficult time trying to recruit. One of the areas that has not been accounted for is the amount of experience lost by that agency because of Reed’s ideology. The residents of San Jose should be holding Mr. Reed responsible for putting their safety in jeopardy. Mr. Reed and the like needlessly spend millions of their constituents’ dollars, which they originally pledged to protect, coming up with initiatives that will eventually be found to be unconstitutional. These folks don’t get, or would rather ignore, that we had pension reform: It is called PEPRA (Public Employees’ Pension Reform Act). It’s incumbent on all of us to keep reminding our local politicians of PEPRA; anything else is just too costly for anyone to bear.
This is the time to keep yourself, your family and friends informed. PORAC continues to work diligently to maintain the security of your pension and benefits, as well as your political voice. It is imperative you do your part by attending your local chapter meetings and keeping yourself abreast of the ever-changing situation in our state. Information is constantly flowing from PORAC and other sources that affects us all. Your chapter meetings are the dissemination points for that information and your opportunity to get clarification on those issues. See you at your next chapter meeting.
Be safe and have fun.