Marcelo Blanco PORAC Treasurer
Legislators Shrouded in the Veil of Transparency?
The California Peace Officers’ Memorial Ceremonies were fresh in my mind as I wrote this month’s article. Allow me share with you a few of my thoughts from this event. As always, it is a somber occasion filled with the grief and sorrow of the family members, friends and colleagues over the passing of fellow law enforcement officers throughout the state. This year’s ceremonies hit closer to home with the passing of colleague Bryce Hanes from the San Bernardino Police Department. Consequently, the event permits time to reflect on the inherent dangers of our chosen profession. Regardless of how long you have been a peace officer and how invincible you believe yourself to be, the ceremony makes you stop and think about your own limitations.
As the dignitaries were speaking, I began reflecting on those officers’ last thoughts and interactions with their family 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 spouse, children or friends what each of them meant in developing the person they were? Do we take the time to do that today? Therefore, 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 and ill-driven transparency legislation was properly evaluated prior to moving forward to the various legislative visits. As everyone is well aware, PORAC is opposed to the supposed law enforcement transparency legislation being proposed by Bay Area Senator Mark Leno. Listed below is more information to help you in preparing letters to Senator Leno expressing opposition to his misguided and special-interest-supported legislation.
- SB 1286 will deter victims of police misconduct from filing complaints. Forcing complainants into the public spotlight will discourage legitimate reports of police misconduct because this bill fails to adequately safeguard the privacy rights of victims.
- SB 1286 is a gift to criminals. Criminals will target hardworking, ethical police officers by bombarding local police departments with false, baseless accusations. This will neutralize effective policing.
- PORAC fully supports transparency and accountability. PORAC always collaborates to develop sensible legislation that enhances public safety, transparency and accountability. Just recently, PORAC promoted the use of body-worn cameras, while urging the Legislature to provide better protections for the privacy rights of Californians whose images were captured or recorded. PORAC proudly participates in the California Attorney General’s new coalition, the 21st Century Policing Working Group, where proposals for better training and community relations have been recommended. PORAC is disappointed that Senator Leno submitted this misguided and overreaching legislation without obtaining any input from PORAC or any other organization representing rank-and-file law enforcement.
- SB 1286 serves the interests of the media over the community. Corporate media giants profit from the publication of salacious accusations regardless of their truth. Does anyone really believe that honest law enforcement officers doing their job during profoundly difficult times should have their private lives exposed by modern media?
Local politicians never cease to amaze me. These folks get elected to office and quickly begin using the taxpayers’ and special interests’ money for their pet projects. Senator Leno is jumping on the bandwagon of anti-law-enforcement sentiment to help his special-interest friends in the print media. We are all sadly aware from past experience that newspapers will run with, and at times exaggerate, stories about potential police misconduct for financial gain. However, once those officers are exonerated of the allegations, the media will not cover that story unless there is further financial gain in doing so. The media will not run a follow-up story with the accurate information or admit they were quick to judge, yet they expect the polar opposite from us by calling us out when we make split-second decisions and to ensure that we have the complete and accurate story before taking any action.
Please remember to keep yourself, your family and your friends informed. PORAC continues to work diligently to maintain the security of your privacy while balancing the public’s need for transparency, as well as your political voice. It is imperative that you do your part by attending your local chapter meetings and keeping yourself abreast of the ever-changing situation in our state. Information that affects us all is constantly flowing from PORAC and other sources. Your chapter meetings are the dissemination points for this information and your opportunity to get clarification on those issues. See you at your next chapter meeting.
Be safe and have fun.