I would like to begin by thanking you for your membership. I know that we say it often, but certainly not enough. You, your association and what you stand for are the reasons why PORAC is the largest statewide organization in the United States. And without your support and willingness to be affiliated with PORAC, neither President Durant nor I would be able to accomplish what we do in Sacramento. We recognize the weight of what this means, and the level of trust that you have in us.
For over 60 years, PORAC has been the most respected voice and largest collection of interests for peace officers in California. We are resolute and dedicated in protecting you and what you are trying to build for your family in the face of an increasingly challenging job, which continues to grow more dangerous. PORAC is focused on building solidarity by bringing together police officers, sheriff’s deputies, correctional officers, probation officers and public safety personnel, refining them into a common voice of advocacy on your behalf. This core commitment to bring and keep people together serves as the foundation of what PORAC represents.
Quite often, though, this core commitment is overlooked, despite being one of the key benefits of membership. But it does raise the question: What do you get from being a member of PORAC? This has been a hot topic of discussion among the Board of Directors and at chapter meetings in recent months as we learned of the impending departure of the DSA of San Diego County and wondered, “Why?” In light of this, I thought it timely to refresh your understanding of the benefits of PORAC membership.
As I mentioned, I think that the most valuable benefit of PORAC membership is our ability to mobilize and interact with you, our members. The strength of PORAC comes from you and the local association! PORAC’s leadership, Board of Directors and representatives cannot effectively respond to and protect what is important to you unless we know what that is. The best place for us to hear that input is at your chapter’s meetings each month, which is why we always so strongly encourage your participation. All our members are welcome and encouraged to attend, since that exchange of information is vital to our success in taking you where you expect us to go.
PORAC’s statewide advocacy program is also, unquestionably, the most effective peace officer lobby in the state. Representing the voice of nearly two-thirds of California’s peace officers and public safety members carries a weight and an ability to influence legislation and politics in a manner that no one else here can claim. While our competitors try to offer comparable legal defense benefits and insurance products, none offers the quality of representation that PORAC provides. Moving legislation, rather than just merely showing up and supporting it, is what sets us apart and demonstrates the value of membership in our organization.
PORAC’s training and education programs not only introduce new association representatives to what they need to know and understand about running their organization, but also guide them on how to take their POA or DSA further ahead. Solid courses in representing their own in Internal Affairs, as well as how to collectively bargain, are just two of the many topics we offer our membership. Taught by subject-matter experts who have a law enforcement association background and are active practitioners, our training is constantly evolving to address the current trends in negotiations and state law. In addition to our monthly training courses, PORAC’s Annual Conference and Training Symposium always provide the most current insight into the challenges on the horizon.
Finally, having full-time active peace officers as PORAC’s main representatives and a staff of individuals dedicated to your needs and benefits is why our organization has the resources to succeed and meet your expectations. We don’t operate out of a PO box, and we are certainly proud of the fact that — as you’ll see in this issue of the magazine — PORAC is able to sustain meaningful scholarship awards for our members’ dependents throughout the entire state each year.
This month, I am also very excited to point out that many of the benefits I’ve just discussed are now further detailed at the new www.porac.org, which was just relaunched at the end of June with a much different look and feel than earlier versions. While I know this will take a little getting used to, I am confident that you will find it helpful and useful as you and your local representatives try to improve your benefits and working conditions. I would be remiss if I did not publicly recognize the work of Heather Hewitt and the 911MEDIA Web team, as well as PORAC’s IT consultant Peter Henreid, all of whom invested countless hours into making this project a success.
If there was ever a time when it could not be any more important to stick together, it is now. Rallying behind the demonstrated influence and established reputation of PORAC provides us all with the very best chance at mounting a defense on your behalf, and even more importantly, on behalf of our line of work. This is the dawn of the war against the law enforcement profession in this country, and no association should choose to stand alone. Take care and stay safe!