Brent J. Meyer
PORAC Vice President
Ready to Defend Our Rights and Benefits
There’s no way to sugarcoat the modern reality faced by law enforcement professionals: We are under attack. It’s not just hardcore criminals and sociopaths who are relentless in their assault on and disregard for public safety officers. It’s also the media, some elected officials and, sadly, a growing chorus of the uninformed public. PORAC saw this coming, and we’re doing something about it. We’re not waiting for this to blow over. We’re not hoping the situation will somehow magically improve itself. We are continuing, though, to proactively make sure that law enforcement maintains a powerful presence when major political and economic policy decisions are made in Sacramento. We’re making absolutely sure that your voice is heard.
In my four years as PORAC’s Vice President, the attacks on law enforcement have become more pervasive than at any time in the last half-century. Society has become more fractured and tribalistic, with law enforcement caught squarely in the middle. To make sure that elected officials, policymakers, community thought leaders and the media understand our duties, limitations and expectations, we’ve taken steps to aggressively deepen our footprint in Washington and Sacramento. I’m extremely proud of PORAC’s approach, which has expanded the platform onto which our collective voice is being heard, especially at the federal level.
From the U.S. Capitol to Sacramento, we began to widen our representative base and strengthen our voice in 2013, long before the media portrayal of incidents in Ferguson, Baltimore, Baton Rouge or Tulsa fostered an atmosphere in which law enforcement officers are instantly placed under suspicion and presumed guilty, long before any facts are examined. We will always be an easy target, because when people need help, they call us. We are the first responders, no matter the situation. However, our critics want it both ways. They expect us to protect them, remove the threats to their lives and maintain the peace, yet they want us to keep order in a prescient and gentle fashion, even if it means sacrificing ourselves along the way.
A big part of our work is making sure that state and national authorities understand how we work, how we train and how we make decisions. There is no doubt that PORAC is the working cop’s best defense in ensuring that people know your side of the story. I’ve learned that when civilians — including elected officials and their staffs — understand the logic behind our actions, they are far more likely to comprehend and support the outcomes. We are not always perfect, but even with our imperfections, not a day goes by that law enforcement professionals aren’t risking their lives on behalf of their communities. We recognize the risks, but we never want anyone to take them for granted. That’s why I’m quite proud of our efforts to improve our communications, image and messaging over the past several years. These projects didn’t happen overnight, but with our website redesigns and improved social media, I think we are on the right track.
It’s not wise to assume the public and elected officials will realize how and why we work so hard. We must continually remind them, and then consistently reinforce our message with facts and stories that illustrate the importance of what this profession does across California daily. Accordingly, we have significantly improved the work we’ve done, both internally and externally, on media outreach. While this has grown exponentially from where we were, we must continue to travel every avenue of opportunity to keep the public and those who support us informed about what really goes on in their communities.
These efforts have paid off, reflected by the dividends that we continue to see: PORAC recently surpassed 70,000 members, making us by far the nation’s largest statewide organization representing law enforcement professionals. That’s an increase of over 4,000 members and approximately 100 new associations in the past four years — an accomplishment that validates the support and trust granted us by every individual member. I’m proud of those numbers and the work that was put in to get there. Our growth amplifies the essence of what PORAC is all about — the importance of unity and advocacy, and our ability to bring peace officers together from an incredibly diverse array of agencies from across California.
But our work is not done; in fact, far from it. Next year, we will likely face another attempt at rolling back pensions and retirement benefits, probably in the guise of a “reform” initiative presented to voters. A strong organization with experienced leadership will be needed to lead the campaign against draconian cuts directed at your retirement security. With our expertise in Sacramento, PORAC will undoubtedly be at the forefront, fighting to protect the future that every peace officer was promised and counts on.
This will be the biggest fight of 2018, and I look forward to leading the organization as we defend the rights and benefits of PORAC members and their families. Until then, thank you for your membership, have fun and stay safe!