Vice President’s Message

Damon Kurtz
PORAC Vice President

As association leaders, we often focus our efforts on contract negotiations and issues related to them, such as pay and benefits, and that’s for good reason. Our members elect us to represent them and to negotiate on their behalf for the best possible pay and benefits. The demands put upon us can often feel unobtainable, and the pressure we impose on ourselves to provide successful contracts can take its toll. The pressures we feel are put into perspective every year when we honor our fallen officers during the California Peace Officers’ Memorial Ceremony.

As we stand at attention and salute the loved ones of the fallen officers, it puts things in perspective and reminds me of the real reason why our associations exist. The vast majority of associations were created to be widows and orphans organizations to support the families of our fallen officers. These memorial ceremonies are a somber reminder of the dangerous profession in which we were all called to serve. It is difficult to control our emotions. We not only feel for the fallen officers and their families, but we empathize with them as well, seeing the faces of our own families as we pay tribute to the fallen and their survivors. There is an often-repeated saying, “The officer carries the badge, but the family carries the weight.”

It’s a sad reality for the law enforcement profession today that there has been a paradigm shift in how we are portrayed by the mainstream media and by our elected officials. There is a false narrative that law enforcement is a rogue element of government with an epidemic of use-of-force incidents. For those of us in the profession, we know that we are among the most scrutinized professions in the world. Very few professions operate under the same amount of oversight as law enforcement. However, officers do not shy away from this scrutiny or oversight. The only caveat is we welcome that scrutiny so long as we are not being measured by an impossible standard. During this year’s CPOMF Ceremony, Newman Police Chief Randy Richardson referenced the state legislators when he said, “California’s ‘outrageous’ policies are making officers’ jobs more difficult.” He believes it will cost more lives like Corporal Ronil Singh. I wholeheartedly agree with him.

PORAC has brought forward a statewide effort to battle such policies and legislation. Although many of our individual associations have a strong voice in their respective areas of the state, it’s our collective, unified voice that allows us to be heard loud and clear by lawmakers. For me, I truly appreciate the ability to draw on the knowledge and experience our member associations bring to the table. The challenge with any collective is managing our individual goals from that of the group. Many times, as association leaders, we want to highlight the importance of our individual organizations. The reality is, every one of our associations is important to their respective members and we should represent them with pride. As a federation of individual associations, we should also take equal pride in our collective voice — “United we stand, divided we fall.”

It is my and President Marvel’s goal to make sure PORAC is effective in its advocacy and that our member associations are provided the benefits they need to succeed. We will continue to provide the best training possible to assist our members in leading their associations. This year, we are developing training focused on officer wellness, something that is often overlooked. Later this year, we will unveil a PORAC crowdfunding mechanism similar to GoFundMe and other online fundraising programs. PORAC will provide a way to vet charitable causes and allow for the use of PORAC’s statewide presence to boost individual associations in their efforts to assist officers in need. It is our hope that providing the best quality benefits and training will allow the members and their associations to focus on what’s most important — the members themselves and their families.

As always, if you have questions or concerns, please feel free to contact President Marvel or me. Thank you and stay safe out there.