Vice President’s Message

Damon Kurtz
PORAC Vice President

With the completion of our 67th Annual Conference of Members, we enter the holidays. This gives us time to reflect on this past year and gear up for the challenges 2020 may hold. For me, I look back on this past year as a learning experience. Even though I have been heavily involved in PORAC as an association president and as IBT chairman, you never really know what to expect from a position until you are doing the job. The year was not absent of its challenges — none more prevalent than the legislative fight overuse of force. This was in addition to all the day-to-day issues that arise from operating an organization such as PORAC. With over 70,000 miles traveled this past year, it was truly challenging to be everywhere we are needed — most of all, home.

I spoke at Conference about the increased need for officer wellness and PORAC’s desire to provide membership with resources in this area. As I spend time with my family during the holidays, I try to focus on them but cannot help being preoccupied. I am troubled by the growing crisis in our first responder community with stress-related illness and suicide.

Peer support and wellness programs are a must in this environment. It’s not hard to see why there is such a need, with the constant bombardment of negativity thrown at law enforcement these days. Whether it’s on social media or in the mainstream media, there seems to be a strategy of character assassination of our profession. To make matters worse, many of our elected officials see this as an opportunity to attack us as well. It has encouraged an environment void of respect for law enforcement and, in some cases, has led to physical assaults on our officers. Is it any wonder that there is a need for wellness programs? PORAC has started to focus in this area with POWER Project training, which emphasizes wellness and resiliency. These classes are free and will be held in various areas throughout the state. Go to PORAC.org/training/porac-power-project/ for more info. Whether it is through training, the Fund a Hero program or connecting the membership with resources, PORAC will be committed to making an impact in this area.

President Marvel and Vice President Kurtz with Mountain View Police Department Deputy Chief Chris Hsiung

Politically, President Marvel and I will remain vigilant at the state Capitol with our lobbyist, Randy Perry. We know there will be bad legislation coming, and we will be prepared to do what we can to stop it. We will continue to push legislation to benefit the membership and be a strong voice for law enforcement. We need you and your associations to help us in this endeavor. Be engaged at the local level and force a dialogue with your elected officials.
Be active in your community and push forward a positive message.

The media may not want to focus on positive stories of our members doing good in the community, but we can. Use your social media to push back on the negativity and tag #porac so we can help. We know there is still tremendous support for us in the community, but they are the “silent majority.” We need to motivate them to be more vocal, especially at the ballot box. We can be effective in pushing back on this false narrative if we work together.

I would like to end this article with a thank-you to the membership. Thank you for your continued support for PORAC and for me personally. Thank you for your hard work and commitment to the profession and the communities you serve. I hope you all have a blessed Christmas with your families, and as always — stay safe out there!