PORAC Vice President
March started like any other month for us at PORAC. Our staff was focused on their normal duties, but mostly on Symposium, which was approaching fast. It’s important to us at PORAC to provide our members with a meaningful experience, whether it’s at a training class or a larger event like Symposium or Conference. This year’s Symposium would have culminated in our first golf tournament, the POREF Open, benefiting the Peace Officers Relief & Education Fund.
While at PORAC it was business as usual, President Marvel and I traveled to Washington, D.C., for our annual fly-in with the Executive Committee, ready to take our advocacy efforts to the nation’s capital. We began our trip with an Executive Committee meeting to conduct normal PORAC business such as approving membership applications, and to prepare for our meetings with our congressional and Senate leaders. At that point, on Tuesday, March 10, the coronavirus (COVID-19) was more of a white noise in the background. Although everyone was aware of the virus, there was not a noticeable worry felt by any of us in the room.
By the end of our trip, there was talk of shutting down the Capitol, and many of the elected officials were no longer meeting in person. My flight home on Friday the 13th was filled with people wearing latex gloves and protective masks, a stark change from the trip out on Monday. And as I write this article, we have a statewide order to “shelter in place” and people are desperately hoarding toilet paper for some reason. PORAC has had to cancel Symposium, the POREF Open and training events. To say it’s been a surreal month would be putting it mildly.
Although we are a nation in crisis mode, at PORAC we are still focused on representing our members. We know that it’s our first responders who will be leading us through this difficult time. Our elected officials and others will steal the spotlight, but it will be you who will provide a calming presence in our communities — a familiar face there to say, “Everything is going to be OK.” At the end of the day, our first responders will always answer the call. That’s why at PORAC we are busy communicating with the Governor’s Office and at the federal level for the protection of our members. We are requesting additional resources for agencies to provide personal protective equipment to our law enforcement and firefighters. We are pushing for additional presumptions for workers’ compensation as it relates to the coronavirus so that our members are covered if they contract it. Our members will be at a higher risk, and that needs to be recognized.
When the dust settles and a sense of normalcy resumes, we will continue to provide our usual services. Our training will resume and, although the 2020 Symposium is lost, we can focus on our upcoming annual Conference of Members in November at Disneyland. When we can meet again, I hope to see you at one of our events.
As always, if there is a way PORAC can assist you or your association, don’t hesitate to reach out to me or to President Marvel. Thank you for your service, and stay safe out there!