Vice President’s Message

Damon Kurtz
PORAC Vice President

The 2020 legislative session ended on August 31 with a good amount of drama. For PORAC and all of law enforcement, we were focused on roughly 25 bills in the Assembly and Senate that were aimed at police reform. Like many bills focused on law enforcement, they were put together haphazardly and without input from industry experts. With the political climate demonizing law enforcement, many of these bills would have had a negative impact, not just on our profession but also on the communities we serve. Because of the issues surrounding COVID, the legislative process was extremely difficult, as it was much harder to meet and hopefully educate our elected officials on the ramifications of some of the bills being introduced. Ultimately, it came down to the last few hours of this session, but the majority of the bills we opposed did not pass out of the Legislature. This was in large part due to the hard work done by Randy Perry and our advocates at Aaron Read & Associates. Thanks to them and a strong law enforcement coalition of groups outside of PORAC, we were able to make it through this session without the passage of bills like SB 731, which would have been devastating to the law enforcement profession. SB 731 would have created an unfair decertification of POST certificates and removed qualified immunity.

Unfortunately, the 2021 legislative session is already shaping up to be every bit as challenging as years past. We will be prepared to deal with all these bills again, as many will most likely be reintroduced. New challenges are coming from places where we traditionally had political allies. Everyone should be aware by now of the Los Angeles County district attorney election. George Gascón, the former DA of San Francisco, who has demonized law enforcement and worked to weaken the criminal justice system here in California, is seeking to unseat incumbent Jackie Lacey. If successful, he will use the L.A. District Attorney’s Office to influence legislation and elections of DAs across the state. As proof of this agenda, the progressive DAs have formed their own group outside of their DA peers to lobby in Sacramento for extreme bills in hopes of giving these bills the legitimacy of “law enforcement” support. Maintaining strong advocacy remains a primary focus for PORAC.

PORAC’s effectiveness comes from our 930-plus associations and our 77,000-plus members. It gives us a level of confidence that when we put out a call for assistance from our members, you always come through. As we head into the 2021 legislative session, I urge you to maintain close communications with your elected officials in your area. The individual relationships you build at home help our united voice in Sacramento and in Washington, D.C. The legislative efforts on police reform in most cases aren’t a bad thing in concept; it’s the details of that reform where we cannot agree. I often say that reform is not a new concept to law enforcement, and we do not resist it. We have always been in reform, always looking for better outcomes for both the officer and the public. Although the voices of those who disparage law enforcement are loud, there are many more voices that support us. I am confident that the voices of support will soon drown out the negative rhetoric. Law enforcement is a noble profession, and I am proud to represent you.

As restrictions on COVID ease and with the possibility of a vaccine in the near future, we will be meeting in person again. I hope to see you all soon, whether it is at a chapter meeting, Symposium or Annual Conference. Although this year’s Conference has been canceled, we will still be meeting as a full Board in November. We still want to hear from you. President Marvel and I are always looking to improve on how PORAC serves its members. Thank you for your service, and stay safe out there!