Vice President’s Message

Damon Kurtz
PORAC Vice President

As expected, on the political level 2021 has started much like last year. Within a few days of the start of this year’s legislative session, there were already several bills on proposed law enforcement reform. Despite a lack of experience, it seems everyone is now an expert on law enforcement and has decided they have the best idea on how it should be done.

It’s sad that this concept has now permeated every facet of the media. I’ve grown accustomed to seeing this in the news media, but now it seems to be even in the TV shows our friends and family watch. I used to scoff at most TV shows when they depicted law enforcement, because it was usually too grandiose or completely inaccurate to how the job is done. Now I just get angry because law enforcement is no longer shown as a heroic profession. It is now portrayed as a profession full of immoral and bigoted people who have no regard for the communities they serve. In my 26 years of experience, I know this to be a false depiction; the bad apples are the exception, not the norm. The men and women of law enforcement are some of most caring and compassionate people in any profession. So many go above and beyond what the job requires to help those in need — but you already knew that.

I keep seeing our elected leaders and persons of influence talk about creating an environment of trust between communities and law enforcement, yet their actions and words do the opposite. The truth is that the media and our politicians will stoke these fires and promote the division in our communities as long as it gets votes or viewership.

Although all of this frustrates me and makes me angry, it also motivates me. I know we are better, and I have been put in a position to carry that message to anyone who will listen. The advocacy we do at PORAC is at the state and national level because we have that platform, but I still advocate at the local level when I can. I know I am a broken record on this issue, but it all starts at the local level. As ambassadors of the profession, we must be more proactive in our outreach and involvement at the local levels. Your local POA and DSA are essential in creating the dialogue and trust in our communities. It’s up to us to create and maintain a healthy relationship in our communities. I often see angry posts on social media from members of law enforcement lashing out at those who advocate for law enforcement reform. I would encourage all of us to focus on working with our local associations to bring that message, rather than continuing with the vitriol for all to see.

This year’s legislation is much like last year’s. The main focus seems to be on creating a law enforcement licensing system in which a peace officer’s POST certificate can be revoked for wrongdoing. In concept, this not a bad thing as long as the process is fair and equitable, devoid of political pressures. Unfortunately, since it’s the politicians who create the laws, there are always politics involved. At PORAC, we are hard at work trying to come to resolutions on the bills the Legislature brings forward without negative impacts on the profession. We know this is a tall order, but it’s one we are committed to.

On a more positive note, we are looking ahead to a new year of training and events. We are hard at work putting together a full schedule of new and established classes for the upcoming year. The 2021 Symposium and POREF Open Golf Tournament will be here before you know it (April 15–17). With most of 2020’s events having been canceled, we look forward to seeing everyone again. We expect the trainings and events to sell out, as there is limited space, so do not delay in registering if you plan on attending one. I hope to see you all in person soon. Take care, stay healthy and stay safe out there!