Vice President’s Message

Damon Kurtz

PORAC Vice President

This spring marks a full year of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was in March of last year that the PORAC Executive Committee was in Washington, D.C., meeting with our legislators when the Capitol and country shut down. At the time, I remember thinking this was just a bad flu. Little did we know how dangerous the virus would be. As law enforcement officers, we are trained to handle so many different situations. We study tactics and practice new techniques on how to handle any situation. We engage in countless mental scenarios of critical incidents so that if and when we are called to face such an event, we are prepared. Never in my wildest dreams did I think our most deadly foe would be a virus. How does one prepare for a virus? Especially one that is so random in how it will affect us as individuals.

I have always had respect for my fellow officers and the law enforcement profession. A desire to make things better drove me to get involved in the Association. It was always a source of motivation for me to help our officers and their families in crisis. With the losses of officers and loved ones from COVID experienced in our profession, I have never felt so helpless when it comes to fighting for our officers.

Whether I was representing the Fresno POA or now at PORAC, there is usually a clear path to provide protection for our officers. Normally, this strategy involved fighting for a benefit, legislation/policy, equipment or training. We had a plan to make sure our officers were prepared and protected in some way. For PORAC, that strategy involved workers’ compensation presumptions and vaccinations of first responders. Now that the vaccinations are underway, it is my hope that the virus will subside, and the dangers of law enforcement will not include an invisible threat of COVID-19.

This pandemic has recently hit home for me here in my own agency. As I write this article, I was just notified that Fresno P.D. has lost a second officer to this virus.  Sergeant Paul Brown of Fresno P.D. was one of my sergeants I worked for on midnights in patrol. He was a good leader full of compassion and a great sense of humor. He will truly be missed by so many, just as those you have lost in your agencies will be missed. Too many officers and family members have been taken from us before their time.

This pandemic has highlighted more than ever the need for peer support programs.  Our associations were formed to help the widows and orphans of our officers. So many have been affected by this virus, and it’s incumbent on us to make sure we focus on the families of our officers in need. Whether it’s through direct assistance of emotional support or using fundraising efforts like PORAC’s Fund a Hero program, we as association leaders can make a difference.

This year, PORAC will be introducing a peer support class in conjunction with the line-of-duty death class. The training will be specifically designed to help develop and maintain a peer support program. Whether you are in a large association or a small one, there are programs to fit your needs.