PORAC Vice President
Legislative games are in full swing at the State Capitol once again. What was once a rare occurrence from only a few select legislators has now become the norm. The good news is that PORAC leadership and our advocates are prepared to challenge any bad legislation as it comes forward. One of the biggest challenges we face as law enforcement advocates is that we are morally and ethically bound to speak the truth in our representation of prospective legislation. These same rules do not apply to those who seek to defund and destroy the law enforcement profession. There is no requirement to swear an oath to testify truthfully in any committee at the Legislature and, as we know, the media operates in the realm of fiction in their reporting practices. They would have everyone believe that misconduct is rampant in the law enforcement profession. We all know this to be blatantly false. But even though we are playing by different rules, that does not mean we cannot be effective in changing this narrative.
Politics is a participation sport, and it requires all of us to be engaged to be successful. This does not mean you have to be an association leader to help. It truly starts with each individual officer and their daily interactions. We must be better in our communication with the public. Take the time to educate during our citizen contacts about law enforcement. As associations, we must be better engaged with our elected officials, from the school board to the federal level. I know I’m a broken record on politics, but we need everyone to be more engaged, from new academy graduates to our most seasoned veterans.
I hear way too often from association leaders, “I don’t like politics.” My response is: “Who does?” It is a necessary evil in any profession. It can be tedious and time-consuming, but if we do not cultivate relationships, our message often falls on deaf ears and leads to animosity. These relationships affect everything from your prospective contract negotiations to state and federal legislation. In many cases, I see the focus on our elected officials only during negotiations, and too often our relationships are focused on only those who agree with us on issues. While it’s important to keep those relationships strong, I would argue that more time should be devoted to those we disagree with. What has been lost in society today is the ability to sit down and work through our differences. Many of the issues we are dealing with do not need legislation, just a cooperative approach. As we navigate through the legislation on police reform, we need to remind everyone that we all want the same thing: safer communities and better outcomes in our interactions with the public. Unfortunately, there are those who have perverted legislative reforms into their personal vendettas against law enforcement. There is so much mistrust in how law enforcement is viewed today, and rather than looking for blame, we need to look for ways to create that trust. I harp on relationship-building with your prospective elected leaders because these relationships help us in PORAC’s advocacy efforts. Many of you already do an amazing job in your outreach efforts, and I thank you.
PORAC’s effectiveness comes from our member associations and our individual members. Representing so many in law enforcement, from patrol officers to specialized policing groups, allows us to bring a singular voice to our advocacy efforts. In the coming months, we will once again call upon you to help with those efforts. We may call upon you to attend a virtual meeting with a legislator or rally your friends and family to send letters and emails. Whatever the request, I am confident that we will come together as a team and rise to the challenge. As always, stay safe and healthy out there!