Vice President’s Message

Damon Kurtz

PORAC Vice President

This year has been one of the busiest in PORAC’s history when it comes to bills in the California Legislature. We began the year with over 40 bills with an “active oppose” designation, meaning we actively engage on the bill to seek amendments or have the bill terminate before becoming law. With the legislative session at the halfway mark, we have successfully cut more than half of those bills from our active oppose list. This is a testament to the hard work put in by our advocates, Randy Perry and Aaron Read, along with a strong coalition of law enforcement organizations. Much of our advocacy effort relies on relationships and our ability to communicate with our elected officials regarding pending legislation. Every year, hundreds of bills are introduced that may have good intentions but would have negative consequences because they were not properly vetted. Of course, there are also many bills that are designed to have those intended consequences.

One of those bills that remain a primary focus for PORAC is SB 2, which makes changes to the Bane Act and creates a licensure program for law enforcement.   Unfortunately, SB 2 is less about a legitimate licensure program and more about a punitive attack on law enforcement for real or perceived wrongdoings. President Marvel and I continue to meet with our elected representatives and advocate for a fair and objective licensure program for law enforcement. It is our goal to see the necessary amendments to SB 2 and provide a licensure program that California deserves.  

So much of the current “cancel culture” we see in our society today unfortunately also permeates our government. There is a not-so-subtle agenda to abolish law enforcement, and we are already seeing the negative effects in crime rates across the country. The answer is not defunding or abolishing law enforcement; rather, there needs to be a true investment in law enforcement. For too long, law enforcement has been a political issue when it comes to budgetary concerns. Funding is often leveraged for other projects or programs in local budgets. The mantra of “Do more with less” has taken its toll on the profession, and our relationships with the community have suffered. I hear our leaders speak of community-based policing but rarely see a true commitment to funding this type of program. Community-based policing takes people, not programs or special units. This doesn’t mean funding only for law enforcement officers. There needs to be a commitment to all services surrounding public safety, from the community services officer and the mental health professionals to the law enforcement and fire services. The burden cannot be put on the law enforcement profession alone; it will take a collaboration of services if we truly want a community-based approach to public safety. Maybe that’s what it should be, community-based public safety, because law enforcement cannot handle the burdens of society on our own.

Unfortunately, there seems to be a popular belief that law enforcement reform must come through punitive legislation rather than looking for solutions on how to provide better public safety services. This is why I harp on being engaged with our elected leaders at the local, state and federal levels. We must be a voice of reason to those who legislate, and not let the actions of a few be the only representations of law enforcement. Law enforcement is a noble profession full of honorable and courageous people, and these are the voices our leaders need to hear. Ultimately, I am an optimist and believe we will be successful in bringing a reasonable voice to the table for a healthy change in how we provide law enforcement to our communities.

As always, stay safe and healthy out there!