Vice President’s Message

Damon Kurtz

PORAC Vice President

With the 2021 state legislative session over, we get to regroup and evaluate the outcome of another difficult year here in California. Each year, there seem to be more bills focused on law enforcement reform. Unfortunately, even bills introduced by legislators with good intentions can have negative impacts without input from law enforcement professionals. Fortunately, we have a strong coalition of law enforcement leaders and advocates who work tirelessly to make sure our concerns are addressed. This year there were several bills that required extra effort — none more than SB 2, introduced by Senator Bradford. The bill was introduced to create a license for law enforcement officers to work in the state of California. California is one of four states without a licensing program for law enforcement, so it made sense that we should have a similar program. However, SB 2 was a deeply flawed bill that would have created a completely biased process of licensing. After countless hours of negotiations and amendments, SB 2 passed through the Legislature and is headed to the governor’s desk. Although the bill was amended and is significantly better than when it was first presented, PORAC remains opposed, as it is still a biased approach to licensing. There seems to be a focus on being punitive when introducing legislation, rather than truly trying to make things better.

At the federal level, law enforcement reform seems to have lost much of its momentum. With the rise in violent crime across the nation, many elected officials have turned their focus to other issues, as the midterm elections are approaching quickly. Although law enforcement reform has slowed a bit, we remain focused on ensuring our interests are addressed. Although we do not support many of the law enforcement reforms being introduced by Congress, we do support a national standard on training standards and policies. All too often, we see incidents in other states that cause knee-jerk reactions here in California to address an issue that has already been addressed by California law enforcement. A national minimum standard of training and policies would help avoid many of the issues we have had to deal with recently.

Now that the California legislators are in recess, it allows us to turn our focus to more member-specific issues, like trainings and the Conference of Members. When we meet in Monterey for Conference this November, it will be the first large gathering of our membership since the 2019 Conference in Palm Springs. It’s crazy to think it’s been two years since we have been able to bring our membership together. President Marvel and I travel around the state often and attend chapter meetings to meet with our membership, but nothing can replicate the environment at the annual Conference. I’ve said this many times: Conference in November is the one time of year where you can network with our member associations, panel attorneys and industry experts all in one place. Getting to do this in Monterey just adds to the experience. With the combination of training and social gatherings, it’s our goal to provide a positive experience for all who attend. I hope we get to see you there.

As always, stay safe and healthy out there.