It’s hard not to be discouraged by all the anti-police sentiment perpetuated in the media today. One cannot open up a favorite newspaper, media feed or social media website without a healthy dose of everything that the police in America don’t do right. We have a tough job, with no shortage of scrutiny over how we perform or how we should do it better. And just when it seems like we are nearly overwhelmed by attacks on our pay and benefits, an entirely new fight begins — the one over our professionalism.
In the recent months of media speculation, conjecture, blind assumption and general misunderstanding about the role and authority of police in our nation, many have opined about what more is needed to improve the relations between citizens and those who protect them. Depending upon where they sit as they weigh in on this issue (and where they are located in the country, for that matter), the solutions range from the impractical to the insane. On-officer cameras, cultural sensitivity training, police review boards, citizen oversight commissions and more stringent use-of-force policies all seem to reverberate in this great discussion and debate that has captured all of our attention, if only for the purpose of furthering a few dozen knee-jerk pieces of proposed legislation. They are still far from becoming law, but my personal copy of the Penal Code already feels heavier, though I don’t believe any of us is any safer.
What I think can be agreed on, though, by citizens, the police, and our state and national lawmakers, is that more dialogue is needed. No law — however timely, all-encompassing or thorough it may seem — will be effective unless everyone (police, citizens, etc., included) is at the table and has a voice. True, this will require much more patience on our part, but the long, drawn-out conversations that none of us want to participate in must take place if we ever want those whom we serve to have a better grasp of what we do and why we do it, as well as a better understanding of the codified legal decisions about why the actions of the police are just. It’s ridiculous to think that we will convince everyone to see it our way; that’s never going to happen. But we, most specifically PORAC, must be a substantial contributor to this dialogue if we want to have any chance of changing the direction of this growing national sentiment.
All that being said, I want to encourage your local association leadership to consider joining the PORAC Board of Directors for our annual Legislative Day at the State Capitol on May 5. This event, in conjunction with the California Peace Officers Memorial, is a good way not only for you to introduce your organization to your statewide representatives, but also for them to hear our positions from people that they know, trust and have personal experience with. The anecdotes and local stories that your leadership can relate to them go further in helping them understand PORAC’s views and why they are important. If you are a local association leader, and you have questions or an interest in participating in PORAC Legislative Day, please contact your respective Executive Committee member or chapter director for more information.
While attending the Board of Trustees meeting for the Legal Defense Fund last month, I learned that longtime Region I Trustee DeeDee Lundquist from Sonoma County LEA had retired from her law enforcement career. As you probably know, DeeDee was one of the longest-serving trustees for the LDF, helping to manage the Fund for more than a decade. Over the years, she helped to stabilize and improve a benefit that more than 104,000 law enforcement professionals (not only in California, but across the United States) have come to depend on to do their jobs without hesitation. Amid its stable and responsible growth, as well as some closely watched adversity in recent years, her calm and matter-of-fact approach to decision making for the Fund seems to be her legacy. I’d like to join President Durant, the PORAC Board of Directors, and the trustees of the Legal Defense Fund in personally recognizing and thanking DeeDee for her dedication and years of service to PORAC membership.
With her retirement, a special election is now underway to fill the vacancy for LDF trustee in Region I. Nominations are due by February 19, with the election to be held on March 13. Only members from Region I who participate in PORAC LDF are eligible to be candidates and vote in this election. If you are interested, please contact LDF Chairman Fred Rowbotham for more information.
Staying up to date on issues that affect your association is important, now more than ever. This is the perfect time to make good on that New Year’s resolution to attend your local chapter meeting. A calendar of events can be found on page 33 in this issue of Law Enforcement News, or you can keep up with us at www.porac.org and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
Take care and stay safe!