While America was captivated in March by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) basketball tournament, Washington was preparing for its busiest time of year — appropriations (funding) season. With the fiscal year (FY) 2019 funding bill signed,1 lawmakers have begun to focus on FY2020 legislation. Congress is in the preliminary stages of appropriations; members of the Appropriations Committee are beginning to hold hearings with relevant agencies to discuss funding priorities. On March 11, President Donald Trump published his 2020 budget proposal, the first step in the federal appropriations process.
Through the leadership of President Brian Marvel and lobbyists Randy Perry and Aaron Read, PORAC and a coalition of law enforcement stakeholders successfully prevented a strong legislative effort last session to radically limit peace officer rights to self-defense and defense of others. Assemblymember Shirley Weber (D–San Diego) introduced Assembly Bill 931 on behalf of the ACLU and a coalition of anti-law-enforcement zealots to redefine the necessary standard for the use of deadly force set by the U.S. Supreme Court in Graham v. Connor. PORAC successfully opposed this unconstitutional attempt to erode peace officers’ inalienable right to self-defense.
Over 2,750 bills have been introduced this year. Of those bills, PORAC is tracking over 215 that potentially have an impact on law enforcement or the safety of the communities we serve. All hands are on deck as we diligently work to pass PORAC’s sponsored bill, SB 230 by Senator Anna Caballero (D–Salinas), and actively oppose AB 392 by Assemblymember Shirley Weber (D–San Diego). Last month’s PORAC LE News highlighted SB 230, which was introduced by law enforcement to proactively address use-of-force policies, guidelines and training.
During the last week of January, PORAC Vice President Damon Kurtz visited Capitol Hill for a busy day of meetings with members of Congress and their staff. Mr. Kurtz met with representatives from nearly a dozen congressional offices and met directly with five members of Congress. Vice President Kurtz’s visits served several purposes. It enabled him to introduce himself as PORAC’s new vice president.
Over the last few years, “use of force” has become a familiar term in the halls of the Capitol. While law enforcement is all too familiar with the devastating realities of use of force in your everyday lives, legislators and stakeholders are now becoming a more involved part of the discussion. The introduction of Assemblymembers Shirley Weber and Kevin McCarty’s AB 931 in 2018 was the start of a new conversation on use of force in the state of California — a conversation that we will likely see for many years to come.
To help you learn more about where and who your fellow members are, in each issue of PORAC Law Enforcement News we’ll profile one of the 14 chapters up and down the state. We hope that reading about each chapter’s challenges and achievements will bring us all closer together and inspire you, your association and your own chapter as you navigate the road ahead.