Following nationwide protests in the wake of the death of George Floyd, the Los Angeles City Council introduced a motion to cut $150 million from the LAPD budget — a decision so apparently spontaneous and unilateral that the association representing the department’s command officers had to hear about it on Twitter, without any opportunity to discuss or address the issue.
By the second week of May, Assembly and Senate members returned to Sacramento to continue the work they began before recessing per the governor’s stay-at-home order on March 16. However, with many professions, the COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically altered the way the California Legislature will be doing its job, which in turn, has changed the way we do ours. While many of the processes for submitting position letters have remained the same, we are experiencing major shifts in the way we meet with legislators, staff and stakeholders on bills and the way we testify in hearings. Due to the guidance on physical distancing, the committee hearings are extremely limited for the press and the public.
On March 6, 2020, one of the great pioneers in California law enforcement advocacy and PORAC history was laid to rest. You’ll find a special feature in this month’s issue of PORAC Law Enforcement News on page 16 memorializing the contributions and legacy of Rick Baratta, which included some extensive time as a member of PORAC’s leadership.
It’s with great sadness we say goodbye to Rick Baratta, a life member since 1956 and cornerstone of PORAC. Rick not only spent many fruitful years as PORAC’s general manager and editor of this very publication, but was critical in helping implement many of the programs used by California law enforcement officers today. Rick passed away peacefully at his home in March after battling a series of illnesses. He was survived by his wife, Elizabeth; three children Richard, Brian and Judy; grandchildren; brothers Kenneth and Peter; and German Shepherds Chooch and Charlie.
For years, Lavi Farcas would unwind from her job as a dispatcher by spending her free time sewing clothes, pillows and bedding material for her family and loved ones. But since the coronavirus began spreading across the country earlier this year and putting those on the front lines at increased risk, Farcas has turned her passion into a philanthropic project by making masks for PORAC members throughout the Inland Chapter.
The loss of life is always tragic, and the incident in Minneapolis has damaged the trust in our nation’s law enforcement agencies. The role of peace officers is to protect and serve the citizens of their community. Sadly, what we saw in the video was a man in distress crying for help. Mr. George Floyd did not need to die.
During National Peace Officers Memorial Day and National Police Week in May, it is a tradition for our nation’s law enforcement members and supporters to come together to pay tribute to the local, state and federal peace officers who made the ultimate sacrifice while protecting and serving their communities. This year, however, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many peace officer ceremonies and gatherings have been canceled.
During this time of uncertainty as we face the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, PORAC has witnessed law enforcement members across the state and country working the front lines day in and day out, putting their lives at risk to protect the public despite the lack of adequate personal protective equipment and access to testing. As such, we’ve been inundated by questions from members about what benefits and protections are available to them should they find themselves unable to work as a result of exposure to or infection with COVID-19.