Vice President’s Message

Brent J. Meyer
PORAC Vice President

With so much going on in our profession today, it can be difficult to keep up with it all. So often, if it’s not condensed into 140 characters or less, it isn’t important enough to grab my attention and I just miss it. Where I used to get the newspaper and a cup of coffee is now where I pick up my to-go order and quick-charge my device. We are all on the move.

The original minutes for the January Board of Directors meeting ran to many thousands of words, but we had to cut them down to 2,400 to make them fit this publication while still making sense. Brian and I get roughly 800 words each month to pass along to you what we feel is most important to know. And in our technology-driven world, these print articles are considered long reads. More and more now, we are trying to condense a whole lot of information into smaller and smaller chunks for you. We know that information is coming at you so fast that even when you do actually get to read it, you rarely get the flavor of the discussion that paved the way for any action to be taken.

PORAC is doing its part, though. We are always improving the website, as well as increasing the amount of information we push out to you via Constant Contact, the PORAC Online Membership System (POLS) and our mobile app, which was introduced to you during the 2017 Conference. But we won’t be successful without you, and it is essential that we have the most up-to-date contact for you — be it as the leader of your local association or as a member who wants to stay informed.

That said, have you paid your dues yet? If you haven’t, this could be the last issue of PORAC Law Enforcement News that you ever receive. But it’s about more than just paying the bills on time. Keeping current (or ahead, for some of you) ensures that your respective chapters have money to operate and participate in all the things that they do. It also guarantees that you have access to the benefits of membership that are offered by the Legal Defense Fund (LDF), Insurance & Benefits Trust (IBT) and, if you have it, the Retiree Medical Trust (RMT), all of which you retain by remaining a member in good standing with PORAC.

There is a big pension fight ahead this year, and you may have noticed a $2-per-member monthly dues increase at the start of the new year, which was implemented by the membership to help fund the fight. If you have questions, please do not hesitate to contact your chapter director/president or regional Executive Committee member, or call me at PORAC Headquarters.

No sooner does our Annual Conference mark the end of the year than it is time for our Annual Training Symposium, which is quickly approaching. This year’s Symposium will be held at the DoubleTree Hilton Resort Palm Springs, located in Cathedral City, on April 10–11 (Tuesday–Wednesday). As usual, the PORAC “mini-conference” addresses the current trends and issues related to the rights of peace officers, as well as offering a thoughtful discussion on the FLSA, recent legal decisions related to pensions and information that you need to be aware of concerning the upcoming Janus v. AFSCME case litigation, which will be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court later this year. Our statewide advocates from Aaron Read & Associates will also review the most recent legislation moving through the State Capitol.

While you don’t necessarily need to send a whole contingent of representatives from your association to the Symposium, I would strongly ask you to consider having at least one person participate and bring back the information to your fellow members and co-workers. I can assure you that it will be worth the relatively low cost. In addition, Symposium is a great opportunity to network with other PORAC leaders to address issues that you might also be facing within your local association. The Executive Committee (which includes your region’s representatives) will be there, so please make plans to join us and introduce yourself. After listening to your feedback at last year’s Symposium, we’ve made a few changes that I think you will enjoy. And we look forward to the opportunity to visit with you. Go to www.porac.org/events/symposium for more information and to get signed up before our special room rate expires on March 24!

Finally, speaking of networking, it has been really exciting to see a growing number of new faces at the chapter meetings as we get into 2018. These meetings are the ideal place to address local association issues, build support for your local elected officials and hear important updates from your specific region’s representatives. Take advantage of this monthly occasion to strengthen your ability to lead your association! A calendar of all meetings can be found on our website or mobile app.

Thank you for your membership, have fun and stay safe!

Vice President’s Message

Brent J. Meyer
PORAC Vice President

Happy new year! Hopefully 2018 welcomed you with great health and in the afterglow of bright and festive holidays with your families! While the close of our Annual Conference seems to mark the end of the year for us here at PORAC, December in the State Capitol is just as eventful as any other month — save for the Christmas and New Year’s celebrations, which, for me, come as a welcome break from the craziness of the traveling season.

As the year ended, PORAC took a significant step in addressing the ongoing impact of Proposition 57, as the Board of Directors acted to support the Keeping California Safe Act of 2018. This effort, a partnership of citizens, business owners and law enforcement, is the latest in the campaign to reverse the accumulation of effects stemming from AB 109 and Proposition 47, which have eroded the already-thin blanket of public safety in our state. The Keeping California Safe Act will hopefully be on the ballot later this year, and you should take a hard look at supporting it locally.

By now, you’ve probably already received the first-quarter invoice for PORAC dues, and noticed a monthly increase of $2 per member for the start of the new year. If you hadn’t heard, the delegates at the 2017 Annual Conference of Members voted in favor of changing the PORAC Bylaws to create a mandatory assessment that will be used to address anticipated reform initiatives targeting our pensions, expected later this year. Unlike the previous three years of the dues assessment, there is no opt-out provision. As in previous years, however, you may make a lump-sum contribution from your association’s general fund or PIC account, but you should consult a PAC attorney to determine what is in the best interest of your specific association. Don’t hesitate to contact your chapter director/president or regional Executive Committee member, or get in touch with me at PORAC Headquarters.

Whether it’s addressing statutes that adversely impact our working environments or our retirement security, PORAC remains committed to being at the forefront of the issues that are important to peace officers in California. We stand ready to be the voice of reason and thoughtful debate on ideas and proposals that affect you and your quality of life, be it on the job or for you personally as a vital member of this profession. Though it is widely well-known, remember that no other organization exists with the resources and reputation to effectively accomplish these tasks than PORAC — a fact best demonstrated by our actions, rather than our words.

PORAC will continue to maintain its presence at meetings of your chapter’s representatives throughout our organization and across the state. But just being there isn’t enough. Though it may seem to you or your association like just another meeting to attend, showing up and staying involved in your chapter serves as an invaluable source of information to your members, as well as helping to build a strong foundation in your organization. President Marvel and I are always prepared to pass along the latest information about PORAC’s initiatives or direction when we are there. Even more importantly, we are there to collect any local insight that you may have on issues that likely impact the rest of law enforcement in the state, as well as answering your questions. This sharing of information is vital to PORAC staying effective for you.

PORAC also distinguishes itself from others by the training that we offer each month. We are eager to continue improving and adapting it, as needed, to ensure that you always get the most useful, up-to-date and effective programs out there so that the leadership of your association can adapt as the landscape changes. As our point man on recruiting and retention for PORAC, I see this as a valuable means to meet and discuss where our organization is, as well as what is meaningful to our membership. If you have an interest in attending any of the training offered by PORAC, a complete calendar of the year’s courses can be found on page 38 of this issue of PORAC Law Enforcement News or at PORAC.org/calendar. Questions or inquiries about our training may be directed to Training Manager Claude Alber at training@porac.org, or by calling the PORAC Office.

Finally, the start of a new year is a great opportunity to remind you that if your association’s contact information or elected officers/representatives have changed, you need to update this information with us so that the right people get notified. You can always do this electronically, or by contacting Angie Gonzales at the PORAC Office or at membership@porac.org.

Thank you for your membership, have fun and stay safe!

Vice President’s Message

Brent J. Meyer
PORAC Vice President

All Hands on Deck: Fighting for Our Pensions

As I write this month’s message, it appears that Governor Jerry Brown’s commitment to public safety isn’t what it used to be. He recently filed a petition that moves well beyond his 2013 pension reform package. This latest move seemingly challenges the “California Rule” while attempting to make the case for the state government abdicating the promises made to its public employees.

Let’s not forget that it was the Governor himself who sold his reforms with the argument that if public employees didn’t contribute more to fund our benefits, modify them for future employees and eliminate key benefit enhancements, the public would impose draconian changes themselves, much to our detriment. Stakeholders came to the table. We debated the extent and level of the pain that past, present and future employees could withstand. And in the end, we helped conceive the Public Employees’ Pension Reform Act of 2013 (PEPRA). Governor Brown signed the bill. That signature seemed to end his quest for changes to public worker benefits. While future employees would find themselves working for a slightly lower benefit over a longer period of time with more skin in the game (that is, greater employee contributions), the concessions maintained a promise to current and past employees. It protected what they had earned.

Since then, a lot has happened. The anticipated devastation of the Friedrichs case never occurred, due to a shorthanded U.S. Supreme Court. But the issue has now refocused public employees on the case of Janus vs. AFSCME, which will be heard by a nine-member Supreme Court and most likely will determine the legality of mandatory union fees. As we anticipated in Friedrichs, the Janus case is expected to be the Achilles heel of public sector union funding, given the conservative anti-union majority on the bench today.

Word has also come that former San Jose mayor Chuck Reed is, once again, openly making his case for another anti-public employee pension reform campaign. Reed is apparently arguing that the expected court decision (a loss for the unions) would be the ideal opportunity to strike — since it would be much tougher for unions to collect political action money from members to fight back. None of this should surprise you. We’ve known it was coming. The only question has been when.

Since the start of the year, leadership in PORAC has been discussing these possibilities. While we did have a little time to breathe, we understood that we would need to take a more active role in funding our fight. We’ve always known that a serious campaign fund will require sacrifice on our part, especially if we hope to contribute equally with our labor partners in a fight that we’ll stand shoulder to shoulder in.

We’ve paid close attention and done well to stay actively involved in Californians for Retirement Security (CRS). And over the last four years, we’ve amassed a small, dedicated pot of money to seed the campaign that will be aggressively waged on your behalf. One dollar in 2014. Two dollars in 2015 and 2016. Though voluntary, it was a good start. But that’s all it is… a start.

This time, it will be different. Our efforts must be more structured and our resolve more unified. We must be ready for the worst. That’s why, at the Conference of Members last month, the delegates overwhelmingly passed a $2 per capita dues increase, intended to continue until at least 2019. The dues collected in this assessment will be specifically allocated to protect and defend members’ pensions impacted by any California pension reform initiative. Although similar, this assessment also differs from the last, in that as it will run for at least two years and will be mandatory for all, with member associations being permitted to make a lump sum payment, if they choose, rather than absorb the increase in monthly dues.

The Board of Directors understands this increase may be difficult for members of your association. But when you consider what is at stake here, $24 per member per year is a small price to pay when it comes to holding onto what we were promised way back when we took this job. It also demonstrates our solidarity and loyalty to each other, and sends the message that we will bring an aggressive fight to the ballot box, irrespective of whether the people we once called friends try to undermine us.

PORAC will continue to be on the frontline of this battle, keeping you informed and up to date on the key issues facing our profession. Be sure to stay connected to porac.org and use the new PORAC app. Please keep in contact with your region and chapter representatives to ensure that you aren’t caught off guard about this critical issue. And if you have questions or concerns, seek out your local leadership, attend a chapter meeting and stay informed to get the facts.

Thank you for your membership. Have fun and stay safe!

Vice President’s Message

Brent J. Meyer
PORAC Vice President

Ready to Defend Our Rights and Benefits

There’s no way to sugarcoat the modern reality faced by law enforcement professionals: We are under attack. It’s not just hardcore criminals and sociopaths who are relentless in their assault on and disregard for public safety officers. It’s also the media, some elected officials and, sadly, a growing chorus of the uninformed public. PORAC saw this coming, and we’re doing something about it. We’re not waiting for this to blow over. We’re not hoping the situation will somehow magically improve itself. We are continuing, though, to proactively make sure that law enforcement maintains a powerful presence when major political and economic policy decisions are made in Sacramento. We’re making absolutely sure that your voice is heard.

In my four years as PORAC’s Vice President, the attacks on law enforcement have become more pervasive than at any time in the last half-century. Society has become more fractured and tribalistic, with law enforcement caught squarely in the middle. To make sure that elected officials, policymakers, community thought leaders and the media understand our duties, limitations and expectations, we’ve taken steps to aggressively deepen our footprint in Washington and Sacramento. I’m extremely proud of PORAC’s approach, which has expanded the platform onto which our collective voice is being heard, especially at the federal level.

From the U.S. Capitol to Sacramento, we began to widen our representative base and strengthen our voice in 2013, long before the media portrayal of incidents in Ferguson, Baltimore, Baton Rouge or Tulsa fostered an atmosphere in which law enforcement officers are instantly placed under suspicion and presumed guilty, long before any facts are examined. We will always be an easy target, because when people need help, they call us. We are the first responders, no matter the situation. However, our critics want it both ways. They expect us to protect them, remove the threats to their lives and maintain the peace, yet they want us to keep order in a prescient and gentle fashion, even if it means sacrificing ourselves along the way.

A big part of our work is making sure that state and national authorities understand how we work, how we train and how we make decisions. There is no doubt that PORAC is the working cop’s best defense in ensuring that people know your side of the story. I’ve learned that when civilians — including elected officials and their staffs — understand the logic behind our actions, they are far more likely to comprehend and support the outcomes. We are not always perfect, but even with our imperfections, not a day goes by that law enforcement professionals aren’t risking their lives on behalf of their communities. We recognize the risks, but we never want anyone to take them for granted. That’s why I’m quite proud of our efforts to improve our communications, image and messaging over the past several years. These projects didn’t happen overnight, but with our website redesigns and improved social media, I think we are on the right track.

It’s not wise to assume the public and elected officials will realize how and why we work so hard. We must continually remind them, and then consistently reinforce our message with facts and stories that illustrate the importance of what this profession does across California daily. Accordingly, we have significantly improved the work we’ve done, both internally and externally, on media outreach. While this has grown exponentially from where we were, we must continue to travel every avenue of opportunity to keep the public and those who support us informed about what really goes on in their communities.

These efforts have paid off, reflected by the dividends that we continue to see:  PORAC recently surpassed 70,000 members, making us by far the nation’s largest statewide organization representing law enforcement professionals. That’s an increase of over 4,000 members and approximately 100 new associations in the past four years — an accomplishment that validates the support and trust granted us by every individual member. I’m proud of those numbers and the work that was put in to get there. Our growth amplifies the essence of what PORAC is all about — the importance of unity and advocacy, and our ability to bring peace officers together from an incredibly diverse array of agencies from across California.

But our work is not done; in fact, far from it. Next year, we will likely face another attempt at rolling  back pensions and retirement benefits, probably in the guise of a “reform” initiative presented to voters. A strong organization with experienced leadership will be needed to lead the campaign against draconian cuts directed at your retirement security. With our expertise in Sacramento, PORAC will undoubtedly be at the forefront, fighting to protect the future that every peace officer was promised and counts on.

This will be the biggest fight of 2018, and I look forward to leading the organization as we defend the rights and benefits of PORAC members and their families. Until then, thank you for your membership, have fun and stay safe!

Vice President’s Message

Brent J. Meyer
PORAC Vice President

Ask your average citizen about law enforcement training, and you’ll likely elicit a response chock-full of images of cadets with fresh haircuts, firearms ranges and traversing the trials of the police academy. But ask those of us who’ve been there and made it through … we know better.

In today’s highly complex and constantly evolving world of law enforcement, training never stops. Some of it is annual, most of it perishable, but all of it is necessary. The last sergeant I worked for lived for roll-call training moments; he made it challenging, but fun — and never passed on the opportunity to clown himself for the sake of making a serious training point. Whether it’s a shift briefing update on the penal code or a new local ordinance, a quick refresher on clearing a room or instructions on the finer points of the felony traffic stop, cops crave additional training.

Like lawyers, doctors and teachers, modern law enforcement practitioners spend their careers in professional development and continuing education. Countless hours are devoted to making sure we are equipped with the latest strategies, from tactics to technology. But mostly, we do it to stay sharp … and alive!

Professional development and career training are a key focus of PORAC’s mission. Although it is probably one of the least publicized parts of our work, training is incredibly important to our members and PORAC’s contribution to healthy, active and alert member associations. And we dive deep when it comes to training. Over the last year, I’ve been fortunate to serve as the chairman of PORAC’s Training Committee. It’s been instructive, and I appreciate the mission-critical importance of helping to develop POST-certified training, as well as the unique opportunities it has provided for diverse subject matter to be presented to our members.

As law enforcement professionals, we all possess qualities that define the word “leader”; otherwise, we wouldn’t succeed very long on the job. Most cops are born leaders in one fashion or another, but that instinct must also be developed and refined. The skills that go into building leaders aren’t inherent. They must be learned, trained on and practiced. It’s here where I believe PORAC excels. We recognize that as leaders emerge in our associations across California, they often rely upon their experience as they interact with department heads, local elected officials and fellow members. But that experience can be supplemented with skills developed over generations — strategies involving negotiation, organizing and relationship building. All are unique skills that, if not refreshed and updated, can become dull and without benefit to the members. And I’m not talking about just an elementary review of the basics, either. I’m talking about valuable career development, skills that test and improve a leader’s knowledge and understanding of the challenges that face our profession.   

In my work with our Training Committee, I’ve been busy in recent months working with our staff to review and assess PORAC’s training needs. Several important themes have already emerged. When I began to gather inventories of existing training, I very quickly learned that many of our members are eager for new courses that push them to higher levels of professionalism. I’ve been greatly encouraged by the importance our members place on training and development. It’s also been encouraging to see that the emphasis on training isn’t just limited to our local association leaders. PORAC members from all corners of the state, large and small agencies, ranging from those recently out of the academy to cops with decades on the job — all of them have expressed interest in training and professional development.

While we all know that professional skills are perishable, we also understand that funding education for law enforcement is a necessary expense. Across California, elected officials, city managers and police administrators are always looking at our agency’s training budgets to assess the potential to save money at our expense. They convince themselves that a commitment to professional development doesn’t provide a qualitative value. Cuts always seem to be the first option. Rest assured that PORAC will continue to fight on your behalf to prevent that from happening. We know POST-certified training can’t be treated as a leverage point in budget discussions, yet every legislative session finds us doing our best to beat back reductions in POST’s budget. Professional development extends its value far beyond the skills it helps to create in PORAC members — vital skills that play out in every contact we make, in every call for service we answer and with every law enforcement professional we represent. Needless to say, this is why an emphasis on training is so essential to PORAC. And it’s also why we will continue to be relentless in advocating for more of it for each one of you.

Thank you for your membership, have fun and stay safe!  

Vice President’s Message

Brent J. Meyer
PORAC Vice President

Benefits: PORAC’s Got Your Back

Take a moment to look at our website, porac.org. At the top of the page above our organization’s name and logo are three weblinks. They direct visitors of the site to PORAC’s Legal Defense Fund, Insurance and Benefits Trust, and Retiree Medical Trust. The location of those links — higher than anything else on the PORAC webpage — is neither an accident nor a coincidence. The benefits provided by PORAC are an essential service of the organization. All three trusts are where your PORAC membership pays real dividends. They belong at the top.

As the Vice President of PORAC, I serve as a trustee for two of our benefit trusts: the Insurance and Benefits Trust, and the Retiree Medical Trust. I also work closely on our recruiting and retention efforts with the trustees who oversee the Legal Defense Fund. My position allows me to understand not just the importance of benefits, but precisely how our trusts work. Along the way, I’ve learned why PORAC benefits provide members with some of the best law enforcement coverage to be found in the entire country.

It’s not bragging to say that PORAC benefits, like those offered by PORAC LDF, are considered the best available to peace officer associations nationally. We hear this all the time. The experience I’ve gained while serving as a trustee has convinced me that, while PORAC provides many important services to members, there is nothing more valuable than taking care of our members through our trusts and the benefits they provide.

I’ve also learned it’s not easy to manage our trusts, which are run for cops by cops. Your independently elected trustees strive to always provide the most coverage and benefits, which can be a complicated task given the various levels and cost of benefit products available to large associations. Another critical part of this work involves making sure the trusts remain financially sound. And a delicate balance is required, as trustees measure benefits against cost, maximizing one while responsibly holding the other under control.

Our Insurance and Benefits Trust delivers exactly what we promote. PORAC members can obtain coverage through our sponsored health plan, plus long-term disability, life, accidental death and long-term care insurance plans. We also provide access to dental and vision care, as well as home and vehicle insurance coverage. Unlike most trusts, ours doesn’t stop working once members sign up and secure insurance for themselves and their families. The IBT trustees, backed up by the incredible benefits staff, stand ready to guide members through coverage questions or unexpected problems, with an emphasis on customer service.

The Retiree Medical Trust is one of the fastest-growing benefits we offer. Funded while you are still working, the goal is to help you address the rising costs of health care before finishing your law enforcement career. The Trust facilitates your ability to make tax-free contributions while still working, then use those benefit dollars to reimburse qualified medical expenses in retirement without being burdened by taxes.

As benefits go, PORAC’s Legal Defense Fund stands in a class by itself. With membership nationwide, the Legal Defense Fund protects more than 120,000 public safety professionals in 42 states and four U.S. territories. In operation now for more than 40 years, it is the oldest and largest legal defense plan for law enforcement in the U.S. To assist you, PORAC LDF maintains a legal panel of attorneys, who bring unmatched authority and credibility to the defense table should you need it. And there is no limit to their advocacy. When a panel attorney needs support for their defense, PORAC LDF can provide it, sparing no expense to ensure that use-of-force experts, investigators and/or technical specialists are there to give the member the very best representation. Together with the trustees, PORAC LDF’s professionals walk members through the entire process, explaining each step and advocating the best possible legal strategy for them.

When I was sworn in as a police officer almost 20 years ago, benefits — and their quality  — were the furthest thing from my mind. We all came into this profession excited about the work, thinking little about suffering a major injury or actually having to file an insurance claim. Retirement was some distant concept that the old guys talked about over breakfast. And like you, I felt righteous, believing that Internal Affairs was just a place that the “bad” cops ended up. Today, my rookie naiveté gives me pause to smile. After working patrol and a handful of specialty assignments over the past 19 years, as well as having responded to countless critical incidents and members’ calls to IA, I understand the need for the best benefits. My experience — both as a police officer and as a trustee — has taught me to be thankful that when it comes to benefits, PORAC has our back.

Thank you for your membership. Have fun and stay safe!

Vice President’s Message

Brent J. Meyer
PORAC Vice President

Effective Political Advocacy Starts With Strong Relationships

So, when the president or vice president needs to quickly make PORAC’s voice heard in the California State Assembly, how does it happen? We hop into the car, take a drive over to the Capitol, catch the elevator to the sixth floor and pay a visit to the office of Assembly Member Jim Cooper. We’re lucky, because Assembly Member Cooper’s door is always open to PORAC and its members. The relationship already exists there, so we can get right down to business. We don’t have to spend time explaining law enforcement policy positions, because Cooper is one of us — a retired captain with the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department.

It’s a huge benefit for PORAC to have former cops serving in the Legislature. We may not always agree on every policy point, but that’s OK. We can be confident about having our voices heard. Of course, there are far more legislators in Sacramento and Washington who aren’t retired law enforcement professionals, who don’t understand our agenda from the inside, and who may lack even the most basic understanding about how public safety officers work.

Not long ago, a prominent elected official asked me why, in officer-involved shootings, police weren’t trained to tactically “wound” the suspect. Everyone in law enforcement has heard that question from civilians — movies make it look so easy — but I was really surprised to hear it from a veteran lawmaker. After carefully explaining what happens when an officer is compelled to use deadly force, I was reminded of why advocacy is so important for the members of PORAC.

In Sacramento and Washington, the word “advocacy” is synonymous with lobbyists. PORAC has always had the best and most experienced lobbyists on retainer. We count on them to accomplish much of our heavy lifting: They track, promote, shape and work to defeat some of the thousands of bills introduced each year by the State Legislature and Congress.

The duties are somewhat different for the PORAC president and vice president, though. While we aren’t lobbyists, we are the very best advocates for our members. More importantly, we are law enforcement professionals, people who know firsthand what it takes to work the streets and protect the citizens who send elected officials to Sacramento and Washington. State legislators and congressional representatives often seek us out precisely because we know what it means to do this job. When politicians speak to us, they aren’t just getting talking points from a lobbyist or paid spokesperson. They are hearing directly from the people who respond to the calls for service. That real-world credibility is crucial to PORAC’s mission and success. And it’s something I take very seriously.

PORAC is the largest statewide law enforcement organization in the United States. This prominence gives us an advantage that we often leverage, both in our state and national capitals. We spend significant time at the State Capitol, and that’s why we make at least two trips each year to Washington (and frankly, I’d like to do even more to raise our D.C. profile). In my time here, I’ve been working diligently to expand PORAC’s footprint and influence with lawmakers — not just to improve our advocacy on behalf of members, but to resist any effort that would seek to weaken and divide us.

It may seem obvious, but it’s something we can’t forget. Sacramento and Washington are full of advocates — thousands of them — and many are dedicated to actively opposing law enforcement. If PORAC doesn’t speak out, the void will be filled by those working against us. Fortunately, our organization has established solid credibility over the years with elected officials. Politicians know well our reputation as an advocacy organization, and they respect that. They also know we can be counted on to return that respect by making strong, legitimate arguments for our positions.

And we appreciate something else: Even elected officials with law enforcement backgrounds must represent their districts holistically, always mindful of the political and cultural diversities that exist in every community. Our advantage in Sacramento and Washington is founded solidly on our experience and reputation. Experience has taught me that politics must be understood in layers, and those layers aren’t readily visible to the inexperienced, untrained eye.

The complexities of our advocacy require not simply just knowing people like Assembly Member Cooper, but knowing his colleagues — people who may lack comprehensive understanding about what California’s law enforcement professionals need to accomplish their mission and keep communities safe. I suppose that if every elected official came from a law enforcement background, the jobs of PORAC president and vice president would be easy. But the reality is that often we need votes from those politicians whose image of public safety is largely formed by the media, movies and television. That’s why PORAC never takes shortcuts in providing credible and experienced advocacy.  And now, more than ever, we need that.

Thank you for your membership. Have fun and stay safe!  

Vice President’s Message

Brent J. Meyer
PORAC Vice President

Let’s say it all starts with a parka. On a warm summer afternoon, a police officer on patrol notices a man walking along a street in a residential neighborhood. Despite weather more appropriate for a T-shirt and shorts, this guy is sporting a parka. More observant than the average person, the patrol officer notices that first — a heavy jacket on a nice day. And it’s out of place.

The officer hangs back in his car, watching the man cross the street. Several vehicles slow as the pedestrian meanders through the intersection, dodging vehicles that have the legal right-of-way. He doesn’t notice the police car. Nor is he obviously impaired or staggering. But he seems aimless, not paying enough attention. At this point, the officer has two options. He can forget everything he just witnessed, ignore what his instincts are saying, drive away and wait for the next call for service. Or he can initiate contact, based on the man’s inattention as he crossed the street, and dig a little deeper.

With a few words, maybe the officer learns why someone would wear a parka on a warm afternoon. It’s probably nothing, but you never know. Choosing the second option, the officer pulls over, steps out of his car and, using a friendly, nonthreatening voice, calls after the man. No reaction. The man ignores the officer and keeps walking. The officer calls out a second time. No reaction.

You know what happens next.

Having failed to respond to the officer’s friendly callout, the parka-wearing pedestrian has instantly launched himself into a special category: He’s a person who refuses to comply with lawful commands. Escalating his command presence, the officer orders the man to stop. He has no obligation to let the guy walk away. Good training dictates that he won’t. Suddenly, the pedestrian turns around. He yells at the officer and challenges him to fight. He strips off his parka and assumes a combative stance.

The officer calls for backup, but he has yet to have control of the situation. In attempting to detain the man, they end up on the ground, where the officer overcomes his resistance with several punches before the handcuffs can be applied. As backup arrives, citizens appear with cellphones, saying they filmed the entire encounter. The officer’s dashboard camera provides another perspective. But within 24 hours, the videos go viral on the web. The officer’s punches become the story. He is suspended pending an internal investigation.

Real-life scenarios nearly identical to the fictional one described here happen all the time. They are part of the puzzle that comprises the image of law enforcement. They reflect the price that professional peace officers can pay for trying to serve and protect the public in a proactive manner. When videos are added to the mix, they require a swift, credible and appropriate response to defend our image. Nothing is more important than our image to ensure the respect, integrity and reputation of California law enforcement, almost 70,000 of whom are members of PORAC. But too often, when our officers are portrayed in the news media, the narrative is established by people who know very little about the work we do. Politicians, academics, lawyers and civilians do the talking — usually lacking a legal understanding behind what occurred. Suffice it to say, they offer a much different (and often negative) perspective than that of the veteran cop.

In my time as PORAC’s vice president, and before that as Sacramento POA’s president, I’ve come to appreciate the value of fighting to protect our image. Amid the last three years of an escalating war on law enforcement, the duty of defending that image has become even more critical. There have been decades when it was not so important that PORAC develop media strategies and push to represent our perspective to the public. Those were the decades before smartphones, in-car cameras and instantly viral videos.

Today, we have a different and far greater responsibility. As the largest statewide law enforcement organization in the United States, PORAC must work harder to stand out as the go-to source for the media and public who need to hear our point of view. When these types of videos go viral, the media coverage always seems filled with opinions that ignore facts, or are aimed right back at us in an effort to tarnish our image. Unfortunately, the people who can bring experience, wisdom and credibility to the discussion get overlooked, dismissed or prohibited from speaking.

When it comes to what we do, no organization is better positioned to help the media and public understand what goes into the tactics, policies and decisions made on the streets by law enforcement professionals. This mission is one of the main reasons why PORAC exists, and we must continue to lead in protecting that image. And I am very proud to be part of our efforts that are already underway to do it!

Thank you for your membership, have fun and stay safe!

Vice President’s Message

Brent J. Meyer
PORAC Vice President

From Day One in the Academy and the nearly 20 years since, I’ve known that our profession is under the microscope. We are big targets; easy to see coming. The police stand out, so it’s easy for some people to spot us and wait, ready for us to make a mistake. We are frequently called into situations where our presence isn’t welcome, and where the people we are sworn to protect are less than cooperative. And today, the microscope on us has grown more intense and powerful.

Cameras are everywhere — on every smart phone, on many of our vehicles and clipped to our uniforms. We work in an environment where our workday practices and habits are recorded, downloaded, shared, televised and available for endless replay and analysis by amateurs and professionals, media, and friends and critics alike. Few professionals are subject to more scrutiny. Being the adult in the room is nothing new for law enforcement officers. It’s in our fabric. Every police officer, sheriff’s deputy and public safety official knows the stakes when they put on the badge and go to work. The microscope just comes with the job. Still, as the public’s microscope has grown more intense, so has the need for law enforcement professionals to band together and rely on each other for support and assistance. That’s why networking is a fundamental cornerstone to PORAC’s mission.

When I travel around California each month, I get the opportunity and great privilege to meet with our members. Truth be told, I love it! In any given training course or chapter meeting, I really try to emphasize the importance of networking. I think it’s one of the best, yet most understated, benefits of PORAC. In today’s environment, one where we can expect to be recorded in every aspect of our job, on every street corner, and each time we make a contact, I truly believe that networking is more essential than ever to our professional veracity.

Now, I know some of you may be wondering if I am overstating the importance of networking here. It’s really just information sharing or communication, right? Yes. But, it’s more than that, too. We deploy it across several levels at PORAC, so let me discuss how those levels differ, how they work to provide real value to members, and how we can improve in the years ahead.

One important level of networking relates to PORAC’s interaction with elected officials in Sacramento and Washington, D.C. In nearly four years here, I’ve learned there can be significant differences of opinion and political philosophy between the elected officials who represent us in California and those who represent us in Washington.

These differences can be complex, opaque and frustrating. They can also be intimidating to newcomers who don’t understand how high-stakes politics work under the Capitol domes in Sacramento or Washington. Once I learned how to navigate those differences, I knew that the importance of networking would always be linked to the relationships that the PORAC team has built among elected officials.

Public officials count on the consistency and professionalism of PORAC’s message and presentation. They’ve learned to trust our word, and I’m proud of our ability to work with elected officials regardless of individual political backgrounds and perspectives. Even when we disagree with the “electeds,” we express our differences respectfully.

Relationships and the ability to network must transcend an occasional dispute. It’s the long term that matters, and it’s an open line of communication that gets us there. Know that PORAC will never waver from its core positions on behalf of you. I’m very proud that our core values are something our members and elected officials can always count on.

However, networking isn’t just political. It works within our organization, too. While many of us share the same goals, there are times when our Central California associations may have slightly different interests than those in Northern or Southern California. As with politics, these differences may not be obvious to a newcomer. They may not always make sense.

I’ve seen many instances within our organization where the ability to come together and network allows for greater understanding of common goals, even when the commonality isn’t apparent. And our networking isn’t just social. It’s not just about getting along with people and sharing ideas. At its core, networking is about adaptability — about having the experience to understand where an association is coming from, to adapt that perspective to the larger or smaller association, and then figure out how a derivative of that issue can empower everyone to improve the association for its membership.

More than anything, networking is about working together for a common purpose. Police academies have been teaching this for generations — hammering home the point that we can’t be islands, that we must work as a team to build trust from within, and that we can improve ourselves from the perspective of one another.

The microscope that hovers over law enforcement has never been more powerful. That’s why we need each other — the network of law enforcement professionals that is PORAC, working together and always looking out for each other.

Thank you for your membership, have fun and stay safe!  

Vice President’s Message

Brent J. Meyer
PORAC Vice President

A rush-hour traffic collision. An early morning bus accident. A motorcycle pursuit. Three everyday events in the life of a California peace officer. Three tasks we manage with absolute efficiency and professionalism countless times throughout our careers. But within 72 hours this past February, those three common and separate events began a horrifically fateful process that left three of our own dead in Whittier, Dublin and Sacramento.

May 15 is Peace Officers Memorial Day, a time for us to honor and remember colleagues who went to work, did their jobs and never came home to their families. Today, the deaths of Keith Boyer, Michael Foley and Lucas Chellew are tragically part of our reality, each distinctive but illustrative of the endless complexities and inherent dangers that define our profession.

For Officer Boyer, the call was a traffic collision near Colima Road and Mar Vista Street in Whittier. He and his partner arrived to find the driver in a vehicle that had been reported stolen. When they ordered the driver out, he came up shooting, firing a handgun at the officers. Both were hit. Officer Boyer, a 27-year veteran of the Whittier Police Department, died about two hours later. His partner, Officer Patrick Hazell, who joined the Whittier agency three years ago, was hospitalized.

The suspect, who was wounded by the officers as they returned fire but was later taken into custody, is a career criminal and gang member with convictions for robbery and auto theft. He is suspected of having murdered his cousin hours before encountering Officers Boyer and Hazell. The Whittier officers didn’t know, nor could they have known, about the earlier homicide when they responded to the traffic collision.

The fact that Keith Boyer’s killer was at large and roaming unchecked through Whittier’s streets infuriated his Chief, Jeff Piper. Chief Piper blames, and rightly so, California’s ineffective sentencing reforms and flawed jail-reduction policies for increasing the risks to those of us who keep the streets safe. Two voter-approved initiatives, Propositions 47 and 57, along with their Governor-approved predecessor, Assembly Bill 109, were designed to make prisoners more comfortable by reducing prison populations. But all they’ve done is make our profession more dangerous.

“We need to wake up,” Chief Piper said. “Enough is enough. You’re passing these propositions, you’re creating these laws that are raising crime. It’s not good for our communities and it’s not good for our officers. What you have today is an example of that. We need to pull our head out of the sand and realize what we are doing to our community and to our officers who give their life, like Officer Boyer did today.”

Alameda County Sheriff’s Deputy Michael Foley was walking through the parking lot at the Santa Rita jail just before sunrise when he was accidentally struck by a jail bus leaving to pick up bagged lunches for inmates. Deputy Foley died the next day.

“Our hearts are broken today,” the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office wrote in a Facebook post. Deputy Foley was a 29-year veteran of the Concord Police Department. After retiring in 2007, he was hired by Alameda County, where he was respected for his work ethic and known for his commitment to the job.

Sheriff Gregory Ahern said the poor lighting and slick pavement from recent rains contributed to the tragic accident. Deputy Foley was wearing dark clothing and wasn’t visible to the bus driver, a fellow sheriff’s deputy.

California Highway Patrol motor officer Lucas Chellew was pursuing a stolen motorcycle on Fruitridge Road near Stockton Boulevard in Sacramento when a citizen’s vehicle crossed into his path just as rush hour was wrapping up that early evening. Officer Chellew tried to avoid the car but could not, striking its passenger side. He was ejected from his motorcycle and suffered fatal injuries, despite valiant and heroic efforts by two of my Sacramento P.D. colleagues. The suspect, previously convicted of identity theft and wanted for outstanding warrants, was later taken into custody and charged in the case.

Officer Chellew was an eight-year veteran of the CHP. His father, Chuck, is a retired CHP captain. His sister, Hanna, still works for the Highway Patrol. “He had the best heart, but he didn’t want people to know. He would hide it behind a silly smirk,” Hanna said. CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow added, “His service and sacrifice will forever be honored and never forgotten.”

The deaths of Officer Boyer, Deputy Foley, and Officer Chellew occurred within a span of just three days and in three different California communities. Though unrelated, they will be eternally linked. We will never forget them. Unfortunately, we have to say this too much, yet I don’t think that we remember it often enough.

Peace Officers Memorial Day is a reminder to all of us why what we do is important, and of the price that so many of our colleagues and their families have paid to keep all Californians safe. Especially this month, we ought not to forget this. Keep safe and be vigilant!