Vice President’s Message

Damon Kurtz
PORAC Vice President

As expected, on the political level 2021 has started much like last year. Within a few days of the start of this year’s legislative session, there were already several bills on proposed law enforcement reform. Despite a lack of experience, it seems everyone is now an expert on law enforcement and has decided they have the best idea on how it should be done.

It’s sad that this concept has now permeated every facet of the media. I’ve grown accustomed to seeing this in the news media, but now it seems to be even in the TV shows our friends and family watch. I used to scoff at most TV shows when they depicted law enforcement, because it was usually too grandiose or completely inaccurate to how the job is done. Now I just get angry because law enforcement is no longer shown as a heroic profession. It is now portrayed as a profession full of immoral and bigoted people who have no regard for the communities they serve. In my 26 years of experience, I know this to be a false depiction; the bad apples are the exception, not the norm. The men and women of law enforcement are some of most caring and compassionate people in any profession. So many go above and beyond what the job requires to help those in need — but you already knew that.

I keep seeing our elected leaders and persons of influence talk about creating an environment of trust between communities and law enforcement, yet their actions and words do the opposite. The truth is that the media and our politicians will stoke these fires and promote the division in our communities as long as it gets votes or viewership.

Although all of this frustrates me and makes me angry, it also motivates me. I know we are better, and I have been put in a position to carry that message to anyone who will listen. The advocacy we do at PORAC is at the state and national level because we have that platform, but I still advocate at the local level when I can. I know I am a broken record on this issue, but it all starts at the local level. As ambassadors of the profession, we must be more proactive in our outreach and involvement at the local levels. Your local POA and DSA are essential in creating the dialogue and trust in our communities. It’s up to us to create and maintain a healthy relationship in our communities. I often see angry posts on social media from members of law enforcement lashing out at those who advocate for law enforcement reform. I would encourage all of us to focus on working with our local associations to bring that message, rather than continuing with the vitriol for all to see.

This year’s legislation is much like last year’s. The main focus seems to be on creating a law enforcement licensing system in which a peace officer’s POST certificate can be revoked for wrongdoing. In concept, this not a bad thing as long as the process is fair and equitable, devoid of political pressures. Unfortunately, since it’s the politicians who create the laws, there are always politics involved. At PORAC, we are hard at work trying to come to resolutions on the bills the Legislature brings forward without negative impacts on the profession. We know this is a tall order, but it’s one we are committed to.

On a more positive note, we are looking ahead to a new year of training and events. We are hard at work putting together a full schedule of new and established classes for the upcoming year. The 2021 Symposium and POREF Open Golf Tournament will be here before you know it (April 15–17). With most of 2020’s events having been canceled, we look forward to seeing everyone again. We expect the trainings and events to sell out, as there is limited space, so do not delay in registering if you plan on attending one. I hope to see you all in person soon. Take care, stay healthy and stay safe out there!

Vice President’s Message

Damon Kurtz
PORAC Vice President

Well, it’s finally here, the end of 2020 is upon us! The challenges this past year brought, I hope, will stay in 2020. Although the pandemic continues, the possibility of a vaccine brings hope for some normalcy in 2021. Unfortunately, one thing that has become normal is attacks on the law enforcement profession. Some may take offense to me saying that law enforcement is being attacked and that reform is needed. To that, I say we as law enforcement professionals welcome the dialogue on reform and will embrace many of the concepts brought forward. We will not shy away from law enforcement reforms. After all, it’s always our goal to have better outcomes, and we will always be looking to better our profession. Unfortunately, many have turned the “reform movement” into a vindictive political agenda that has no regard for the safety of law enforcement officers or the public we serve. So, as we say good riddance to 2020 and look to 2021 with a fresh outlook, we will be prepared to bring a fair and reasonable approach to law enforcement reforms.

Now that the elections have concluded, I would imagine many are not happy with some of the outcomes. For PORAC, there were some losses that will be felt for some time to come. None more than the Los Angeles district attorney’s race. With the election of George Gascón, we can expect a much louder voice for unreasonable reforms that will seek to provide a pathway for peace officers being prosecuted. Across the nation, there were several referendums on law enforcement reform. The majority of these initiatives were focused on oversight and transparency, and most of them passed by wide margins. The message should be clear to us all — there will be reform. Like all legislation, the devil is in the details. This makes the importance of a unified voice in law enforcement even more important.

At PORAC, it’s our goal to bring the collective voice of our member associations. I fully expect our advocacy to be tested again in 2021. As I have stated multiple times, those advocacy efforts start with you at the local level. Maintaining good relationships with your elected representative and community groups are just as important as our efforts at the State Capitol and in Washington, D.C. As association leaders, we can no longer only focus on local issues. Your local issues can quickly become a precedent and affect all of law enforcement. Make sure you are going to your chapter meetings and share what’s happening in your community. We are all in this together!

On a much lighter note, it’s also the holiday season. I hope we all get time to disengage from our daily stressors and get to focus on what’s truly important, our friends and family. A strong support network is so important to our well-being. It’s important that we spend time with those outside our profession to keep us grounded. It seems that as LE officers, we focus on the negative, and I often worry about our members who seem to be stuck in a negative mindset. I challenge everyone to take at least one day (hopefully more) and spend it with friends and loved ones with no discussions about work or politics. No news, no social media, just the people you care about. Let’s make a conscious effort to be more positive in 2021. I know I take solace in my friends and family and the support they give me. I also find comfort in knowing that when I am at work, my LE family is there, too. Despite our differences, we all have each other’s backs. Like my time in the military, the bond we share as fellow law enforcement officers means we have friends wherever we go. 

With most events and trainings canceled in 2020, I am excited to bring back PORAC trainings and events for 2021. The shutdown of our events allowed us to look at our classes and events to make them better. Our first major event will be the 2021 PORAC Symposium and POREF Open Golf Tournament in April. I look forward to seeing everyone this coming year in person. Stay safe and healthy out there!

Vice President’s Message

Damon Kurtz
PORAC Vice President

As we enter the final stages of the election season, I am eager to put this year behind us. It’s unfortunate that the political climate has become so divisive, even among our member associations and members of the law enforcement community. For Brian and I, it is a virtual minefield when it comes to political endorsements as we try to merge the strategies of the local chapters and associations with those of the state interests at the Capitol. Although many of us are focused on the presidential election, for PORAC, it is the local and state races that will impact us the most in regard to future legislation, especially in the area of police reform. 

We are busy putting together our legislative strategy and bill proposals for the upcoming session, which begins on December 7. The expectation is that many of the bills that negatively impacted law enforcement will be reintroduced. This makes your relationships at the local levels as important as ever to help us bring a commonsense approach to legislation at the state level.

One of the greatest benefits of PORAC is the collective voice of our member associations. Having member associations in virtually every legislative district gives us the ability to have a consistent message when we represent law enforcement at the Capitol. Having a broad view of an issue rather than a singular agency vision and allowing for input from all our membership was always something I valued as a representative of my local association. Now as the vice president of PORAC, I value this even more — your input is what allows us to be successful.

Although it’s still unknown how COVID-19 will impact us in 2021, PORAC is focused on bringing the members a quality mix of training and opportunities for meeting and networking. We know 2021 will bring its own challenges and it’s our goal to help each association be successful. We recently held an Advanced Collective Bargaining class and plan on providing this class and others in the coming year. Networking with PORAC member associations has been one of the most impactful benefits for me, especially when it came to negotiating MOUs or department policies. I know as cops we tend to have a “circle the wagons” mentality when it comes to our local issues, but I encourage you to reach out and network on your issues. Together we can be truly effective in helping our member associations be successful. These local issues can be precedent-setting and can affect us all.

There are times where I’ve heard association leaders comment on a training or an event, stating they did not get anything from attending. My response to them is, “But did someone else benefit from what you brought to the event?” The collective knowledge and experiences we share at these events can be the difference between success or failure for those looking for guidance on their issues. As Winston Churchill once said, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”

Our 2021 Symposium is scheduled for April 15–17 at the Laguna Cliffs Resort in Dana Point. There will be a good mix of industry experts and presentations that we believe will be useful to you and your members. It will be immediately followed by the POREF Open Golf Tournament, to be held April 17 at the Monarch Beach Golf Links. This event will benefit our education and relief funds, which allow us to provide educational scholarships and much-needed monetary relief to those impacted by tragic events such as the wildfires here in California. (See page 41 for more details.)

PORAC will remain focused on our advocacy efforts at the state and federal levels and on providing the best possible benefits to our members. Thank you for all of your support. Take care and be safe out there! 

Vice President’s Message

Damon Kurtz
PORAC Vice President

The 2020 legislative session ended on August 31 with a good amount of drama. For PORAC and all of law enforcement, we were focused on roughly 25 bills in the Assembly and Senate that were aimed at police reform. Like many bills focused on law enforcement, they were put together haphazardly and without input from industry experts. With the political climate demonizing law enforcement, many of these bills would have had a negative impact, not just on our profession but also on the communities we serve. Because of the issues surrounding COVID, the legislative process was extremely difficult, as it was much harder to meet and hopefully educate our elected officials on the ramifications of some of the bills being introduced. Ultimately, it came down to the last few hours of this session, but the majority of the bills we opposed did not pass out of the Legislature. This was in large part due to the hard work done by Randy Perry and our advocates at Aaron Read & Associates. Thanks to them and a strong law enforcement coalition of groups outside of PORAC, we were able to make it through this session without the passage of bills like SB 731, which would have been devastating to the law enforcement profession. SB 731 would have created an unfair decertification of POST certificates and removed qualified immunity.

Unfortunately, the 2021 legislative session is already shaping up to be every bit as challenging as years past. We will be prepared to deal with all these bills again, as many will most likely be reintroduced. New challenges are coming from places where we traditionally had political allies. Everyone should be aware by now of the Los Angeles County district attorney election. George Gascón, the former DA of San Francisco, who has demonized law enforcement and worked to weaken the criminal justice system here in California, is seeking to unseat incumbent Jackie Lacey. If successful, he will use the L.A. District Attorney’s Office to influence legislation and elections of DAs across the state. As proof of this agenda, the progressive DAs have formed their own group outside of their DA peers to lobby in Sacramento for extreme bills in hopes of giving these bills the legitimacy of “law enforcement” support. Maintaining strong advocacy remains a primary focus for PORAC.

PORAC’s effectiveness comes from our 930-plus associations and our 77,000-plus members. It gives us a level of confidence that when we put out a call for assistance from our members, you always come through. As we head into the 2021 legislative session, I urge you to maintain close communications with your elected officials in your area. The individual relationships you build at home help our united voice in Sacramento and in Washington, D.C. The legislative efforts on police reform in most cases aren’t a bad thing in concept; it’s the details of that reform where we cannot agree. I often say that reform is not a new concept to law enforcement, and we do not resist it. We have always been in reform, always looking for better outcomes for both the officer and the public. Although the voices of those who disparage law enforcement are loud, there are many more voices that support us. I am confident that the voices of support will soon drown out the negative rhetoric. Law enforcement is a noble profession, and I am proud to represent you.

As restrictions on COVID ease and with the possibility of a vaccine in the near future, we will be meeting in person again. I hope to see you all soon, whether it is at a chapter meeting, Symposium or Annual Conference. Although this year’s Conference has been canceled, we will still be meeting as a full Board in November. We still want to hear from you. President Marvel and I are always looking to improve on how PORAC serves its members. Thank you for your service, and stay safe out there!

Vice President’s Message

Damon Kurtz
PORAC Vice President

We are now about three-quarters of the way through the year, and I, for one, am looking forward to the normalcy of what an off-election year brings in 2021. To say this has been a challenging and disappointing year would be an understatement. Put aside the issues surrounding COVID-19, the political ramifications that have arisen from this year will be long felt. I do not think I ever thought that our political system could ever be as divisive as it has become. I have watched in disappointment the hate and vitriol spewing from the left and right. Worse yet, the media has become complicit in spreading hate and fear within our communities. Where does the public go to get the true news without political bias? We are constantly bombarded with half-truths and sometimes outright lies. Is it any wonder why there is so much unrest? Propaganda has been used for hundreds of years to undermine governments and political systems. Our media has become nothing more than propaganda. The “cancel culture,” which we live in today, seems hell-bent on changing the very fabric of our country. It seems the mantra now is, if we do not like our history, we will erase it and rewrite it based on political agenda, despite what the facts may be. God forbid, we focus on our progress and growth. As a nation, we have areas of dark and disappointing history. We also have so many things to be proud of. I think we can look at our own personal history in a similar fashion. I myself can say I have said or done things in my life that I am not proud of. Whether it was out of immaturity, ignorance or arrogance, I have made mistakes. But I have learned from those mistakes and have tried to be a better person as a result. It’s called personal growth. As a nation and as individuals, I think it’s important to know where you came from and where you want to be. 

I have written often about being civically involved and how important it is. Now, more than ever, we need our members to be involved in our communities. The activists have taken over the media and the political agenda. There is a deliberate and very vocal push to defund the police in our communities. Behind the scenes, there is a push to undermine our POAs and DSAs. Our ability to collectively bargain for our members is being attacked as an impediment to reform. If our voice is stifled, who will be there for law enforcement? At PORAC, we often speak of the “silent majority,” but the silent majority is you — those of you not engaged with your local POA or DSA who go out and do the job every day and go home to your families. We need the everyday person to start engaging in their communities. I’m not asking for people to get political. In fact, I think that’s where we all struggle to communicate with each other. As members of the community, we all have similar needs — the desire to live in a safe and clean environment. We need everyone to start having common-sense conversations with our friends, families and neighbors. Call or email your legislators — it does work! I believe together we can make a difference despite the obstacles the media may put in front of us. 

PORAC will continue to be a voice for law enforcement, and be a resource for our elected officials on legislative issues. Through our collective voice of over 930 organizations, we will force dialogue and try to bring reasonable solutions to the elected who, in many cases, act with emotion and without facts. These are tough times, but together we will get through it. Take care and stay safe out there!

Vice President’s Message

Damon Kurtz
PORAC Vice President

Well, we are halfway through 2020, and to be honest, I’m kind of done with the events of this year. It seems like every article I’ve written this year starts out talking about the strange times we are experiencing. It feels like we are living through a cheesy made-for-TV movie with plot twists and conspiracies. Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined a world in which “defund the police” is a political platform debated at the highest levels of our government, or in which a pandemic literally shuts down our nation.

Unfortunately, this is the world we live in these days, and it has kept President Marvel and I on our toes. Our advocacy efforts have had to be very adaptive as we try to navigate the political landscape of both state and federal legislation pertaining to law enforcement reform. Reform is not a new thing for law enforcement, and it’s not a scary word. The truth is our profession is and has been in a constant state of reform. Always changing and adapting to new challenges. Always training on new techniques and tactics for better outcomes, both for the officer and the community. The difference is today the reform is about having less law enforcement and, in some cases, no law enforcement.

As our federal, state and local lawmakers debate these issues, many law enforcement agencies have had to re-evaluate their enforcement strategies. Proactive policing has been severely hampered, and consequently, crime is on a sharp increase, especially violent crime. To add to these challenges here in California, we have the added burden of zero bail and the early release of thousands of inmates from our prisons. For some reason, the news media and our elected officials are under the belief that everyone in prison or who is arrested does not deserve to be in prison and is not a danger to our communities.

With all the rhetoric about how bad police are and the protests, what is sadly forgotten is the victims — I will say it again, the victims! They have been completely overshadowed by every political pundit and candidate trying to seize the moment for their own benefit. Where is the outcry for the victims of the crimes these early-release individuals committed? Who stands up for them? Who is standing up for those victimized everyday as crime rates skyrocket in our communities? That is an easy question: it’s our law enforcement officers who swore an oath to protect our communities.

Even as we are maligned in the media and in the political arena, officers continue to do their duty. It’s that sense of duty that motivates our profession. I have said it before, but I am proud of our profession, and most of all, I am proud to have worked side by side with many hardworking officers whose dedication to their job and communities is unrivaled. Knowing the character of the men and women of law enforcement allows me to passionately represent this profession. I rest easy knowing that despite all the ugly rhetoric, our officers are still out there protecting our communities and will continue to do so. As for Brian and I, we will remain laser-focused on the Legislature to make sure common sense  is part of the discussion when it comes to reforms. As always, thank you for your service, and stay safe out there! 

Vice President’s Message

Damon Kurtz
PORAC Vice President

To say 2020 has been life-altering would be an understatement. We began it with a sense of optimism: After three years of negotiations on use-of-force reform in California, we had landed on a solution that we felt addressed the needs of the public and law enforcement with AB 392 taking effect in January and SB 230 set to go into effect in 2021. But by March, the COVID-19 pandemic was in full effect and we all experienced a complete shutdown of our country. Now, in the aftermath of the George Floyd incident in Minneapolis, we find ourselves in a national battle over extreme reforms to law enforcement at a national level.

I don’t have to write an article about the actions of the officers in Minneapolis; it goes without saying that we as law enforcement officers condemn what occurred. The media and some of our elected officials have used this incident to fan the flames of fear and anger across the country. To say there is an epidemic of police brutality is a gross exaggeration of the numbers. Law enforcement has millions of contacts a year, and a minuscule amount turn into violent encounters. The actions of the suspect are rarely taken into account and often dismissed entirely. This rhetoric has turned to calls for the elimination or defunding of law enforcement across the nation. For those of us who have sworn to protect the communities we serve, we find these arguments offensive and frightening at the same time. It’s rarely acknowledged that we live in the communities we serve. We know these proposals put our own families at risk as well as the public.

We have seen the evil that lurks in our society. We use metaphors to refer to our fellow officers as “sheepdogs” protecting our flock from the wolves that prey on our communities. In 25-plus years in law enforcement, I have worked in three different agencies and a multitude of different communities with different racial and socioeconomic demographics. In every instance, I can tell you the officers in those communities took their jobs as “sheepdogs” to heart. It didn’t stop when they logged off and went home — it is always on their minds. So much of what we do for our communities goes unrecognized because we don’t do this job for the recognition. Officers give every day to the communities they serve, on and off duty.

President Marvel and I have been lobbying nonstop with our elected officials at the local, state and federal levels. We’ve done countless interviews with the media, all in an attempt to force dialogue and rational discussions about police reform. I know that many of our members want to see us out front of the camera with an angry message. I have to tell you we are angry too. We would love to publicly show you and our supporters the anger and disgust we feel about how law enforcement is being depicted. Saying these things may make us feel better, but ultimately, we feel it would only embolden our elected officials to move forward with legislation without our input and dialogue to ensure the reforms are reasonable. Brian and I are using every opportunity to insert PORAC into the discussions being held at the state and national levels. I am very proud of my law enforcement profession, but this does not mean I am proud of some of the things that have been done by those in our profession. It’s not an either-or proposition. Similarly, the calls for defunding the police and funding other programs are not an either-or proposition.

I believe that society must decide what it wants from our profession. All of society’s problems are set at the feet of law enforcement to fix, often with no resources or training to do so. By and large, we do a pretty good job, but in the end, we are still human. The image of a police officer is glamorized in society through Hollywood and other media as the hard-nosed cop, edgy and ready to jump into action at a moment’s notice. We rarely see a softer side of the law enforcement officer depicted in the media. I guess a real look at police work would be too boring for today’s Hollywood. With numerous positive reactions in the public and hours of report writing, it doesn’t fit the agenda of today’s political climate. We all know that in reality, we have to have the ability to be the “edgy cop” in one moment and then be Andy Griffith in the next.

Brian and I will continue to fight for our profession alongside all of you. Thank you for all of your support, and stay safe out there!

Vice President’s Message

Damon Kurtz
PORAC Vice President

As we move into the summer months, there seems to be some movement toward a degree of normalcy. Businesses are starting to reopen and, hopefully, this means getting back to work for those who have been laid off. No one could have predicted the pandemic or the effects it would have across this nation, but the challenges to law enforcement are at the forefront for us here at PORAC. We continue to push legislatively for better testing of first responders and workers’ compensation protection should you be infected. With the governor’s executive order on workers’ compensation and the pending AB 664, I am confident we will be able to provide appropriate protection for our first responders.

Unfortunately, while there is positive news, there is also very concerning news. While everyone has focused on the pandemic, our legislators have been hard at work attacking the criminal justice system here in California. This is not a new attack, but what is different is how the “reform” is happening. “Never let a crisis go to waste,” our California lawmakers are taking full advantage of this crisis. With the pandemic at the forefront, a zero-bail policy was instituted, meaning the automatic release of most criminals arrested. Also, the early release of inmates in prison and county jails was instituted using the pandemic as the reason, stating the health of inmates as a concern. While many in law enforcement are aware of these actions due to media coverage, there continues to be a reshaping of the criminal justice system that seems to be flying under the radar.

With budget shortfalls looming, the governor has proposed the closing of two prisons in the state, which will result in the release of more felons into our communities. As if this wasn’t enough, the governor has created a “Committee on the Revision of the Penal Code.” You can find more information at clrc.ca.gov/CRPC.html. The committee is tasked with revising the penal code, specifically the reduction of prison sentences for most crimes. I would encourage everyone to watch the recorded meetings and voice your opinions to your state representatives.

Meanwhile, back in our local communities, our police officers and deputies are being asked to enforce stay-at-home orders. This is a no-win situation for our law enforcement community. Many people in our communities have become impatient with the speed at which the opening of businesses has gone. With so many at risk of defaulting on loans or simply being able to feed their families, tensions are high. Asking our officers and deputies to enforce what amounts to code enforcement violations is a recipe for disaster. If there is a new shutdown in the fall, it will put our members in a very tenuous position.

At PORAC, we are asking our police chiefs and sheriffs to focus on protecting our communities from criminal activity. Cities and counties should use other means of enforcement for businesses operating outside of state and local directives. The shutdown has created a financial crisis in this country that will renew the cry for pension reform and, most likely, budget cuts that will affect all our members. Just as it was in the last recession, we will again rely heavily on our communities for support in our local budget shortfalls. Will that support remain if we are active in shutting down our local businesses?

We will remain vigilant in protecting our members and providing quality services. Our training classes are set to resume soon to better assist you in the challenges to come.  Look for a newly developed peer support class later in the year and an advanced collective bargaining class. This class will be focused on current events and negotiating in a down economy. As always, feel free to contact President Marvel or me if you have any questions or concerns. Stay healthy and stay safe out there! 

Vice President’s Message

Damon Kurtz
PORAC Vice President

May is a time for law enforcement and our communities to remember those we have lost and for the names of those officers who have made the ultimate sacrifice to be enshrined on memorials so that we never forget.

Normally at PORAC, we are preparing for the California Peace Officers’ Memorial Ceremonies and our annual Legislative Day at the Capitol. Instead, these events have been canceled and we are going on more than six weeks of sheltering in place. Although this year’s events have been canceled, we at PORAC will still take the time to honor our fallen officers. At the same time, we will continue to push for better protections for the officers still on the job. PORAC continues to lobby our state and federal leaders for better resources for first responders. Our priorities include making sure first responders have access to personal protective equipment (PPE) and priority COVID-19 testing and making sure those who have been infected with the virus have a workers’ compensation presumption.

The disconnect with most elected leaders regarding what we do in law enforcement remains constant. This is why it’s so refreshing when you have elected officials like Assemblymember Jim Cooper, a former captain with the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department. It’s nice to have an elected leader who “gets it” when we approach him with our issues.

Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, we have remained focused on representing our members so that they can focus on keeping our communities safe. It’s our goal that we provide you with the best possible benefits here at PORAC.

As soon as the shelter order is lifted, PORAC and its staff are eager to get back to the business of representing our members. We will turn our focus to training classes that have been postponed and on this year’s Conference of Members at the Disneyland® Hotel. We have a number of training classes that we think will benefit the members; visit PORAC.org/training to see a list of trainings available. We are also in the process of developing a peer support class and an Advanced Collective Bargaining class. The Advanced Bargaining class will be held in October here at PORAC Headquarters in Sacramento. The class will cover issues related to negotiation in times of a down economy, which we are already hearing about due to the impact the current economy is having on contract negotiations.  

Although it was disappointing that we were forced to cancel this year’s Symposium, we have already begun planning for the 2021 Symposium, which will be held at a location in Dana Point overlooking historic Doheny Beach and the Pacific Ocean. We will once again host the POREF Open in conjunction with Symposium. After a few months of limited travel, I know I am ready to get our training and event schedule back to normal. I hope to see you at one of these events in the near future. 

Stay safe and healthy out there! 

Vice President’s Message

Damon Kurtz
PORAC Vice President

March started like any other month for us at PORAC. Our staff was focused on their normal duties, but mostly on Symposium, which was approaching fast. It’s important to us at PORAC to provide our members with a meaningful experience, whether it’s at a training class or a larger event like Symposium or Conference. This year’s Symposium would have culminated in our first golf tournament, the POREF Open, benefiting the Peace Officers Relief & Education Fund.

While at PORAC it was business as usual, President Marvel and I traveled to Washington, D.C., for our annual fly-in with the Executive Committee, ready to take our advocacy efforts to the nation’s capital. We began our trip with an Executive Committee meeting to conduct normal PORAC business such as approving membership applications, and to prepare for our meetings with our congressional and Senate leaders. At that point, on Tuesday, March 10, the coronavirus (COVID-19) was more of a white noise in the background. Although everyone was aware of the virus, there was not a noticeable worry felt by any of us in the room.

By the end of our trip, there was talk of shutting down the Capitol, and many of the elected officials were no longer meeting in person. My flight home on Friday the 13th was filled with people wearing latex gloves and protective masks, a stark change from the trip out on Monday. And as I write this article, we have a statewide order to “shelter in place” and people are desperately hoarding toilet paper for some reason. PORAC has had to cancel Symposium, the POREF Open and training events. To say it’s been a surreal month would be putting it mildly.

Although we are a nation in crisis mode, at PORAC we are still focused on representing our members. We know that it’s our first responders who will be leading us through this difficult time. Our elected officials and others will steal the spotlight, but it will be you who will provide a calming presence in our communities — a familiar face there to say, “Everything is going to be OK.” At the end of the day, our first responders will always answer the call. That’s why at PORAC we are busy communicating with the Governor’s Office and at the federal level for the protection of our members. We are requesting additional resources for agencies to provide personal protective equipment to our law enforcement and firefighters. We are pushing for additional presumptions for workers’ compensation as it relates to the coronavirus so that our members are covered if they contract it. Our members will be at a higher risk, and that needs to be recognized.

When the dust settles and a sense of normalcy resumes, we will continue to provide our usual services. Our training will resume and, although the 2020 Symposium is lost, we can focus on our upcoming annual Conference of Members in November at Disneyland. When we can meet again, I hope to see you at one of our events.

As always, if there is a way PORAC can assist you or your association, don’t hesitate to reach out to me or to President Marvel. Thank you for your service, and stay safe out there!

PORAC COVID-19 Resource Page