President’s Message

Brian Marvel
PORAC President

The California Peace Officers’ Memorial Ceremony last month in Sacramento honored six officers who died in the line of duty in 2017. The names added to the over 1,500 on the memorial were Officers Keith Boyer, Andrew Camilleri Sr. and Lucas Chellew; Deputies Jason Garner, Robert Rumfelt and Bob French.

As always, the ceremony was a moving event that paid respects to officers and deputies who took the oath, put the badge on and became part of the law enforcement community. The families of the fallen deeply appreciate our support and acknowledgment of their sacrifices. This year’s gathering appeared to be smaller than in years past, but no less important. And I’ve been proud to stand up for the families of those we’ve lost in the line of duty, so that they can receive the benefits, support and recognition they deserve. We must rededicate ourselves to the mission of supporting the families of the fallen, which is our solemn duty. We shall never forget.

While we were honoring these brave officers who heeded the call to serve, I couldn’t help but find it ironic that just across the street, legislation was being crafted that would further endanger peace officers or strip away their privacy.

State Senator Nancy Skinner has introduced legislation, Senate Bill (SB) 1421, that would increase public access to finalized police misconduct records and investigations into officer-involved shootings. She has said that transparency in cases of sexual assault, perjury, falsifying reports or planting evidence would reduce the “deep suspicion” many communities have of law enforcement. 

PORAC is all for transparency. In fact, PORAC last year introduced Assembly Bill (AB) 1428 by Assembly Member Evan Low, which significantly advanced the cause of transparency. The measure, held in Senate Appropriations, would have made public completed investigations into officer-involved shootings and serious use-of-force investigations. The difference between that bill and Skinner’s is that the identities of the officers, victims and witnesses would have been withheld for privacy purposes.

PORAC has met and will continue to meet with Senator Skinner and staff on SB 1421 to develop an agreed-upon system of transparency. However, until the peace officer appellate process statewide becomes more uniform, innocent officers will continue to be punished for simply doing their job. Be sure to read the Capitol Beat article on page 24 of this issue for details on why we oppose SB 1421 in its current form.

Nevertheless, I believe amendments can be made to ensure public safety and law enforcement’s privacy. We will continue to meet with Senator Skinner to find that middle ground to get SB 1421 over the finish line.

We thank the senator for her open-door policy with PORAC and other law enforcement organizations throughout the state. She was very active in reaching out to us as the bill was being proposed. Her approach to crafting legislation, especially of this nature, is a breath of fresh air.

This, however, wasn’t the case with AB 931, a measure that calls for changing the police use-of-force standard from “reasonable” to “necessary,” and only as a last resort.

PORAC adamantly opposes AB 931 and we are rallying everyone to come to our support. Not only would peace officers have to run through a mental checklist before using force but hesitating those crucial seconds before acting could jeopardize their safety as well as the safety of the communities we serve.

What is particularly aggravating is Assembly Members Dr. Shirley Weber and Kevin McCarty announced this legislation in April and rolled it out with great fanfare and never sought any input from the law enforcement community. It took them two weeks to get the language of the legislation out and then another week before they met with anyone from the law enforcement community. The only way we found out about the bill was from media calls before the press conference occurred. Weber and McCarty’s eventual meeting with law enforcement appears to be a check-the-box type of meeting just so they can say they met with us.

This legislation is so vague and unrealistic, its ultimate goal is to criminalize and second-guess an officer’s actions related to use-of-force incidents. Since the ACLU wrote this bill, this explains the pandering to the anti-police crowd who support it.

But, typical of our profession, law enforcement is solution oriented. We’re working to create something that’s more reasonable and doesn’t jeopardize officer safety with knee-jerk legislation. We will keep you posted.

All the best. Stay safe.

Vice President’s Message

Brent J. Meyer
PORAC Vice President

Safety was top of mind as we honored our Fallen at the California Peace Officers’ Memorial Ceremony in May. This was especially so for me because I had been invited to represent PORAC at the meeting of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Officer Safety and Wellness Group in April in Washington, D.C. There, law enforcement officers, executives and support services representatives — such as the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF), Concerns of Police Survivors (COPS) and the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services — gathered to discuss officer safety and wellness.

The group reviewed the results of “Making It Safer: A Study of Law Enforcement Fatalities Between 2010 – 2016,” which was prepared by NLEOMF. I was startled by most of the findings.

First, some good news. The report, which can be viewed online at nleomf.org/officer-safety/cops, found that the number of police fatalities dropped 10% in 2017, to 129, from 143 in 2016.

Other news, unfortunately, wasn’t as optimistic. Here’s what I learned:

  • 22% of officers killed in line-of-duty deaths in 2016 were not wearing body armor.
  • 52% of officers who died in line-of-duty auto crashes in 2016 were not wearing a seat belt.
  • Suspicious person calls were the second-leading cause of line-of-duty deaths in 2016. Domestic dispute calls were the first.
  • 5% of the officers listed on the National Law Enforcement Memorial died in “blue on blue” shootings, whereby they were mistakenly or accidentally killed by another law enforcement officer. (This occurs two or three times a year on average, mostly in training incidents.)

These are sobering and alarming statistics. Imagine the number of officers who’d still be alive today if preventive measures were in place and enforced. The working group discussed potential solutions, which recommended:

  • Agencies should require all officers in uniform, even those working the front counter of the police station or transporting prisoners, to wear vests.
  • Agencies should enact and enforce seat belt policies.
  • Agencies should conduct scenario-based training wherein officers are seated in a vehicle or perceived low-threat location (coffee shop or restaurant) and must respond to an unsuspecting ambush/assault.
  • In cases of suspicious person calls, officers should, when possible, request and wait for backup to arrive before making contact with a suspect.
  • Agencies should institute recognition signals or code words so that uniformed officers know who plainclothes or off-duty officers are.

 We also discussed the alarming rate of law enforcement officer suicides each year. The number — as compiled by Blue H.E.L.P. and Badge of Life, organizations that offer support to officers and their families and collect suicide data — is estimated to be 144 last year, compared with 119 officers killed in the line of duty. Separately, the Badge of Life, which has been tallying police suicides since 2008, says that the rate for police suicides is higher than that for the general population: 16 per 100,000 people, compared with 13.5 per 100,000.

The COPS Officer Safety and Wellness Group discussed these potential recommendations:

  • Chiefs and executives should foster an environment that removes the stigma associated with mental health issues and actively encourage officers to seek help if they feel they need it.
  • Sergeants and first-line supervisors should look beyond their day-to-day responsibilities to identify officers who may be in crisis.
  • Offer team-inclusive training on dealing with and working through issues together.
  • Expand peer support response teams (both in large agencies and regionally for smaller agencies).

It’s sad enough when officers lose their lives in the line of duty, but for them to take their own lives is unconscionable. We must do more to make it acceptable for officers to seek help for mental health issues, to let them know that they are not alone and that it’s OK to ask for help. If you feel like you are in crisis or think that someone you know might be, don’t hesitate to get help or intervene. We owe it to ourselves and each other to not suffer from the effects of this profession. The California Peace Officers’ Memorial Week and National Police Week remind us that our lives matter and that while we carry on for our Fallen, we still must watch out for ourselves.

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

Treasurer’s Message

Marcelo Blanco
PORAC Treasurer

PERS Investing in Unicorns and Rainbows


The California Peace Officers’ and National Law Enforcement Memorial ceremonies are fresh on my mind as I write this article. As always, they are somber occasions filled with grief and sorrow from the family members, friends and colleagues over the passing of fellow peace officers. Consequently, the events are a source of reflection on the inherent dangers of our profession. Regardless how long we have been peace officers and how invincible we believe we are, the ceremonies are a solemn reminder of our own mortality.

As the dignitaries spoke, I reflected on those officers’ last thoughts and interactions with their family and friends. Did they have time to share how they felt about their loved ones? Did they have the opportunity to share with their spouse, children or friends what each of them meant in developing them into the person they were? Do we take the time to do that today? It is important that we express as often as possible to our loved ones how we feel because we don’t really know whether that will be the last time we get to do so. As we focus on the families of our fallen officers in this issue, please take the time to reflect and strengthen your family ties.

The day following the California memorial ceremony, it was back to work. We were in the Capitol on our Legislative Day visits. During the legislative portion of the meeting, we had the opportunity to discuss PERS and its investments. It seems the Legislature is concerned with where PERS chooses to invest its money — whether the investments are socially acceptable. This ultimately means PERS is failing to meet its fiduciary responsibility to members. Yet, these legislators are quick to point the finger at CalPERS as the root of the pension evils when dismal returns are reported. This should be a simple discussion. CalPERS’ only responsibility should be to make as much money as possible for its member agencies and not worry whether investing in coal, oil, assault weapons or anything else is socially and politically unacceptable.

It is very interesting to note that the health of the fund is not the prevailing issue here, but rather the type of fund the money is being invested in. Unfortunately for our legislators, the “Unicorns and Rainbows” funds are not earning the returns needed to make PERS sustainable. However, since our state is beyond blue and potentially turning purple, we’re more concerned about what funds the money is in versus the return on those funds. Tobacco, oil, coal, weapons manufacturers may be politically incorrect, but they are generating positive returns, which is what PERS needs to achieve sustainability.

There is a silver lining in this picture. PERS is not required to divest from these funds. Even if divestment is mandated by law, PERS can argue that such actions would negatively affect its returns. However, everyone knows boards are susceptible to political pressure, which will ultimately affect the sustainability of their investment returns. As such, diminishing returns means an increased cost to the various agencies within PERS and, potentially, to taxpayers. I realize I am speaking to one segment of PORAC’s membership, because a good portion of our members are ’37 Act Counties or on their own systems. But, keep in mind that your county or separate retirement system occasionally follows suit or aligns itself with CalPERS’ actions. It’s incumbent upon all of us to keep an eye out and become vocal when our retirement system is making poor investment strategy choices.

AB 931 “Necessary vs. Reasonable” by Assembly Member Shirley Weber also was at the forefront of our conversations and member visits. Everyone in law enforcement is on the same page about AB 931 being extremely detrimental to our doing our jobs safely and successfully. Unfortunately, Assembly Member Weber is out of touch with reality and is a spokesperson for the ACLU (which supports the bill). She does not care about putting officers in harm’s way or meeting with us to discuss and create “reasonable” legislation that satisfies her constituents’ needs while ensuring the safety of our members. Plus, the majority of her so-called test cases is from out of our state.

Please remember to keep yourself, family and friends informed. It is imperative you do your part by attending your local chapter meetings and keeping yourself abreast of the ever-changing situation in our state. Information that affects us all is constantly flowing from PORAC and other sources. Your chapter meetings are the dissemination points for the information and your opportunity to get clarification on those issues. See you at your next chapter meeting.

Be safe and have fun.

President’s Message

Brian Marvel
PORAC President

Every May, we focus on honoring the service and remembering the lives of heroes killed in the line of duty. We begin by gathering in Sacramento for the annual California Peace Officers’ Memorial Ceremony, where the names of the six officers who tragically lost their lives in 2017 will be added to the list of more than 1,500 who have made the ultimate sacrifice since California became a state. This event is a wonderful opportunity for surviving families not only to see their loved ones’ names inscribed on the monument, but also to experience the assembled strength of our law enforcement family as we pay tribute to their sacrifice and let them know it will never be forgotten.

May 12th marks the beginning of National Police Week, when tens of thousands of law enforcement officers, survivors and supporters travel to Washington, D.C., from across the country and around the world for a series of events commemorating the more than 21,000 fallen officers throughout U.S. history whose names are engraved on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. In addition, the last Monday in May is Memorial Day, when we honor the members of our military who have given their lives to preserve our way of life. Together, these events remind us that freedom is not free — it is paid for through personal duty and sacrifice, both for the public safety in our neighborhoods and the security of our nation.

If you have never attended the memorial ceremonies in Sacramento or Washington, I highly recommend doing so. Joining together as a profession to mourn the loss of our brothers and sisters is a powerful and cathartic experience. You have the chance to meet officers from around the state, the nation and even the world, allowing you to understand how large and diverse our professional family is — but, at the same time, how much we share in common. In this difficult era for law enforcement, being there for one another is more important than ever, and seeing the outpouring of respect and support from those in attendance is an important reminder that the work we do is deeply appreciated by many.

We experience a lot of tragedy in the course of our jobs. Whether you participate in these memorial events in person or in spirit, this is a time for sober reflection. As we grieve for those we have lost and comfort others who are grieving, we should also remember to take stock of the things that truly matter. As peace officers, this can be an opportunity to review our practices and make sure we’re being as safe as we can be while carrying out our duties. Although the rising numbers of law enforcement deaths by gunfire are of grave concern, the second-highest cause of line-of-duty deaths over the past decade remains car and motorcycle crashes, which together have taken the lives of more than 435 officers since 2008. Even as seat belt use among the general public has risen to an all-time high of about 90%, among public safety officers it is still estimated to be around 50%. Of the 167 officers who died in fatal car crashes between 2011 and 2015, 63 were not wearing seat belts, and nearly half died in single-vehicle incidents. We face so many external threats that are beyond our control, yet there are nearly as many losses that could be preventable if we commit to following simple safety measures and avoiding unnecessary risks. I urge you to wear your seat belt, watch your speed, stay alert and do everything you can to preserve your physical and mental well-being.

Taking care of ourselves and each other is especially important when it seems that society at large is failing to prioritize that. We are contending with a new wave of protests and legislation in Sacramento that once again threaten to compromise our safety and challenge our ability to protect the public. Most dangerous is AB 931, from Assembly Members Shirley Weber and Kevin McCarty. This major legislative proposal seeks to criminalize law enforcement uses of deadly force, eliminating the standard set by the U.S. Supreme Court in Graham v. Connor that force be “reasonable” and requiring instead that it be “necessary” — a subjective term that encourages exactly the kind of second-guessing the Supreme Court rejected. This bill is still in its preliminary stages, but based on the legislators’ initial press conference, we and our allies in law enforcement are deeply concerned. Be sure to read the PORAC News Roundup and Capitol Beat articles in this issue for more details, and follow our social media for the latest updates as we engage in the legislative process to protect our members and the communities we serve.

Please keep our fallen peace officers, their families and all members of the U.S. military in your thoughts and prayers during this month and throughout the year. Stay safe and God bless.

Vice President’s Message

Brent J. Meyer
PORAC Vice President

Like many of you, we at PORAC have been closely following the repercussions of the March 18 shooting of Stephon Clark by Sacramento police officers. The event and its fallout are especially immediate for those of us here in the capital city, but the effects are reverberating throughout law enforcement.

Once again, the media has framed this as a negative story critical of police killing an unarmed black man, despite unprecedented release of body-worn camera video by Sacramento P.D. Less than a week after the shooting the department released footage from the two officers involved, video from the helicopter that directed the officers to Clark, audio of the initial 9-1-1 call reporting a subject breaking car windows, and audio from the police dispatch. A second batch of footage was released on April 16, including 23 in-car camera videos and 28 body-cam videos, two 9-1-1 call audio files and the rest of the video from the helicopter. Despite every effort at transparency and repeated calls for calm to allow the numerous independent investigations to continue, violent protests broke out in Sacramento and continued for weeks, disrupting a City Council meeting, shutting down freeways and blockading entry to the Golden 1 Center for NBA games. As usual, the intense focus has zeroed in on the actions of the officers, not the suspect. My opinion — biased as a Sacramento police officer, of course, but I can attest to having the same training that the involved officers did — is that their response was textbook and professional.

What Sacramento P.D. did after the shooting was the right move, demonstrating its willingness to be transparent with the public and offering insight into the procedures officers have to follow when making split-second decisions in life-and-death situations. The investigation is ongoing, even as you read this. Unfortunately, despite these attempts to show the other side of the story, unbalanced narratives were still broadcast far and wide by the media. Now this tragically negative anecdote is fueling a number of misguided and unnecessary bills in the Legislature. It is crucial for PORAC to stay on the front lines of this policy fight and the many different battles being waged within it.

One of these is AB 284, which originally proposed to take the investigative authority for officer-involved shootings away from district attorneys and create an independent unit within the state Department of Justice to handle such cases. Stating that OIS investigations should largely stay local, Attorney General Xavier Becerra himself successfully lobbied to scale back the bill to require a two-year study before establishing any sort of new investigative unit. Given the public response to the Clark shooting and his desire to be re-elected this year, however, it wouldn’t surprise me if he changed his position back to supporting the bill in its original form. Regardless, AB 284 clearly isn’t needed: In fact, we know that the attorney general already has the authority to review these matters, and the Sacramento police chief and district attorney have already invited  Becerra’s office to independently oversee the Clark investigation.

In the same field but on a different front, AB 748 from Assembly Member Ting would require the release of body-worn camera recordings as public records immediately upon request, or after 120 days if immediate release would impede the investigation. Again, this legislation is unnecessary as a response to the Clark shooting; Sacramento City Council policy already mandates release of all video associated with a critical incident within 30 days, and the Sacramento police chief released the footage in this case just three days after the incident. And finally, we have another impending battle regarding the yet-to-be-introduced “Right to Know” legislation, SB 1421, which would eliminate many of the confidentiality protections that members of law enforcement have within the Peace Officers Bill of Rights. This is just a retread of Senator Leno’s SB 1286, which, as you may recall, PORAC killed in 2016. It is no coincidence that the newspaper publishers and other media have been inciting their one-sided version of the Clark story, which powers the momentum behind such legislative measures that could benefit them for decades to come and feeds the news cycle at the expense of public safety.

In addition to continuing to work closely with our political advocates at Aaron Read & Associates to combat this latest wave of attacks in the war on law enforcement, PORAC recently brought together LDF attorneys to brainstorm ideas for how we can legislatively address the current climate and reinforce our positions in the future. Rest assured that we will remain vigilant in defending against irresponsible legislation that negatively impacts our profession, and proactive in putting forward real-world, commonsense solutions that make our state safer. We believe it’s possible to enhance public trust, accountability and transparency while also protecting the rights and safety of our officers who risk their lives each and every day in the service of their communities. Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, I fear that things will get worse for cops before they get better — both on the streets and at the State Capitol.

President’s Message

Brian Marvel
PORAC President

Last month, Brent and I traveled to our nation’s capital for a fly-in to meet with members of the California Congressional delegation and other policymakers. As the new PORAC president, I, along with our federal legislative advocates at Steptoe & Johnson, thought it was important that I introduce myself to lawmakers and outline our legislative priorities for the year, which were determined by the Board of Directors.

As soon as we landed, we hit the ground running. Before heading into back-to-back meetings, we were debriefed by the Steptoe staff. Darryl Nirenberg and Eva Rigamonti brought us up to speed on the status of several law enforcement–related programs and grants, and gave us an overview of the administration’s current policy priorities. As always, the Steptoe team did a wonderful job scheduling meetings with our representatives and providing us with the information needed to have productive conversations with lawmakers. I want to thank them for making my first fly-in as president run smoothly and efficiently.

President Brian Marvel and Vice President Brent Meyer visit the Department of Justice

Over the course of two days, Brent and I attended meetings with the offices of 10 legislators and several other policymakers, covering a long list of priorities that PORAC has identified with Steptoe as the most important to law enforcement in California and throughout the country. Of those priorities, we are actively lobbying and will take positions on legislation related to the following: preserving law enforcement pensions, fully funding COPS grants and other Department of Justice (DOJ) initiatives, dismantling human trafficking networks and assisting victims, and addressing gang proliferation and associated violence and crime. In addition, there are other issues of interest that we are monitoring and tracking, such as labor issues and the opioid epidemic, respectively.

One of our first meetings was with Russ Washington, acting director of the DOJ’s Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Office. Since its establishment in 1994, the COPS program has been responsible for advancing community policing nationwide and supporting the community policing activities of state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies through annual grants. Agencies in California and throughout the nation have benefited from COPS grants, as they have contributed to increases in hiring, technical training and the development of special task forces. Despite all the good that has come from such federal funding, President Trump’s budget request for 2019 did not address funding for the program, even though it had received $221.5 million in the 2017 fiscal year. Needless to say, our meeting with Mr. Washington was imperative to discuss the importance of funding the program. In our conversation with him, Brent and I shared examples of how these funds assist our agencies. We also discussed having more California law enforcement representation on panels, speaking at hearings and providing our expert opinions on the future of policing in America.

Brent and I also met with eight California representatives and our two senators. In each meeting, we reiterated PORAC’s position of actively maintaining and expanding funding for federal law enforcement initiatives, especially for grant programs that have been eliminated or have experienced funding cuts. In addition to COPS, we wanted to draw our representatives’ attention to other programs and grants crucial to the advancement and success of the law enforcement profession, such as the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program (Byrne-JAG), the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) program and the Body-Worn Camera Implementation Program. It is important that our elected leaders hear from public safety on the importance of these programs.

PORAC supports these programs because they are essential to ensuring that state and local law enforcement can effectively protect their communities. These programs are especially important given the difficult times our profession is under — with intense media scrutiny, lack of public support and so forth. Furthermore, researchers at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health recently confirmed that law enforcement is the most fatal profession in the nation, with officers three times more likely to sustain nonfatal injury than all other U.S. workers. With the uptick of mass shootings nationwide and release of inmates with violent pasts under Proposition 47 in California, the statistics make sense and offer a hard look at how dangerous our profession is and how support from our government is needed to give us the resources and tools to dismantle and take on such threats.

Overall, I feel that our fly-in was successful in that we not only put these issues at the forefront of our representatives’ minds, but also reminded them, and stressed, that PORAC is always available as a reliable resource on law enforcement–related issues. For more details on the trip, check out Steptoe’s coverage on page 28.

In Memoriam

We would like to offer our sincerest condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Police Officer Greggory Casillas of the Pomona Police Department. Casillas was shot and killed while in pursuit of an armed suspect on March 9. The 30-year-old was sworn in as a Pomona officer in September 2017 and was nearly finished with field training at the time of his death. At the time of this writing, so far this year, 16 law enforcement officers across the U.S. have been killed by gunfire. We hope that such tragedies remind our lawmakers about the dangers associated with being a law enforcement professional. Every day, public safety tries to make our communities safer. Rest in peace, Officer Casillas, your sacrifice will never be forgotten.  Fallen Officer Donations 

Stay safe and God bless.

Vice President’s Message

Brent J. Meyer
PORAC Vice President

The latter part of February and the beginning of March were busy months for Brian and me, as we represented and spoke out on behalf of our membership in our nation’s capital and in Los Angeles County. 

Focusing on Federal Funding

Brian and I recently concluded our spring advocacy trip to Washington, D.C., where we had in-depth discussions with lawmakers about funding law enforcement initiatives and supporting our officers. In his message, Brian covers most of the details from our trip, and I think an important takeaway from his article is that while PORAC advocates on your behalf day in and day out, our members (You!) still need to be engaged on state and federal legislation that can affect our agencies and the future of our profession.

For instance, the next retirement bubble is right around the corner for law enforcement in California, meaning that agencies will soon be hard-pressed to find candidates to fill the shoes of outgoing officers. As we all know too well, recruitment, retention and training are among the most underfunded programs in law enforcement, and it’s an enduring problem that has been affecting agency operations nationwide. PORAC has been at the forefront of this issue, advocating for more resources for our officers on the state and national level, but in spite of our efforts, departments are having a difficult time attracting prospective candidates due to the lags in pay, attacks on pensions and constant media scrutiny that loom over our profession.

What role can the federal government play in putting more officers on the streets and creating more long-term careers in law enforcement? The answer is simple: Federal funding equals more resources. On a structural level, funding can effect a culture change within this profession overall through revision of policies (e.g., use of force and dealing with mental illness), continuous training (POST), use of body-worn cameras, leadership development and much more. Those changes (while only a small example of what can be done) have the potential to attract prospective officers. One of the programs championed by PORAC during the fly-in was the funding of Byrne-JAG grants, which can be utilized for such hiring and training initiatives.

So, it’s important to stay on top of the issues and to be engaged in this dialogue. We encourage our members to write to us and sound off about the issues affecting your departments and how we can better advocate for our membership.

 

Supporting School Police

On February 23, I spoke alongside my PORAC Board member colleagues and our allies in education at the Rally in the Valley to Support Safe Schools in L.A. County.

For a recap of the Rally in the Valley, head to PORAC’s YouTube channel

The event was a response to a United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA) anti-police demonstration, “Making Black Lives Matter in Schools,” which called for the removal of Los Angeles School Police Department officers from L.A. schools. In their promotion of the demonstration, UTLA incorrectly labeled school police as racists in their policing of students (e.g., random searches of minorities only, metal detectors in low-income schools, etc.) and said that their presence on school campuses was unnecessary. Not only was their protest misinformed and misguided, but it was also damaging in that it attempted to divide rather than unite. The negative discourse that UTLA was spreading added to existing anti-police rhetoric and distracted from the conversation that we should be having on how to keep our children safe in a time when school shootings have become the norm.

When I took the podium, I was adamant in saying that there’s no worse idea than taking police out of schools, especially since a week before the rally, our nation experienced another tragic and deadly school shooting in Parkland, Florida. The bottom line is that school police play a crucial role in keeping our children safe. They are not malevolent forces who are there to harass or cause our students problems — like all law enforcement, they are there to serve and protect. And while their main objective is to foster safe and nurturing learning environments for our children, they also work alongside teachers to have a positive impact on students as mentors, counselors and problem-solvers.

I spoke of a couple of brief occasions when I spent time on a local high school campus filling in as a school resource officer (SRO). It was there where I learned the important role SROs play on campuses. Arming teachers while eliminating school police is the wrong idea. No one seems to be thinking ahead on this issue, as arming teachers and school employees would increase school district liability, call for ongoing firearms training for school staff and distract teachers from what they are supposed to do — teach! There would also need to be funding for such a measure. If school budgets for basic educational resources are already stretched well-beyond what’s needed to provide top-notch instruction for our children, what makes legislators think there will be money for the additional burden of giving guns to teachers?

Instead of considering the notion of arming teachers, we should be advocating for more police presence on our campuses and investing in the hard work that our SROs do in the unique role that they fill. PORAC stands with school police and will continue to champion their vital work of keeping our children safe. Click Here for a recap of the Rally in the Valley on PORAC’s YouTube channel

 

Treasurer’s Message

Marcelo Blanco
PORAC Treasurer

Social Divestment Is Socially Irresponsible

CalPERS has been in the limelight lately. Not only for its dismal returns in the past few years, but also for its investments in firearms. After the unfortunate act by a lunatic in Florida, there is a group out there stooping so low as to use shooting victims to try to shame CalPERS into divesting from firearms and other weapons. However, you can rest assured that our colleagues from the Corona Police Department have made it their mission to attend CalPERS meetings and express their dismay over divestment efforts. It seems that dismal returns are not enough for CalPERS to make decisions about what is warm and fuzzy versus what benefits its members and the agencies they represent. You, too, have the opportunity to express your dismay via the CalPERS website (www.calpers.ca.gov); simply click on “Contact” at the top of the home page and then share your concerns under the “Questions, Comments, & Complaints” option. Please take the time to send them your thoughts, as this issue also pertains to CalPERS’ efforts to divest from oil, the pipeline and other profitable investments based solely on the fact that they are socially unacceptable. This newfound effort by CalPERS to be a socially responsible investor has cost us billions. These are dollars that can be used to keep costs to cities and counties at reasonable levels.

Now that we have discussed the importance of keeping an eye on organizations that should be concerned with making money to help its members and their respective agencies, let’s talk about remembering our fallen brothers and sisters. We Must Not Forget our brothers and sisters who made the ultimate sacrifice. All of us can honor their legacy by checking the box on our state tax form to donate to the California Peace Officers’ Memorial Foundation Fund. It is imperative that we make every effort to contribute to this worthy fund, which helps the families of our fallen colleagues. Whatever amount you contribute is better than no contribution. Whether you prepare your own taxes or you have someone prepare them for you, please do not forget to check the California Peace Officers’ Memorial Foundation Fund donation box. (See page 36 for an example.) If you are one of the early birds and have already completed your tax return, you can go online and donate at www.camemorial.org by clicking on the “Donate Now” button on the home page.

Finally, please don’t forget to attend your local chapter meetings. PORAC represents over 70,000 members, and the chapter structure was set up to be a source of information to our members. Chapter meetings provide the opportunity to visit with and gather information about what your colleagues and the Board have been doing to prevent CalPERS from playing with your money, and to meet with the trustees of the Legal Defense Fund, Insurance & Benefits Trust and Retiree Medical Trust. For more information on the dates and times of your chapter meetings and on issues affecting your profession, visit www.porac.org.

Be safe and have fun.

President’s Message

Brian Marvel
PORAC President

One of my central goals as PORAC president is to utilize all of our communication resources to further strengthen the relationships between the Board of Directors, association leadership and, most importantly, our members. As part of that effort, we’ve been taking a close look at PORAC Law Enforcement News and how it can better serve our purpose.

This magazine is a powerful tool for delivering PORAC’s message directly into the homes of members around the state every month. It’s a tangible benefit of PORAC membership and a physical record of the tremendous work our organization is doing on all fronts to aid our members and advocate for law enforcement as a whole. But I think we can take even greater advantage of this opportunity to speak to our members and address your most pressing concerns, as well as recruit new members by showcasing everything that PORAC has to offer.

In February, Brent Meyer and I met with our publishers at 911MEDIA to discuss ideas for a new direction for PORAC LE News. All of us agreed that there are many exciting possibilities we can pursue to bring readers more member-oriented, strategic, professionally relevant and practical content in each issue. I’m pleased to announce that over the coming months, you’ll see us begin to roll out some of these changes to the magazine, and we hope you find them helpful and engaging.

How well do you really know PORAC? Outside of the Board messages and meeting minutes in each issue, how much do you see of what goes on behind the scenes of our organization? PORAC has a number of committees working hard to serve our members, and to help you get better acquainted with them, we’ll be turning the spotlight on each one in turn. This new series of articles will help you better understand what your committees are doing on your behalf and introduce you to additional resources for assistance with any concern you might have.

We also want to help you get to know one another better. With more than 70,000 members dispersed throughout every corner of California, it’s difficult for all of us to meet in person. Yet that broad reach is also one of PORAC’s greatest strengths, and we want to increase it by highlighting the diversity of backgrounds, experiences, perspectives and interests that make up our great membership. To start, we’ll be launching a series of articles profiling each of our chapters in numerical order. Our hope is that learning more about where and who your fellow members are — their challenges, their achievements, the issues they’re currently facing and how PORAC helps them succeed — will bring us all closer together and inspire you, your association and your own chapter as you navigate the road ahead.

In addition, we want to more accurately reflect the realities of law enforcement. To enhance the magazine illustrations, our vision is to build a databank of photographs of actual law enforcement officers performing their duties all over the state so we can show the amazing work that our members are doing each and every day. And, as Black History Month comes to a close and Women’s History Month begins, I’m especially interested in exploring how the magazine can honor and include the contributions of these and other historically underrepresented groups within our ranks, bringing a greater variety of voices to our conversation and manifesting the true depth and breadth of our membership. We hope to bring you more real-world stories of all kinds that share the many accomplishments of our fellow peace officers, adding to the narrative of all the great work being done daily throughout our great state and the nation.

That’s where you come in! We want to hear from you about the magazine: what you’d like, what could be improved and what kinds of articles you most want to read each month. We’re planning to conduct a survey of Symposium attendees on these questions, and you can also email your feedback to porac@911media.com. Please send us your story ideas and your photos of life on the job — and remember, the PORAC app allows you to easily send photos directly from your smartphone. If you have valuable expertise on issues relevant to our members, consider writing an article for the magazine. I look forward to hearing what you have to say.

We’re enthusiastic about these innovations, and there are even more in the works. Keep reading on the next page, where Brent gives you a look at how we’ll be integrating the updated PORAC Law Enforcement News with our other communications.