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! 

Treasurer’s Message

Timothy Davis
PORAC Treasurer

I think I am going to ramble a bit this month when it comes to my message. The first thing I want to do is remind you that you cannot make everyone happy. Regardless of whether we are acting as an officer, in an association leadership role, as a spouse, as a parent or even as a member of our community, our job is to do the right thing, not to make people happy. I am not saying to not be cognizant of how our actions affect other people. I am saying not to let how other people feel, or your concern for how other people will perceive you, prevent you from doing the right thing. In our society today, our actions are constantly being questioned and critiqued by others. Often, those doing the critiquing do not have the same information and understanding that you do. I admit that it does hurt when I read or hear negative criticisms of my actions. As long as we can tell ourselves that we studied the options, annualized the impacts and made the best decisions we could, we can hold our heads up high, knowing our heart is in the right place. We can still continue to learn and improve ourselves but be content in knowing that despite what the critics say, you did the right thing and did the best you could.

The next topic I want to talk about is the despair one can feel due to the upheaval we are experiencing this year. There has been so much upheaval in our lives: the virus, riots, anti-police attacks and a national election. This month we were supposed to be having our annual conference at Disneyland, “the happiest place on earth.” Instead, the conference has been canceled and our ability to come together as an organization has been blocked. PORAC represents more than 78,000 members in California, all of whom are suffering though these trials. Unfortunately, due to the virus, many of us are suffering alone. Not only has our conference been canceled, but many of you have had to cancel events in your personal lives. Vacations have been canceled, visits with family and friends have been limited, life events and parties have been postponed, and now, as we approach the holidays, our ability to gather with loved ones is in question. It is normal to feel odd or ill at ease as a result of all these changes. You may be feeling angry or depressed. Maybe even some of you are feeling happy and relieved by the isolation. Things are not normal, and so it is expected that you may not feel normal. If you are struggling, reach out. It is OK to reach out and ask for help. There are numerous resources available to you — your family, friends, clergy, co-workers, peer support team, mental health professionals or anyone else you can trust. It is not a burden to them. We all need to reach out for support when we need it and offer support to others in their time of need. 

The last topic I want to address is the election. I am writing this in the middle of October, and this election season is a dumpster fire. This election is going to shape our nation, our state and our communities for the near future. There are important issues at all levels of government. The information we are getting about the election from the candidates, the media and social media is so polarized and skewed. It is important that we put in the extra work to truly study the candidates and issues and elect those who we believe will best move our cities, state and nation forward. Make sure you vote and submit your ballot on time, and that you follow the proper procedures for submitting your ballot. I hope that once this election is over, that there is a clear winner, and that the winner is the American people. 

President’s Message

Brian R. Marvel
PORAC President

Normally, in even-numbered years, the stroke of midnight on August 31 ends the two-year session of our State Legislature. This year, as the evening got closer to midnight, I became more and more anxious for this session to end. When midnight passed and they were still working, it was quite nerve-wracking. The final gavel struck at around 1:30 a.m. on September 1.

PORAC monitors and takes positions on a wide variety of bills related to public safety, retirement and pensions, and this session was no different from what we have seen in the past — until the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Seeing all the hate and discontent being hurled at law enforcement, the ACLU, along with some elected officials, wasted no time in getting pen to paper. We have all heard the saying “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.” They took that to heart and tried to hit a grand slam in this COVID-19-truncated end of session. PORAC usually has a top five list of high-priority bills, but that changed pretty much overnight. It became a top 25-plus list. Of that list, 21 bills were gut-and-amends. Our usual end-of-session workload increased fivefold within days. Fortunately for us, we have amazing advocates working for PORAC, and we came together as a profession to fight the good fight.

As the bills crossed the desk to work their way through the abbreviated legislative process, we reviewed them and reached out to the authors, which we always do. Very few, if any, bills end the way they were submitted. Several authors of these bills were not interested in meeting with PORAC or other law enforcement professionals who would be impacted by them. They felt, due to the national dialogue around police reform, they would be able to run these measures through, irrespective of resistance and without any common-sense amendments. Our profession truly had to come together and fight hard to make sure our voices were heard and let our elected leaders know the detrimental effects some of these bills would have on public safety and our working conditions. As is always true in politics, you win some and you lose some. Overall, I think we were very successful in fighting back legislation that was ill-thought-out and unworkable, and would have jeopardized the lives and safety of peace officers throughout California.

When you have elected officials refusing to meet and confer on changes to a profession, that should throw up a red flag immediately! The good news is that the most detrimental pieces of legislation died in committee or on the legislative floor. Among these was SB 731 by Senator Steven Bradford. With last year’s collaborative approach to SB 230 and AB 392, PORAC clearly showed elected officials that we are more than willing to come to the table for dialogue about changes to our profession, but Senator Bradford was unwilling to meet and confer. His bill would have created a decertification protocol, along with eliminating qualified immunity. It wasn’t until about 10 days prior to the end of session, when the senator realized his bill was on shaky ground, that he halfheartedly attempted to reach out and have discussions, which I’m sure his sponsors, the ACLU, wanted no part of. Thankfully, SB 731 never made it off the floor. What is striking about his bill is that no other profession in the United States with a licensing process is subject to a commission where two-thirds of its members have a built in explicit or implicit bias against the person trying to keep their license.

One bill of note that did make it to the governor’s desk and was enrolled was AB 1506 by Assemblymember Kevin McCarty. His bill would create a division within the Department of Justice to review and make recommendations on agency use-of-force policies upon request. It would also require a state prosecutor to investigate incidents of an officer-involved shooting resulting in the death of an unarmed civilian. Assemblyman McCarty did reach out to us initially, and we expressed our concerns. We were neutral on the measure as it was originally introduced, waiting for Attorney General Becerra to weigh in. Then the assemblymember tried to take advantage of the national discourse. He amended his bill with this language: “…and would require the state prosecutor to conduct an investigation upon request from a local law enforcement agency, district attorney, city council, or county or city and county board of supervisors, on an incident involving the use of force by a peace officer that resulted in the death of a civilian.” You can see the political conundrum this creates. This would turn what should be a factual process into a political tool that can be wielded by activist politicians — which is ultimately his goal and, unfortunately, the goal of a lot of elected officials throughout California.

The six weeks leading up to August 31 were some of the longest and hardest of my three years as president of PORAC. I want to thank Randy Perry, Aaron Read and Michele Cervone of Aaron Read & Associates (ARA) for the incredible work they did on behalf of PORAC and our members. As I’ve stated many times before, I do not believe there are any other advocates in California equal to them. We should be extremely grateful that we have ARA on our side. I also would like to thank the Board of Directors, chapter presidents and PORAC affiliate SEBA for the immense amount of work they contributed to this effort. As I stated earlier, our profession came together, and I want to thank the non-PORAC-affiliated groups who worked just as tirelessly as we did, such as the CAHP, ALADS, PPOA, Cal Chiefs and the associations affiliated with the Fraternal Order of Police, among others.

We will continue to fight for and support our members in Sacramento and in Washington, D.C., especially when it comes to keeping our communities we serve and our members safe. I always say that as peace officers, we hate status quo and we hate change, but our profession is constantly moving forward and improving. Just in the 20 years I have been on the job, I have seen progress in technology, use-of-force policies, training and research. We also need to recognize that as police professionals, we must be guided by what our community wants its police departments to look like. With that said, our position has always been that we need to be consulted and have a seat at the table to negotiate what those changes will be and how they are implemented, and I do not believe that expectation is too much to ask from our elected leaders. Although we had some great success this year, I anticipate the next two years will be just as difficult, if not more so, regarding police reform bills. Lastly, if you live in L.A. County or know someone who does, please reach out and make sure they vote for L.A. DA Jackie Lacey. This is one of the most important races in the state of California.

I hope you have a happy and safe Halloween, in whatever form it takes this year.

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!

Treasurer’s Message

Timothy Davis
PORAC Treasurer

Each morning when I wake up, one of the first things I do is grab my phone. I start my day by reading though several news sites to see what is going on in the world. Next, I go through my emails. Eventually, I end up looking through my social media accounts. Often, I discover this is not the best way to start my day.

When I started using social media over a decade ago, it was to catch up with old friends and keep in contact with current ones. As my cadre of social media “friends” increased over the years, I realized that most of them were actually acquaintances, and I really had to think hard to remember how I know some of them. Social media has made for some very interesting relationships. There are people whom I used to only know vaguely but now know very thoroughly, due to their frequent posts. These are people I would otherwise have known only in passing in my normal life.

While Facebook and Instagram have given me deep views into my acquaintances’ private lives, Twitter is unique in its ability to give me detailed views of individuals’ thoughts on politics and events happening throughout the world. While both Facebook and Instagram are of a more personal nature, Twitter is an open political form. I follow politicians, news reporters, law enforcement agencies and fellow police unions. Very few of my real friends have Twitter, so nearly all of the people I follow are people I barely know. I follow them for the sole purpose of gaining knowledge about their views of the world. I often gain valuable information by following politicians and the news media on Twitter. Reporters frequently tweet information long before a story can be written, edited and posted on a news site. Politicians post their talking points, priorities and agenda in much more detailed versions than are covered in news stories. Just as Facebook can give you a deep view of a distant acquaintance’s personal life, Twitter can give you a deep understanding of the agendas and political feelings of those in power whom you interact with.

Social media can be used not only to glean information, but also to push out important information. Relying on TV and print media to push out information can be ineffective, in that the media strongly filters what you give them. Often, I find a detailed interview or carefully crafted press release turned into a story that sounds like “The cops are evil, but the union says they aren’t, but they really are.” Social media allows me to bypass traditional media and reach people directly with my full and unedited message. Many departments and associations are now finding that they can effectively communicate directly to citizens without having their messages edited by the traditional media.

While social media has its benefits, it can also be a place of danger. In our hyper-politicized world, I read many posts from both friends and strangers that cause me to have strong reactions. My instinct is to engage, correct their erroneous beliefs, set them straight and win them over to my way of thinking. Many times, I have written long, detailed responses, which, smartly, I have later deleted. I realize that by engaging, I will only invite point and counterpoint, never actually changing anyone’s beliefs or opinions. I do not recall ever reading a social media thread where the original poster has changed their mind after reading the counterpoint replies. There seem to be endless threads where people who disagree just argue past each other without considering the other person’s viewpoint.

As law enforcement professionals, we must be very careful what we post about and who we engage with on social media. An errant or misunderstood post can have devastating effects on you, your agency and the law enforcement community at large. Even if you think you are in a “private group” or communicating with “friends,” you are not. There is no such thing as a private social media group, and anything you post could easily end up being made public. Your post could get you fired, your agency embarrassed and the image of all law enforcement officers tainted. You may ask, “What about my First Amendment rights?” You have chosen to work for the government, and as such, your employer does have some control over your speech. As the Massachusetts Supreme Court wrote in 1892, you “have a constitutional right to talk politics, but [you have] no constitutional right to be a policeman.” Your employer does have a fairly broad right to control your speech, both on and off duty, especially if it reflects negatively on your department.

Regardless of whether your political beliefs are on the right or left, whether you love the president or hate him, no matter how eloquent you think your response is, I strongly encourage you to avoid making controversial posts or being baited into pointless debates. You are not going to change anyone’s mind, and it could wind up hurting your career. Do not post anything that you would not want to see screenshotted and posted in the media, or printed out and handed to you during an internal affairs interview. Personally, I am tired of all the political posts. I want to go back to the time when social media was about being social, and posts were just photos of people’s kids, pets and vacations.

President’s Message

Brian R. Marvel
PORAC President

In the past several months, our profession has worked harder than ever before to spearhead positive change in our communities, listen to concerns from residents and immediately call out unacceptable actions by members of our profession. Yet, you’ll be hard-pressed to find much from the media about the monumental strides our profession has made, from the groundbreaking formation of the new PORAC-led United for Positive Reform (UPR) coalition to our continued efforts to push for a national conversation about universal training, recruitment and use-of-force standards.

Instead, the media has taken what happened in Minneapolis and used it to spread misinformation, sensationalism and bald-faced lies about our profession in an attempt to tarnish law enforcement as much as possible and turn our cities into fend-for-yourself wastelands. One such article that made my head spin was a hit piece from The New Yorker by a Harvard history professor titled “The Invention of the Police,” in which she claims “two-thirds of Americans between the ages of 15 and 34 who were treated in emergency rooms suffered from injuries inflicted by police and security guards, about as many people as the number of pedestrians injured by motor vehicles.” You can imagine my surprise when the author, who failed to provide any sort of evidence to support this outrageous claim or mention where this information came from, received zero consequences for her clearly false claim. Instead, after enough people called out the deceitful rhetoric, The New Yorker finally acquiesced and placed a correction — a short, one-sentence blurb at the end of her 5,000-word tripe — that stated the passage was simply a “misrepresentation.”

This article is just one example of the constant attempts made on a daily basis to wreak havoc on our proud and hardworking profession. When radicalized and false messaging is pushed out and consumed by the public, it’s unfortunately no surprise when we see violence and harassment against peace officers erupt around the country. In the past few months alone, we’ve seen disturbing incidents in which officers have had their homes vandalized, their cars defaced for sporting thin blue line stickers and their children threatened simply because of their parent’s profession. Yet, this same media barely covers the violence against us and continues to use the misnomer that these protests are “peaceful.”

As a result of the noise from a very vocal minority, the “cancel culture” hysteria has been set on overdrive in recent months against anything that portrays law enforcement in a remotely positive light. First, the Paramount Network canceled Cops right before the premiere of its 33rd season. Then, A&E pulled the plug on Live PD (with the network seeing a 49% viewership drop and a loss of roughly $292.6 million in advertising since doing so). Now we’re seeing cancel culture rear its ugly head toward cartoon shows, with the popular children’s show PAW Patrol facing backlash, not from the kids who watch the show, but from grown adults, with some calling for the removal of Chase, the crime-fighting police dog, from the show’s cast of characters.

The insanity doesn’t stop there. The Northwest Film Center in Portland, Oregon, canceled its outdoor screening of the 1990 classic Kindergarten Cop (which was filmed in Oregon) over complaints that the movie “romanticizes over-policing in the U.S.” Finally, I recently read a post that had me shaking my head from an Austin, Texas, bike shop that decided to cancel its $314,000 contract with the Austin Police Department after three employees said they felt uncomfortable providing bikes to officers and didn’t like how officers were using the bikes to manage crowds. You can’t make this stuff up.

We are indeed living in a much different world than we were at the beginning of the year. Being a peace officer in California, and nationally, has never been smooth sailing, but now we are faced with more challenges than ever, thanks in large part to our elected officials being so afraid of the mob and so out of touch with reality that they’ve chosen to slash police budgets without thinking of the consequences and move forward with the push to let non-sworn civilians do the job of trained law enforcement officers. If this “reimagined” public safety solution ends badly, like the maiming or death of one of these workers, there will be blood on the hands of these elected officials.

As shown in the countless hours PORAC has spent working on positive change, we understand as well as anyone about the need to have important conversations on policing and public safety. True wisdom is knowing what we don’t know and recognizing that. Sadly, that lack of true wisdom is on full display in Sacramento!

With all the craziness that’s happened in recent months, there is still reason to celebrate. This month, as we celebrate PORAC’s 67th birthday, I can’t help but feel extremely grateful and humbled to be the president of such a tremendous organization. An organization that championed professionalizing law enforcement, protecting the rights of our members, and most recently creating the first-in-the-nation standardized statewide training on use of force, to name just a few. As we near 70 years as an association, please take a few moments to reflect on why you entered this profession and how all of us together can ensure PORAC remains strong for years to come. But make no mistake, taking law enforcement shows off the air, removing characters who portray police officers and shunning the hundreds of thousands of peace officers who serve and protect this country is no way to do it.

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!

Treasurer’s Message

Timothy Davis
PORAC Treasurer

When I started as a police officer in 1998, I remember senior officers telling me not to carry my baton because of the backlash against batons after the Rodney King incident.  While that incident occurred in 1991, the effects could still be felt in Sacramento, seven years later and 400 miles away. Police incidents around the nation are constantly molding our departments, their policies and the way we do our job. As law enforcement officers, the effect of societal pressures on our occupation often lands at our feet in the form of changes to our role as an officer, the rules or policies we are governed by and the tools we are given to do our job.

Changes seem to come in bursts, and there was a large burst that came at the beginning of my career. I remember being questioned back in 1998 by senior officers who were curious about why anyone would want to be an officer anymore, considering all the changes that were occurring in police work. As a new rookie officer, I was happy to be an officer, and I did not see any of the changes as obstacles.

Constant change has been a hallmark of my career as a law enforcement officer. In my first five years on the job, I experienced many changes. Our cars were equipped with in-car cameras (of the VHS tape type), we were required to collect traffic stop data on scantron forms for a racial profiling study, our wood batons were replaced with less visible metal collapsible batons, and we were issued tasers. In addition to equipment changes, we saw changes to our department policies, including changes to the use-of-force policy and the force reporting process, as well as more stringent controls over vehicle pursuits. Most significantly, a civilian oversight monitor was added. While there was a lot of complaining and pushback by the senior officers of the time, I remember thinking that the changes we were experiencing would not affect my enthusiasm for my newly chosen career. As a young, new officer, I was flexible and not yet set in my ways.  I was able to make the adjustments required to adapt to these changed policies and new equipment.

As my career advanced and I became more comfortable in my role as an officer, I also became more set in my ways and less flexible to change. The first time I remember feeling the desire to avoid a department change was when the department rolled out its computer-based report system. I had learned to write all my reports by hand, and I was not overly thrilled about writing reports on a computer. It was not an issue of computer literacy. It was about being told that I had to change something significant about my job. We write many reports, and I did not want to change something that I was comfortable with. Even after the change, I continued to write my reports by hand for another year until I was personally ordered by a supervisor to stop doing hand reports and use the electronic system.

As I have gotten older and more set in my ways, each new change has been more difficult for me to accept and adapt to. Now, after 22 years with the Sacramento Police Department, we have again seen incredibly significant changes to our department equipment and policies. Over the last few years, we have seen the addition of body cameras, less-lethal weapon systems and video releases, as well as changes to our oversite system and our use-of-force policies. I am now hearing again the same questions I was asked at the beginning of my career. The difference now is that it is my generation of officers asking our new officers why anyone would want to be an officer anymore, considering all the changes that are occurring in police work. I’m sure this generation’s answer is just like mine was 22 years ago. They are here to serve the community the best they can.

Change has always been a consistent process in our careers. We have evolved from the gumdrop lights on the top of the 1950s police car to the LED strobe light of our modern cars. We have evolved from call boxes to GPS-enabled digital radios and computerized dispatch. The roles, rules and tools of our profession will always be evolving, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse, but always forward. One thing is for sure — things will always change. We have the ability to adapt to these changes, but it is through our commitment to serving our communities that we will get there.

President’s Message

Brian R. Marvel
PORAC President

Back in June, the Board of Directors discussed re-establishing the Committee on Peace Officer Relations (COPOR), which was created a few decades ago to address diversity issues in police recruitment and encourage agencies to recruit LGBTQ+, people of color and women into the profession. I am happy to announce that the committee has officially been reinstated, but with a renewed focus: to bring diverse voices from PORAC members and the community at large into productive conversations to generate commonsense solutions for a vision of law enforcement that supports public safety.

I selected Executive Committee Director Marshall McClain to chair the committee and Inland Chapter President Rich Randolph as the vice-chair. They will make COPOR’s focus a reality with the help of a cultural caucus of law enforcement members from the Black, Latinx, Asian-American,  Native American, Jewish and LGBTQ+ communities. Together, they form the foundation of United for Positive Reform (UPR), a unique coalition of organizations and community members committed to establishing constructive relationships, finding common ground and generating commonsense solutions for effective systemic change. The group’s mission is to promote a more transparent and accessible vision of law enforcement that supports public safety while including diverse voices and addressing the need for meaningful and sustainable improvement of our profession.

By working alongside faith-based leaders, schools, social justice groups and other stakeholders, we hope to come together and use facts and information to make evidence-based determinations on what reform looks like. We endeavor to make sustainable change through education, communication and collaboration — unlike our opposition, who are creating fear, spreading misinformation, disinformation and propaganda by a willing media, and driving emotional arguments to encourage knee-jerk solutions, such as defunding and abolishing agencies, that do nothing to effect real systemic change or increase public safety.

Unfortunately, we will not get the media coverage like the anti-police protesters are getting because they are willing to say and do outlandish things. A lot of people in leadership positions are fearful of the protesters. As a result, the opposition’s emotional arguments are currently winning the day. However, while they are out there creating divisiveness and animosity, we’re providing reasonable solutions.

Now more than ever, we need harmony, and that is why it was pivotal for us to reinstate COPOR at this crucial time in our profession. The committee’s United for Positive Reform coalition will allow us to reach diverse audiences in various sectors of the community and foster a more inclusive relationship between law enforcement and those they serve, while also helping to further amplify PORAC’s voice on the state and federal levels. I encourage you to get involved in the coalition if you can. Please visit united4positivereform.org for more information.

Speaking of amplifying our voice, on July 8, I was among a small handful of law enforcement leaders who delivered testimony before the President’s Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice during a hearing on community trust and respect for law enforcement. In my testimony, I provided recommendations for how we can improve police–community relationships by improving police policies and practices: establishing national standards for recruitment, training and use of force; funding to implement those national standards; and programs and funding for mental health, addiction and homeless services. I am hopeful that our input has provided the commission with insight on how to better our profession.

In addition, we continue to speak with elected leaders in Sacramento and Washington, D.C., providing our input and information on a variety of bill proposals.

At the time of this writing, the Legislature in Sacramento has recessed. This was originally scheduled as a two-week recess, but it has now been extended to three, leaving us with a little over five weeks to address the more than 20 bills that will dramatically affect our profession in the state. We’re hoping common sense prevails because some of the changes being proposed will have substantial repercussions on officer safety, as well as our ability to ensure that the communities we serve are safe. The two biggest bills of concern are AB 1709 (Weber) and AB 1022 (Holden), which can easily be dubbed “cop-killer bills.” (See this month’s Capitol Beat article on page 38 for more information.)

On the federal level, we’ve had conversations with Representative Karen Bass regarding the Justice in Policing Act. We’ve provided our input and thoughts on each component of the act to not only her office but also Senator Dianne Feinstein’s, which reached out immediately for our input. In addition, we have requests to meet with Senator Tim Scott regarding the JUSTICE Act, his Senate bill on police reform. We hope that by communicating with Representative Bass and Senator Scott, we can provide rational and reasoned information on moving police reform forward at the federal level that will improve our profession and public safety.

In closing, you may not see us on Fox News or your local news, but the reality is that we’re talking to the right people at the right time to make sure our experiences, our knowledge and the work we’ve done in California are not overshadowed by other organizations that don’t necessarily reflect the high levels of professionalism that you see in our state. 

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!