President’s Message

Brian R. Marvel

PORAC President

No sooner did we kick off Police Week on May 13 than two California officers, San Luis Obispo Police Detective Lucas “Luca” Benedetti and Stockton Police Officer Jimmy Inn, were killed in the line of duty. These two officers dedicated their lives to serving and protecting their community and our nation. They were also true professionals, dedicated to their agencies, and hardworking who made their community safer for everyone. They served and sacrificed for a purpose far greater than themselves. I can think of no truer definition of a hero. May God bless Luca and Jimmy. We shall never forget the memory of our heroes.

POREF Receives Accreditation by National Charity Assessor Organizations

As we mourn the loss of Detective Benedetti and Officer Inn, it reminds me why the Fund a Hero platform is so important for our members. There are absolutely no fees if the platform is used for a line-of-duty death. With that said, we owe it to our members to make sure our charity fund meets the highest standards of accountability. PORAC’s Peace Officer Relief and Education Fund (POREF) recently received the Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar. In addition, we are working with Charity Navigator and BBB Wise Giving Alliance to meet their highest levels of accreditation.

If you are not familiar, POREF was formed by PORAC as a separate nonprofit public benefit corporation for educational, training and relief purposes in 1980. One of the main functions of POREF is the scholarship program, which is available to dependents of our active and retired members and the spouse or dependents of active members who died in the line of duty. The scholarship program is part of PORAC’s ongoing commitment to our members and their families. While scholarships are not limited to any particular field of study, we hope it will encourage young people to consider law enforcement as an honorable career worthy of pursuing.

PORAC is very proud of this program and the resources we make available to support the educational, training and relief goals of members and their families. Receiving accreditation by several national charity assessors helps us to reach more families by verifying POREF with their stamps of approval, allowing donors to rest easy knowing their donations are being used for the exact purpose they were given for.

Unfortunately, and far too often, bad actors will form their own police “charity” organizations that exploit goodhearted, caring and generous donors for personal benefit. My parents receive phone calls on a regular basis from a so-called police charity. This charity’s Form 990 had $3.5 million in income and $4.2 million in expenses. In the expense category, only $313,000 went out as grants, and stunningly, the management was paid $600,000. Another organization took in $3.2 million in income and only spent $120,000 in grants, while the rest was paid to the fundraisers.

We are working to create and spearhead federal laws to mitigate or eliminate, if possible, bad actors from police charities. But sadly, we know they exist, tarnishing our profession along with our ability to fundraise effectively. Rest assured that PORAC is doing everything in our power to eliminate them, and I hope our members and your families are never taken advantage of by these scams.

Please always check charity assessor websites to ensure an organization is legitimate. With POREF’s recent accreditation, we will be able to expand the reach of this incredibly important charity organization and provide even more officers and their families with the opportunity to pursue their educational goals. If you cannot support POREF, please support your local police union charity fund.

A Message From Congressman Richard Neal

In this month’s issue of PORAC Law Enforcement News, we are honored to have a message from House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.-1) on page 46. Congressman Neal is the sponsor of H.R. 2337, the Public Servants Protection and Fairness Act.

Congressman Neal’s bill seeks to address a problem that has long plagued law enforcement officers and other public servants, the Social Security Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP). The WEP reduces the Social Security benefits of anyone receiving a pension from a “non-covered” job where they were not required to pay Social Security taxes. Often, this means state and local jobs, including state and local law enforcement positions.

However, because peace officers tend to retire earlier than other employees and are more likely to begin a second, “covered” career outside of the public safety profession, law enforcement officers are disproportionally affected by the WEP. These peace officers deserve to receive the pension they earned through their service and the Social Security benefits they spent years paying into. And due to inadequate notification requirements, many public safety officers are blindsided by the reduction when it comes time to collect their Social Security.

The Public Servants Protection and Fairness Act fixes these problems, and Congressman Neal explains how in his own words in this month’s issue. PORAC is committed to the bill’s success and will be working with the congressman and our lobbying team to do all we can to advance this important measure through the legislative process.

PORAC’s Election Manual Approved

This past month, PORAC’s Board of Directors voted to approve a new election manual that outlines the policies and procedures for every elected position available at PORAC. Developing this manual was long overdue, especially for an organization our size, and I am hoping it will serve as a great resource for all things involving PORAC elections.

In creating the election manual, PORAC had two primary purposes in mind. The first was to compile in one place a comprehensive and thorough summary of the many duties and responsibilities of those in charge of conducting PORAC elections fairly and in compliance with our bylaws, standing rules, policies and procedures.

The second purpose was to provide members who may be interested in running for the first time with the information they need to participate in the process. Holding an elected PORAC position is an honorable and rewarding opportunity for our members, and we want to ensure first-time candidates have clear guidance on how to seek office. We also want to ensure that both first-time candidates and incumbents running for re-election are aware of and able to continue meeting the requirements, expectations and responsibilities we place on candidates seeking office.

As we continue to update and solidify our elections process, any candidate running for office will receive the election manual once PORAC becomes aware of their candidacy. In addition, we will be amending our standing rules to create an election committee that will be responsible for ensuring elections are run fairly and according to our policies and procedures and that candidates meet all requirements and obligations.

These updates will foster a more transparent election process for our members. Speaking firsthand, I can say with confidence that working to improve our profession and advocating for the rights and benefits of our fellow officers by taking a leadership role in PORAC is both an honor and an incredibly rewarding experience. I encourage our members to run for elected office and to bring their own ideas and experiences to the table as we work together to chart a new path forward for our profession.

Vice President’s Message

Damon Kurtz

PORAC Vice President

Summer is upon us, and it appears that the restrictions related to the pandemic are continuing to ease. Whether that’s due to science or politics, I will leave for another conversation. The easing of these restrictions means in-person meetings and the ability to travel for most of us. For me, the in-person meetings are a welcome change — to say I have a little Zoom fatigue would be an understatement. Getting to see everyone in person at chapter meetings and other events is a welcome change from the last year in our “virtual” isolation.

One of the perks of my job is that I get to speak to association leaders and officers around the state about what PORAC has to offer and how we can help their POA/DSA. As a former POA president, PORAC membership was something that I always valued because of the benefits and protections it gave my members. Whether it was the obvious need for legal defense or a disability plan that protected our members should they be injured, it was nice to know that my members were covered. This allowed me to focus on all the other issues that came with being an association president. We often speak to PORAC’s advocacy efforts, but there is so much more that PORAC is here to do for your association. 

I have written and spoke about it many times, but an undervalued part of membership is the ability to network with our peers in law enforcement labor. With the COVID restrictions being lifted, our PORAC training classes are moving forward and are in high demand, usually filling up quickly. We continue to look for opportunities to bring more training classes to meet the demand of the membership. One of the best opportunities for members to network is at the annual Conference of Members. This year will be in Monterey, California, from November 19 to 21. With all the members, panel attorneys and industry vendors, the event will sell out quickly, so be on the lookout for Conference registration announcements coming soon.

One benefit of PORAC I wish we did not need is the Fund a Hero program. Unfortunately, we see all too often our law enforcement families in crisis, or worse yet, officers lost in the line of duty. Just this past month, we lost officers in the line of duty in Stockton and San Luis Obispo. A tragic reminder of how dangerous the law enforcement profession is. Law enforcement associations were originally formed to take care of our member families in crisis and loss, created as “widow and orphan” organizations. It was in that spirit that the Fund a Hero program was formed to raise money for our member families in need. Fund a Hero was created with the intent to provide a level of protection from fraud that can happen from other platforms and offset some of the unavoidable fees associated with fundraising by paying for the first $10,000 in fees. No amount of money can replace our loved ones, but making sure the families of our fallen officers are financially taken care of should be a priority for us all. Regardless of the platform used, I encourage you to support these efforts if you can by visiting PORAC.org/fund-a-hero. I hope to see you all soon and as always, stay safe and healthy out there. Take care.

Treasurer’s Message

Shawn Welch

PORAC Treasurer

Liability of Bad Investments

“The City of Purple Police Officer Association (CPPOA) has saved a large amount of money, $500,000, over the past four years. The board of directors came up with a plan for each of the 100 members to pay an extra $100 per month for four years. This would allow them to place $500,000 into savings and have it be used for political aspirations, morale and welfare of members, emergency situations and board-directed projects. The members voted to move forward with the plan, and after four years, they were all excited to have accomplished their goal.

Two months after finishing the plan, the CPPOA treasurer decided they should invest 50% of the money. The investment would be able to expand on what they have accomplished and grow their funds. The treasurer started to read The Wall Street Journal and numerous blogs on the internet about investing. After his one week of investment knowledge, he thought he found a perfect investment. There was a new type of investing that was not governed by rules, and you did not need to pay a broker. He was going to be able to just handle everything himself. Plus, people were making quick money and had returns of 10–40%. The treasurer presented the plan to the board of directors, and they all were excited about the plan, except for the newest member, Jim. Jim wanted the board to consult with a broker or go through a financial firm. The treasurer advised the board that there was no stipulation on what they did with the money per the bylaws. The board voted to move forward with the treasurer’s plan.

After three months of investing, the treasurer had gained 15%. He was ecstatic and planned on preparing a report to the board for their next meeting once he got off work at 4 p.m. The treasurer arrived at home and logged on to the account, and his stomach sank to his feet. He thought, ‘What the f***.’ That morning he checked the investments, and they were up by 15%, but now the investments were negative 120%.”

Obviously, the above story is not true, and probably not the fictitious story you have read this year or ever. The purpose was to give an example of what can happen if a police union board of directors does not have a clear policy on how they invest the association financials. I am sure most police unions have a statement in their bylaws about fiduciary responsibility for the funds of the association. This might not be enough to stop a board from investing in high-risk markets or cryptocurrency.

Why are high-risk markets or cryptocurrencies not fiduciary responsible? Because it’s not the board’s money is the simple answer. The board of directors has the responsibility to ensure the association can meet its obligations of negotiating for pay, benefits and working conditions. If you lose your money by making bad financial decisions, then you are not being responsible.

Recently, an association in California decided to invest in Bitcoin despite it being a “highly volatile asset.”1 At the time of investment, Bitcoin was at approximately $50,000 and is now at just over $38,000. The association also requested cryptocurrency donations from the public, as well as Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Mark Cuban and Jack Dorsey.2 The board of directors said they “took careful consideration” to invest in “a very aggressive investment.” At the time of the decision, Bitcoin was approximately $63,000, but the president said, “We were lucky that a market correction occurred, and we were able to buy Bitcoin at a lower price. I like to say at a discount!” One month later, I wonder if they still feel lucky about the correction.

On May 19, UBS editorial wrote that the China government would prohibit financial institutions from providing services related to crypto transactions. The official statement added that speculative activity in cryptos was “seriously infringing on the safety of people’s property and disrupting the normal economic and financial order.” The basic function of modern currency is to store value and act as a medium of exchange. The high volatility of cryptos makes them unreliable when it comes to storing value.

This takes me back to the point of the CPPOA story. As board of directors, it is your responsibility to be fiduciarily responsible for the financials of the association. You should never be making risky decisions with association money because it is not yours. Therefore, it is important to have a bylaws rule to stop the association and board of directors from making this type of mistake. Try to remember, we are not billionaires and don’t have $1 million to lose or even $1,000. Contact a financial advisor and allow them to make the investments based on your goals.

President’s Message

Brian R. Marvel

PORAC President

This month is an important but somber time for our law enforcement community as we recognize National Police Week (May 9–15) and National Peace Officers Memorial Day (May 15), paying special recognition to those law enforcement officers who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty for the safety and protection of others.

This year alone, our national law enforcement community has lost 103 officers in the line of duty (these numbers include COVID-related deaths), per the Officer Down Memorial Page. In 2020, we lost 360 officers and the year before, 150. As frontline workers and first responders, COVID-19 has also taken the lives of many of our co-workers in the law enforcement community since the onset of the pandemic, with at least 287 reports of COVID-related officer deaths — making 2020 one of the deadliest years on record for law enforcement. During National Police Week, we celebrate the lives of our fallen officers and honor their service and sacrifice to their community and country. It is also a time to reflect on how to keep our officers safe as they carry out their duties.

The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF), an organization dedicated to telling the story of American law enforcement and making it safer for those who serve, has been tracking officer fatalities for decades and working to improve the health and safety of officers. NLEOMF has recorded 1,627 line-of-duty deaths in the past decade — with the top three leading causes of death being firearms-related fatalities, job-related illnesses and automobile crashes. As we honor our fallen heroes, it is important we take every step we can to make our inherently dangerous profession as safe as it possibly can be. With that said, wearing your seatbelt is a simple step you can take to increase your chances of surviving an accident and reducing the number of line-of-duty deaths.

Every day, California’s officers put themselves in harm’s way to protect and serve our communities — that is the oath we’ve sworn to uphold. But we should still do everything we can to protect ourselves and our fellow officers by conducting ourselves in the safest possible manner. I know it has been said a thousand times before, but please wait for backup and do not face dangerous situations alone unless it’s an absolute necessity, like an active shooter or saving a fellow officer. Even seemingly simple practices, such as always wearing
a vest or watching your speed, can be some of the most effective ways to save the lives of both officers and the public.

PORAC, Commission on Peace Officers Standards and Training (POST), U.S. DOJ, along with NLEOMF and other organizations nationwide, are working to offer programs and resources that effectively improve overall officer wellness and reduce line-of-duty injuries or deaths — like NLEOMF’s Destination Zero, POST’s Officer Wellness training program, U.S. DOJ’s Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act (LEMHWA) Program and other various initiatives local departments in California and around the country are spearheading. The law enforcement profession faces new challenges and hardships every day, which is why PORAC continues to advocate at the state and federal levels for more resources, training and new programs to create increased educational opportunities for officers.

PORAC values our members’ health and safety. It is extremely heartbreaking each and every time I see an officer who has lost their life in the service of others, and I know you feel the same way. That is why it is so important to take time this month to truly observe National Police Week and National Peace Officers Memorial Day to reflect on those we have lost, and to commit to the actions we can each take as individuals to improve safety on the job. PORAC honors these officers and sends our most sincere gratitude and condolences to their families, not only this month as we recognize law enforcement for their service, but every day as we advocate for the protections and rights of the men and women in law enforcement. We must never forget their sacrifice.

As I write this article, America has administered more than 200 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine. With the increased vaccine distributions we have seen recently, we hope that 2021 will be a better year for our nation and our officers, and we look forward to returning to a pre-COVID normal where we can finally meet, grieve, have discussions and learn from each other in person.

For our members, if you or someone you know has been impacted by a line-of-duty death or near-fatal injury, PORAC’s Fund a Hero in-house fundraising platform is here to help provide financial relief to officers and their families. Fund a Hero assists members in setting up fundraising campaigns that will ensure nearly every cent contributed by donors goes directly to the intended recipient. Fund a Hero allows our members to rest easy knowing that your campaigns, donations and payouts are not being overseen by a faceless non-law-enforcement entity, but by real people at PORAC Headquarters who care about our members. You can learn more about Fund a Hero and register your campaign at PORAC.org/about-fund-a-hero.

Lastly, due to the ongoing restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as increased security measures in Washington, D.C., NLEOMF will be hosting virtual events during National Police Week from May 9–15, including a Virtual Candlelight Vigil on May 13. We hope our members can join PORAC in honoring fallen officers during this virtual event. In addition, NLEOMF will be hosting in-person events from October 13–17 in Washington, D.C. You can learn more about the virtual and in-person events on NLEOMF’s website at nleomf.org/programs-events/national-police-week. Unfortunately, the California Peace Officers’ Memorial Foundation’s usual ceremonies held in Sacramento have been canceled this year. As always, we thank you for your service and commemorate those who have paid the ultimate price.

Vice President’s Message

Damon Kurtz

PORAC Vice President

As I write this article, many of the COVID restrictions are easing and we are moving closer to reopening California. This means that we will have the ability to hold in-person meetings, trainings and events. Aside from the LDF, IBT and RMT, one of the best benefits of being a member of PORAC is the ability to network with your peers across the state. The COVID lockdown has severely hampered our ability to meet with one another and stay current on the issues we face. As an association leader or simply a member who wants to be more engaged, PORAC strives to provide opportunities for you to learn from and strategize with your peers in law enforcement labor. It’s not uncommon to see associations making public statements on issues in which the information may be outdated or factually incorrect. In this era of hyper-scrutiny of law enforcement, it’s incredibly important to not only be factually correct, but to also speak on the issues with a united voice. In my opinion, our collective voice is what makes us truly effective in our advocacy of law enforcement. The challenge we face as association leaders in a large state with a diverse population is that it can be difficult to find common ground on the issues we are all facing. Being active with our peer organizations helps us face these challenges, and a good way to do this is by attending PORAC chapter meetings.

Chapter meetings are now moving away from virtual and back to in-person meetings. Although the use of virtual meetings has proven to be a useful tool, I do not believe they are as effective as in-person meetings. These meetings are essential to PORAC, as we need to hear from all of our member associations large and small. There is no “one size fits all” solution to law enforcement, and we use the information gathered at these meetings to help craft our advocacy efforts at the state and federal legislatures.  Although there are still some associations that seek to put their individual organization’s name above the collective voice of law enforcement, at PORAC, we will continue to represent all our members through a statewide lens. Brian and I, as well as your local representative on the Board of Directors, will be at these chapter meetings. We look forward to hearing from you and gaining the insight of your perspective on the issues to help us navigate these challenging times.

Providing a wide variety of training classes is another benefit to our membership organizations. PORAC took advantage of the shutdowns to re-evaluate many of our training classes. Some course curriculums have changed as well as the instructors who teach the classes. New classes will be presented this year in a Peer Support class, and we have partnered with Force Science to bring the two- and five-day certification courses to the membership. These classes provide an excellent opportunity to learn something new while networking with your peer association leaders. This year, we have also revamped the PORAC Labor Relations Program (LRP). The LRP is basically a scholarship program for small associations of 30 members or fewer that otherwise do not have the resources to send their members to training classes. PORAC covers the costs associated in attending these classes for those organizations. The classes have been historically limited to the Leadership and Basic Collective Bargaining classes. This year, PORAC has expanded the LRP to include our other classes offered. Lastly, this year’s Conference of Members is slated to take place in Monterey on November 19–21. Attendance will be in high demand, so keep an eye out for registration — it will likely sell out quickly. As always, stay safe and healthy out there!

Treasurer’s Message

Shawn Welch

PORAC Treasurer

Take a deep breath and slowly push out. First off, PORAC’s UBS performance as of April 23. Our UBS investment total assets are $18,109,956 with a performance of +6.81%.

Over the last several days, PORAC’s Executive Board and association leaders have conducted over 25 meetings with California House representatives, senators and committee chairs for the U.S. House of Representatives. In the meetings, we spoke on commonsense and long-lasting police reform, law enforcement funding initiatives, Social Security reform for public employees and lowering the Medicare eligibility age for first responders. The meetings were extremely productive and allowed for some much-needed face time with our representatives in the U.S. Capitol.

So what was all that money talk about? Obviously, law enforcement funding initiatives such as Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grants (Byrne JAG), Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grants, High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) programs and Body-Worn Camera (BWC) pilot programs. PORAC’s position is to support maintaining and expanding funding for these essential grant programs, and we will actively resist efforts to cut funding. PORAC also actively opposes efforts to place cumbersome and counterproductive policy strings to funding, especially at a time when law enforcement agencies need funding to implement effective reform. Thus, PORAC has asked members of Congress to maintain and expand law enforcement funding and to not allow counterproductive restrictions, or “strings attached,” on funding.

The Social Security reform for public employees is extremely important to our members who have had a career prior to becoming a public employee or who plan on having a second career after they retire. Currently, workers who have contributed to Social Security and split their careers between public service and private jobs do not receive a full Social Security benefit. Since the 113th Congress, PORAC has actively supported legislation that recognizes the Social Security Act’s debilitating Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and Government Pension Offset (GPO). Currently, there are two bills in the House that would correct these provisions — the Social Security Fairness Act (H.R. 82) and the Public Servants Protection and Fairness Act (H.R. 2337). H.R. 2337 also forces transparency of the WEP program, so it is not a surprise to public employees upon retirement.

Final word: Based on what is going on in America with regard to relationships between law enforcement and the community, I ask that you protect each other on every call for service. Do not try to handle anything on your own and always have a partner with you. Leaders, be prepared to deal with the worst type of incident you can imagine and reach out to fellow leaders for assistance. We are still a law enforcement family, and family should always take care of each other.

President’s Message

BRIAN R. MARVEL

PORAC President

As our nation works together to bridge the divide between America’s communities and the men and women of law enforcement, PORAC is committed to leading the way forward. We recognize that political differences are a substantial barrier and some organizations are reluctant to engage in those discussions, but we believe our country can overcome its deep political divisions. We are willing to have those difficult conversations, because PORAC is about crafting good policy, not about making headlines. PORAC is the preeminent voice for California law enforcement and the largest statewide law enforcement association in the nation. We have a responsibility to use our voice to help change the narrative around policing in America, and to communicate the incredible value of a PORAC membership for California’s peace officers, active or retired.

That is why we cannot understate the value of PORAC’s branding and communications efforts — the power of our voice is directly tied to the visibility and credibility of our organization. Raising awareness of PORAC’s brand and reputation puts us in a stronger position to more effectively advocate for our members, recruit new members and grow this association to increase our influence at the state and national levels.

The law enforcement profession is facing new challenges. We have seen attitudes, tones and aggressions change toward law enforcement. Disrespect toward peace officers has become a cultural norm nationwide — making a difficult and complicated job even more complex. By increasing PORAC’s name recognition through sponsorships, ads, op-eds, podcasts, media interviews and more, we can help to facilitate a cultural shift in the way law enforcement is viewed by members of the public. Not only does this place California’s officers in a better position to serve our communities, but it also signals to elected officials, decision makers, community activist groups and others that PORAC must have a seat at the table when it comes time to negotiate the new laws and policies that can have a significant impact on our members’ ability to carry out their duties safely and effectively.

Our stated goal for 2021 is to consistently seek new and innovative opportunities to promote our brand and what we stand for in front of the widest possible audience. That is why PORAC is pleased to be partnering with Mike Harmon Racing as the primary sponsor of the #47 Chevrolet Camaro driven by Kyle Weatherman. The PORAC Camaro, decked out as a police car, is being showcased in two races, one last month and one in September at the Alsco Uniforms 302 in Las Vegas. By capitalizing on last year’s show of support for law enforcement professionals at the Homestead-Miami Speedway with this new partnership, we can build greater support for law enforcement and shine a light on the work PORAC is doing to advance the interests of the profession, not only in California but nationally.

Another objective of PORAC’s communications and branding efforts is to ensure that current and prospective members are aware of the value of a PORAC membership and the benefits that come with it. PORAC members have access to a suite of benefits, ranging from legal assistance to insurance to our Fund a Hero (FAH) program, which helps to raise money for the families of those who have paid the ultimate price for their service, and our Hazardous Exposure Listing Program (HELP), which enables you to protect your own health. These are benefits California’s officers will not find anywhere else and should be taking full advantage of.

Generating awareness and promoting the value of PORAC through innovative branding and communications initiatives, like our participation in NASCAR’s Xfinity Series, increases our ability to bring new members into the fold and go to bat for our members when it is needed most. The larger and more representative of California’s peace officers PORAC is, the louder our voice becomes. One of the best ways to magnify that voice is with supporters of law enforcement outside of our family and friends — those individuals willing to speak up on our behalf.

As we seek to increase PORAC’s footprint both within California and nationally, we are also working to revamp our website. Our website is the face of our organization, and we want to ensure that anyone who visits it receives a clear picture of who PORAC is and what we stand for. We are also making major shifts to increase our ability to foster two-way communication within each of our unique PORAC chapters. The chapter landing pages will be housed on the improved PORAC website. Each chapter will have its own distinctive logo and be representative of the uniqueness that it brings to PORAC. The more we hear from you, the better informed we are about what matters the most, which in turn makes us more prepared to advocate and represent the interests of our profession.

All our efforts at PORAC are for our members, and our branding and communications program is no exception. We work with some of the best and brightest in the field to showcase PORAC as a forward-looking leader in law enforcement, and we must continue to proactively communicate the value PORAC brings to California peace officers and communities. If we do not tell our story, someone else will tell it for us. As always, thank you for your support and your dedication to the mission and values of our profession.

Vice President’s Message

Damon Kurtz

PORAC Vice President

Legislative games are in full swing at the State Capitol once again. What was once a rare occurrence from only a few select legislators has now become the norm. The good news is that PORAC leadership and our advocates are prepared to challenge any bad legislation as it comes forward. One of the biggest challenges we face as law enforcement advocates is that we are morally and ethically bound to speak the truth in our representation of prospective legislation. These same rules do not apply to those who seek to defund and destroy the law enforcement profession. There is no requirement to swear an oath to testify truthfully in any committee at the Legislature and, as we know, the media operates in the realm of fiction in their reporting practices. They would have everyone believe that misconduct is rampant in the law enforcement profession. We all know this to be blatantly false. But even though we are playing by different rules, that does not mean we cannot be effective in changing this narrative.

Politics is a participation sport, and it requires all of us to be engaged to be successful. This does not mean you have to be an association leader to help. It truly starts with each individual officer and their daily interactions. We must be better in our communication with the public. Take the time to educate during our citizen contacts about law enforcement. As associations, we must be better engaged with our elected officials, from the school board to the federal level. I know I’m a broken record on politics, but we need everyone to be more engaged, from new academy graduates to our most seasoned veterans.

I hear way too often from association leaders, “I don’t like politics.” My response is: “Who does?” It is a necessary evil in any profession. It can be tedious and time-consuming, but if we do not cultivate relationships, our message often falls on deaf ears and leads to animosity. These relationships affect everything from your prospective contract negotiations to state and federal legislation. In many cases, I see the focus on our elected officials only during negotiations, and too often our relationships are focused on only those who agree with us on issues. While it’s important to keep those relationships strong, I would argue that more time should be devoted to those we disagree with. What has been lost in society today is the ability to sit down and work through our differences. Many of the issues we are dealing with do not need legislation, just a cooperative approach. As we navigate through the legislation on police reform, we need to remind everyone that we all want the same thing: safer communities and better outcomes in our interactions with the public. Unfortunately, there are those who have perverted legislative reforms into their personal vendettas against law enforcement. There is so much mistrust in how law enforcement is viewed today, and rather than looking for blame, we need to look for ways to create that trust. I harp on relationship-building with your prospective elected leaders because these relationships help us in PORAC’s advocacy efforts. Many of you already do an amazing job in your outreach efforts, and I thank you.

PORAC’s effectiveness comes from our member associations and our individual members. Representing so many in law enforcement, from patrol officers to specialized policing groups, allows us to bring a singular voice to our advocacy efforts. In the coming months, we will once again call upon you to help with those efforts. We may call upon you to attend a virtual meeting with a legislator or rally your friends and family to send letters and emails. Whatever the request, I am confident that we will come together as a team and rise to the challenge. As always, stay safe and healthy out there!

Treasurer’s Message

Shawn Welch

PORAC Treasurer

April is always a fun month for everyone. In doing research on what to write about, I looked up all the holidays in April. I discovered there is a holiday for just about everything. What does this have to do with being a treasurer or money? I will answer that after listing out the holidays.

April 1: April Fools’ Day, Major League Baseball Opening Day, Maundy Thursday and National Burrito Day. April 2: Good Friday, National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day, and World Autism Awareness Day. April 3: National Find a Rainbow Day and World Party Day. April 4: Easter, International Carrot Day, National Hug a Newsperson Day, Qingming Festival and Tell a Lie Day. April 5: National Deep Dish Pizza Day. April 6: National Siamese Cat Day, National Sorry Charlie Day, National Student Athlete Day, National Tartan Day and New Beer’s Eve. April 7: National Beer Day, National No Housework Day, National Walking Day and World Health Day. April 8: National Empanada Day. April 9: National Name Yourself Day, National Unicorn Day and National Winston Churchill Day. April 10: National Hug Your Dog Day and National Siblings Day. April 11: National Barbershop Quartet Day, National Eight-Track Tape Day, National Pet Day and National Submarine Day. April 12: National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day. April 13: International Be Kind to Lawyers Day, National Make Lunch Count Day, National Peach Cobbler Day and National Scabble Day. April 14: National Ex-Spouse Day, National Gardening Day and National Look Up at the Sky Day. April 15: National High Five Day, National Laundry Day and Tax Day. April 16: National Eggs Benedict Day, National Librarian Day, Selena Day and Wear Pajamas to Work Day. April 17: Husband Appreciation Day, International Bat Appreciation Day, International Haiku Poetry Day and National Cheese Ball Day. April 18: National Animal Crackers Day, National Lineman Appreciation Day and National Velociraptor Awareness Day. April 19: National Garlic Day. April 20: Chinese Language Day, National Look-Alike Day and National Pineapple Upside-Down Cake Day. April 21: Administrative Professionals Day, National Bulldogs Are Beautiful Day, National Kindergarten Day, National Tea Day and Tiradentes Day. April 22: Earth Day and National Jelly Bean Day. April 23: Day of Silence, National Cherry Cheesecake Day, National Picnic Day, National Take a Chance Day, St. George’s Day, Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day, and World Book Day. April 24: National Pigs in a Blanket Day and National Skipping Day. April 25: Anzac Day, Kiss and Make Up Day, National DNA Day, National Drug Take Back Day, National Hairstylist Appreciation Day, National Hug a Plumber Day, National Pet Parents Day, National Telephone Day and World Malaria Day. April 26: National Pretzel Day. April 27: National Prime Rib Day. April 28: International Guide Day, National Blueberry Pie Day, National Superhero Day and Stop Food Waste Day. April 29: International Dance Day and National Shrimp Scampi Day. April 30: Honesty Day, International Jazz Day, National Arbor Day, National Bubble Tea Day, National Hairball Awareness Day and National Raisin Day.

As leaders of our associations, we like to do things for our members — building a union hall or holding barbecues, paint nights, appreciation days … basically, any reason to have a party. All of these celebrations cost money, some much more than others, but little things can add up to a lot in a short period of time. Recently my association started to give an annual amount of money to one group, because every special day, they requested money so the department could do something for the members. I am all about having an appreciation day, but if you did something for every appreciation day, you would never have a week without a party — and shame on you if one appreciation day party or gift was better than another. In the end, everyone would be mad and blame you for the whole thing. So do we just not do anything? No, start a committee and assign it to come up with celebrations throughout the year, budget for the events and don’t allow any other appreciation days.

Have a wonderful April and try out some of the fun holidays listed above. They might just become an annual event for you.

President’s Message

BRIAN R. MARVEL

PORAC President

Staying Connected With Members

One of my highest priorities as the president of PORAC is the membership and meeting your needs. As so, I am always looking for new and better ways to connect with members, share resources and ensure an open line of communication. That is why PORAC is working to update, reorganize and improve our website to make it easier and simpler for members to access the information and resources you need and to increase opportunities for you to communicate directly with PORAC chapter and senior leadership. With that in mind, we are creating individual chapter landing pages. This will bring all the chapters under the PORAC umbrella website, allow for the individuality each chapter represents throughout the state, share photos, send messages, request materials and more.

We value and encourage our members’ input and are always looking to keep you in the loop on the latest and greatest that PORAC has to offer. We look forward to using the updated website as an improved resource, something we feel will become increasingly important as virtual communication has become the primary mode of communication during the pandemic, and we fully expect that trend to continue.

PORAC Member Benefits

PORAC membership is incredibly valuable, and as an organization, we are committed to sharing with you all the information you may need to take full advantage of the many benefits, programs and services that come with your PORAC membership. We are currently working to create new educational materials and are talking with your chapter leaders about the PORAC services they feel are the most useful and how we can better provide you with opportunities to participate. As we develop these new materials and collect input from your chapter leaders, I want to take a moment to highlight a few of our most important programs and encourage you to learn more about how you can benefit from them.

One of our most valuable and successful programs, PORAC’s Legal Defense Fund (LDF), is the nation’s oldest, largest and most respected public safety legal plan. The LDF currently has reserves of more than $40 million, providing over 135,000 members with access to attorneys, experts and investigators when needed. We know there are times in this job that require legal assistance, and we want to make sure our members are always protected. The LDF includes cost-covering programs for court costs, expert witnesses and other expenses that could make or break a case, along with 24/7 emergency legal response services following a critical incident. Whether the case costs $100,000 or $1,000,000 to defend, we keep our long-standing promise of never skimping when our members’ lives and careers are on the line. Quite honestly, PORAC’s LDF is the platinum program of the United States.

We also know a career in law enforcement is a dangerous job, and we want to ensure our members and your families are always covered and prepared for unexpected accidents or illnesses, medical expenses and home or auto incidents. The Insurance and Benefits Trust (IBT) aims to provide the best comprehensive insurance products at a reasonable price while providing support to our members in understanding how these products can best protect you and advocate for members in cases when you need assistance with any type of insurance issue or question. In addition, IBT’s health insurance plan is one of, if not the best in the state. I would highly recommend trying to utilize or get access to it.

In addition to supporting our members while they are still on the job, a PORAC membership provides lifelong benefits. The PORAC Retiree Medical Trust (RMT) is a financial tool that allows current members to save money tax-free today, accrue interest tax-free and cover medical expenses in retirement tax-free. Planning for your future should always be on the top of your mind, and PORAC wants to ensure our members are taking advantage of this program today to secure you and your family’s financial future in retirement. If your agency does not provide any retiree medical health plans, contact PORAC RMT right away. It is never too late to plan for tomorrow.

These are just a few of the benefits PORAC members have access to. You can learn more about these programs and more on the PORAC website at the top of the homepage or on the Membership Benefits Summary webpage.

Increasing PORAC’s National Presence Through New Partnerships

As PORAC continues to increase our footprint at the state and national level, we are pursuing new branding opportunities to highlight our organization’s leadership. We are excited to announce a new partnership with NASCAR Xfinity Series and Mike Harmon Racing driver Kyle Weatherman. We will be sponsoring Weatherman in two upcoming races, March 6 and September 25, with PORAC-designed and PORAC-branded decals for his car. This exposure will be a new and creative way to promote PORAC’s name and raise awareness about our organization on a national level. The March race will be on FS1, and the September race will be on NBCSN.

Weatherman, along with the entire Mike Harmon Racing team, has been outspoken supporters of the law enforcement community through the years and most recently, with several “Back the Blue” programs sponsored by additional law enforcement partnerships. We are working with the organizers of these races to get discounted tickets for our PORAC members and will keep you updated on this exciting partnership. We are looking forward to cheering Kyle on as he takes the checkered flag in the PORAC #47 race car.