President’s Message

Brian Marvel
PORAC President

As all of you have hopefully heard by now, on June 27 the U.S. Supreme Court issued its long-awaited decision in the case of Janus v. AFSCME. It overturned 41 years of established case law by declaring the collection of “fair-share” or “agency shop” fees by public employee unions to be unconstitutional under the First Amendment. This means that nonmembers can no longer be required to cover the costs of collective bargaining, managing grievances and other nonpolitical functions that unions undertake on behalf of all employees regardless of membership status. The court essentially said that all union activity is inherently political, and that requiring employees to “subsidize” it infringes on their free speech even when they also reap the benefits of their bargaining unit’s hard work.

Anti-union organizations are already gearing up an aggressive campaign to persuade public employees to leave their unions. Even though labor and supportive legislators in states like California have expected and prepared for this decision, it undoubtedly will become harder for public-sector unions to keep their heads above water as the next tidal wave of attacks on our rights and benefits rolls in.

What does this mean for PORAC members? I want to be clear that Janus does not change the well-established principles of PORAC and PORAC LDF membership: Member benefits, including legal defense coverage, are available only to individuals who maintain full membership in an association affiliated with PORAC. PORAC has the greatest lineup of attorneys, and they work exclusively for PORAC-affiliated associations. Vice President Brent Meyer details the many important benefits of membership in his message on the next page. I will add that for over 64 years, PORAC has been the most respected voice and largest collection of interests for peace officers in California. We are resolute and dedicated in protecting you and what you are trying to build for your family in the face of an increasingly challenging job that continues to grow more dangerous. PORAC is focused on building solidarity among police officers, sheriff’s deputies, correctional officers, probation officers and public safety personnel to create a common voice of advocacy on your behalf. This core commitment to bringing and keeping people together is the foundation of what PORAC represents.

Now, our united voice is more important than ever before. As I said to Corporate Counsel Bob Bonsall in our recent On the Job With PORAC podcast episode on Janus (which I encourage you to listen to for further background and analysis), I believe that this Supreme Court ruling was purely ideological, designed to undermine organized labor. After the decision was announced, PORAC issued a statement calling it what it was: the continuation of the war against both labor unions and law enforcement in this country. We already know that law enforcement is under attack, and a new pension fight looms as well. Shoulder to shoulder, we must defend our profession, our livelihoods and our very lives.

It is vitally important for all of you to continue your membership in your respective associations and maintain your associations’ membership in PORAC, so that we can keep strengthening our Legal Defense Fund, our Insurance & Benefits program, our political advocacy, and our partnerships with our fellow law enforcement organizations and labor groups. Your being a member of your association makes it stronger, and your association’s membership in PORAC makes us stronger. With your ongoing support and involvement, our organization will stand firm and steadfast for you in Sacramento and D.C. Our opponents may think they can break us, but we will prove them wrong. In times of greatest adversity, peace officers always seem to rise to the occasion and exceed expectations; this will be no different.

Connecting with our members is our highest priority, and communication is crucial in forming the powerful coalition we need to face the battle ahead. That’s why, on a happier note, I am pleased to announce that the PORAC app has won the 2018 APEX Award for Publication Excellence! This annual honor is bestowed on professional print and electronic media that demonstrate overall communications effectiveness. In partnership with our publishing team at 911MEDIA, we’ve worked hard to create a user-friendly app that allows members to access all the information they need, and we’re proud to see our efforts recognized. If you haven’t downloaded and used this award-winning tool yet, now’s the time to see what it’s all about at PORAC.org/porac-mobile-app.

As always, stay safe, and my deepest thanks for your membership and support.

Vice President’s Message

Brent J. Meyer
PORAC Vice President

In light of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Janus case, we want to thank you for your membership. Although we say it often, it’s never enough. You, your association and what you stand for are the reasons why PORAC is the largest statewide organization in the United States. Without your support and your affiliation with PORAC, we wouldn’t be able to accomplish what we do on your behalf in Sacramento. The Board of Directors recognizes the weight of what this means and appreciates the great level of trust that you have in us.

The Supreme Court’s Janus decision has raised a bit of confusion about who is entitled to receive PORAC benefits, specifically as it relates to participating in and receiving coverage within the PORAC Legal Defense Fund. According to our Bylaws and the Summary Plan Document respectively, participation in our LDF plan is limited to peace officers or public safety professionals who maintain membership in an association affiliated with PORAC. Legal defense coverage under PORAC LDF is not available, however, to individuals who choose to discontinue membership within their local association.

The Janus decision calls to the forefront questions about why remaining a member of PORAC is so important. What do you get from being a member of PORAC? This is always a substantial topic of discussion among the Board of Directors and at chapter meetings, and it will be even more so now. Because of this, we thought it timely to refresh your understanding of the benefits of membership, as you cannot obtain access to them unless you are a member and your association is in good standing with PORAC (i.e., your dues are paid up).

The most valuable benefit of PORAC membership is our ability to mobilize and interact with you. The strength of PORAC comes from our membership and their local associations, which bind us all together! PORAC’s leadership, Board of Directors and representatives cannot effectively respond to nor protect what is important to you unless you communicate that to us. The best place to do so is at your chapter meetings, which is why we regularly and strongly encourage your participation. All our members are welcome to attend, because that exchange of information is vital to our success in taking you where you expect us to go.

PORAC’s statewide advocacy program is also, undeniably, the most effective lobbying for peace officers in the state. Representing the voice of nearly two-thirds of California’s law enforcement and public safety members carries the great responsibility and ability to influence legislation and politics in a manner beyond that to which anyone else in our state can lay claim. Although our competitors offer comparable legal defense benefits and insurance products, none offers PORAC’s quality of representation. Moving legislation, rather than just merely showing up and supporting it, is what sets us apart and demonstrates the value of membership in our organization.

PORAC’s training and education programs not only introduce new association representatives to what they need to know and understand about running their organization, but also guide them on how to take their POA or DSA further ahead and to the next level. Solid courses in representing their own in Internal Affairs, as well as on the fundamentals of how to collectively bargain, are just two of the many training areas that we offer for our members. Taught by subject-matter experts who have a law enforcement association background and are active practitioners, our training is constantly evolving to address the current trends in negotiations and state law. In addition to our monthly training courses, PORAC’s Annual Conference and Training Symposium always provide the most current insight into the challenges on the horizon.

Finally, with full-time active peace officers serving as PORAC’s main representatives and a staff of individuals dedicated to your needs, our organization clearly has the resources to meet and exceed your expectations. We don’t operate out of a P.O. box, and we are certainly proud of the fact that we demonstrate that through our words and actions — such as sustaining meaningful scholarship awards for our members’ dependents throughout the state each year.

Networking, advocacy, training and benefits are all hallmarks of PORAC, along with working to ensure that the public image of law enforcement is a positive one. More detailed information about what we are doing for you can be found throughout this issue of your magazine and at PORAC.org, as well as within our social media.

If there was ever a time when we need to stick together, that time is now. Today, rallying behind the demonstrated influence and reputation that we have established over decades of the very best representation, PORAC is your very best choice to speak on your behalf in defense of our profession, and even more importantly, to make your association stronger. Again, thank you for your membership, have fun, and stay safe!

Treasurer’s Message

Marcelo Blanco
PORAC Treasurer

It’s Budget Time

Last year’s audit is in the wrap-up stages. It appears your PORAC financial team was able to gauge our income and expenses fairly well. When you deduct our unrealized gains and losses on our investments, we ended up with a surplus.

By the time you read this article, the Budget Committee will be well on the way toward presenting the proposed 2019 budget to the Board of Directors. As in the past, our accountant has done an extensive review of the last three to five years’ income and expenses to create a better prediction for the 2019 budget. We continue to see some certainties in areas where increases will be needed.

You will have an opportunity to review PORAC’s budget at the Conference of Members in Reno, Nevada. If you have not yet registered, please make sure to do so as quickly as possible! I would hate to see you left out of the Annual Conference. You may register at PORAC.org.

Now let’s take a look at your individual association’s budget. When preparing it, you may want to use the three-to-five-year average method we employ at PORAC. However, association budget preparation calls for a bit of a paradigm shift in your thought process, from government budgeting to business budgeting.

In the first phase, you need to determine which items you want to maintain at status quo and which will require an increase or decrease. This is where the three-to-five-year average comes in handy in providing justification for the amounts you have decided to place under each category.

Second, it’s important to remember in business budgeting that a surplus in your last year’s budget shows you have done a great job in the budgeting process, as well as fulfilling your fiduciary responsibility to your members. The surplus does not mean you need to go and spend the money before the end of the budget cycle, fearing that item will not be fully funded for the following year. Remember that as association leaders, you make the decisions on what will or will not be funded for the following year.

Finally, do not set your budget in stone. You are not required to have your members formally adopt the budget, although that does not preclude them from reviewing it and making recommendations. If it’s your association’s practice to formally adopt your yearly budget, you may want to reconsider it, especially when it comes to making significant increases to a specific line item. If your members formally adopted the budget, you will have to get your entire membership to meet and adopt the change. If you are a part of a small association, this may not be a problem; however, for large associations it could be a costly process. Either way, keep your members involved and informed during the process by giving them the opportunity to review the budget along the way and provide them with guidance through the fiscal roadmap your board has decided to follow for the following year.

Not setting your budget in stone does not mean you are not automatically giving your board a blank check to do as they please with your money. However, it is imperative that your bylaws and standing rules that govern your board, president and vice president’s actions in spending your money are up to date. They should clearly delineate how much authority you are willing to give these executive officers when it comes to making financial decisions and when they need to seek input from the members.

Please don’t forget to attend your local chapter meetings and keep yourself informed as to what is occurring within your city, county and state — especially in the “war on police” environment we find ourselves in today. It is extremely unfortunate that certain groups can espouse hatred toward law enforcement and we have to be the ones to stand up and support each other. It is unfortunate how those who condemn us are also the first to expect our help when things go sideways for them. In addition, we have some politicians who can’t help but jump in front of a camera or reporter to save their hides and make uneducated or unnecessary remarks when an event occurs that is not textbook in nature or is considered inappropriate or wrong by those who have never done this job or faced making a critical decision in their lives. Hopefully, you understand that your chapter meetings are imperative; see you there.

PORAC Finance and Administrative Manager Kim Busman and I are available to assist you with your association’s budgeting needs. I look forward to seeing you at Conference in Reno and providing you with the opportunity to review your 2019 PORAC budget. In the meantime, be safe and have fun.

President’s Message

Brian Marvel
PORAC President

Back in March, I wrote about how one of my primary goals as PORAC president is to focus on better leveraging of our communication resources to engage, inform and, most importantly, strengthen relationships between our Board, association leadership and members. So, how have we been doing so far? I’m happy to report that with every issue we have been enhancing our magazine with a member-centered approach in mind, creating and presenting content that speaks to you. This can best be illustrated by the in-depth profiles spotlighting our committees and chapters. Thanks to this series, members now know the roles and responsibilities of the people behind the Scholarship and Recruitment and Retention Committees, and the issues that the Northern and Bay Area Chapters are currently tackling. While we’re just getting the ball rolling on this series, the profiles we have run have connected our membership, generating dialogue among members throughout the state. The feedback we have received from members has also been immensely positive.

Speaking of feedback, we are very interested in hearing more from our members about how we’re doing with the magazine, so we worked with our publishers at 911MEDIA to conduct a survey at Symposium asking for input on how and what to improve. The results were eye-opening. Not only were respondents receptive to all the proposed changes that we announced in March, but they wanted us to go even further in our member-centered approach. More than half wanted member profiles highlighting an individual member’s agency, the type of work they do, their achievements and their thoughts on prevalent law enforcement issues. Adding to that, a number of respondents asked for more content written by and geared toward retirees, with many suggesting legal advice from Legal Defense Fund attorneys for RAM members.

We also received many other suggestions for substantive content to cover. Respondents expressed interest in seeing more “news-you-can-use” type articles on new equipment and technology (76%), training (82%), continuing education (79%), peace officers’ off-duty activities (70%), educational resources (71%), coverage of PORAC events and trainings classes (67%), and legal advice (94%). Specific story ideas were suggested as well, including active-shooter training, drug trends, California gun laws, pensions and career survival.

We held a very productive meeting with 911MEDIA to go over these results and strategize how best to implement all this great feedback. After going over the comments, it was evident that our members want to hear more from one another. They want to know about individual members’ challenges, achievements and the issues they’re currently facing. They also want to learn from their fellow members, who operate in various capacities in different agencies across the state.

To that end, we are currently seeking members who can help us increase our coverage of the topics identified in the survey. If you have an idea for an article (such as a member we should profile or a question you’d like answered), or if you have opinions and expertise you want to share by submitting an article for publication, please email us at PORAC@911media.com. We are also calling for RAM writers who would like to write about or share their experiences with preparing for retirement and post-retirement issues.

In addition, we encourage members to keep sharing the great work being done by their agencies. If you share your agency’s major accomplishments or their involvement in the community on social media, use the hashtag #WeArePORAC so we can see, repost and share with all our members and public safety supporters the great work that your agency is doing.

We have created another way to connect with you and the public; check out our On the Job With PORAC podcast. Our second episode discusses Police Week and the annual spring Fly-In, and we just released a special bonus episode on AB 931. You can listen at PORAC.org/podcast or via the PORAC app. We hope that you’re following along as we tackle a variety of topics, including legislation, public safety and pensions, while providing up-to-date information on officer benefits, training and advocacy. We will be increasing our content and having special interviews as we continue recording more episodes.

I would like to close out my article with the following announcements: Registration is now open for the 66th Annual Conference of Members, and we have confirmed comedian Craig Shoemaker as this year’s Installation dinner entertainment (see page 8 for more details). “Like us” on Facebook and “follow” us on Twitter as we announce more information regarding this year’s conference.

Have a safe and happy Fourth of July!

Vice President’s Message

Brent J. Meyer
PORAC Vice President

Election Day in California is always very exciting for me, and the June 5 primary proved to be no exception. After the votes are cast, all you can do is wait with bated breath to see if your chosen candidates get to move on to the big November election. As much as I wanted to go to bed on Tuesday evening and just check the results in the morning, I couldn’t; I refreshed election tallies well into the night, feeding a need that only another political junkie could relate to.

As you know, PORAC was invested in all the statewide races, as well as dozens of local ones throughout the state. There were so many important contests to watch, and it was great to see that PORAC predicted the majority of the winners in the races where we endorsed. However, there were a few developments and surprises I found interesting in the primary that I wanted to share with you.

Statewide, I was surprised that the PORAC-supported gubernatorial candidate, Antonio Villaraigosa, failed to place among the top two vote-getters. The former mayor of Los Angeles finished with only 13% of the votes, falling behind Republican John Cox, who secured a second-place finish (26%). To add insult to injury, the Democratic rival, Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, not only finished first (36%) but also came out on top in L.A. County, beating Villaraigosa in his hometown. While we’re upset by this loss, we now have to regroup and reconcile whether either of the top two candidates aligns, if at all, with our interests.

An unprecedented 11 candidates vied for the position of lieutenant governor. Many pulled out all the stops to stand out and attract voters, making this one of the most expensive races in the primary. Money certainly talked for first-place winner Eleni Kounalakis, a late entry into the race who narrowly took first with 24% of the votes. PORAC’s candidate, State Senator Ed Hernandez, came in second with 21%. Kounalakis received millions in endorsements, including $300,000 from pharmaceutical companies. It would seem that Big Pharma is backing her because of Hernandez’s challenge to the industry with SB 17, his drug-pricing transparency law that passed last year. While money seems to be no object for Kounalakis, I think it will take more than that to secure the top spot in November.

Perhaps one of the most curious race results was the ouster of State Senator Josh Newman (D-Fullerton), a PORAC-endorsed candidate and the first state lawmaker to be recalled in 23 years! He was recalled by almost 60% of the voters in his district, and former Assembly Member Ling Ling Chang (R-Diamond Bar) was elected to replace him. This loss means that Democrats in the Senate will not have the two-thirds supermajority for the remainder of the year.

Constituents recalled Newman because of his support of SB 1 (Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017), otherwise known as the gas tax. Surprisingly, the gas tax has become a powerful issue for the California Republican Party, which led the campaign for Newman’s recall. Gubernatorial candidate Cox, among other Republicans, voiced his opposition to SB 1 on election night and vowed to repeal it if he gains office. Newman’s recall may see more conservative voters heading to the polls in November.

Locally, despite pouring in millions of dollars to back left-leaning candidates, New York billionaire George Soros failed to influence voters in three district attorney races. The victors — Sacramento DA Anne Marie Schubert (64%), San Diego DA Summer Stephan (64%) and Alameda County DA Nancy O’Malley (59%) — handily mopped the floor with Soros-backed candidates in their respective races. Soros and his network of wealthy donors and activist groups have been attempting to reshape the criminal justice system nationwide; however, they seemed to underestimate how strong the support for law enforcement is in California.

In a surprising turn of events, Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith was finally forced into a November runoff. Smith, who is the county’s longest-serving sheriff and running for her sixth term, is facing John Hirokawa, her former undersheriff, after failing to achieve 50% of the vote. Many are calling this runoff the most heated race in the county. Smith’s tenure has been filled with mounting controversies, including an incident in 2016, where she is alleged to have tampered with an internal affairs investigation, of which she was the target. This election will certainly be one to watch.

There were also a number of current and former association leaders and PORAC members challenging sitting incumbent sheriffs in five counties: Monterey, Sacramento, Shasta, San Joaquin and Stanislaus. Notably, in the San Joaquin race, the Valley Chapter’s very own Pat Withrow beat Steve Moore with 58% of votes to become the new sheriff-elect, despite Moore being the president of the California State Sheriffs’ Association. We were extremely proud to see PORAC members take on these challenges.

Though we were not victorious in all the campaigns we supported, there isn’t a cause for anxiety. The PORAC Board of Directors is now assessing our next plan of action for November, deciding what’s in the best interest of our membership and considering the changes to the political landscape ahead. We still believe in those that we’ve endorsed, and will be working hard to get them elected. While this is much easier said than done, PORAC recognizes that not everyone gets what they want at times. At the end of the day, though, it’s all part of a bigger political process we engage in on your behalf in Sacramento, and we’re always trying to win for you. That said, we definitely want to know what you think, so sound off at your July and August chapter meetings and let us know. (Chapter meeting dates and locations can be found at PORAC.org/calendar.) Our Board will be meeting in August and likely will make decisions about our endorsements then.

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

Treasurer’s Message

Marcelo Blanco
PORAC Treasurer

Keeping Yourself and Your Members Informed

Your Budget Committee is hard at work. While we are just approaching the halfway mark for 2018, we have already begun working on the 2019 budget. There are innumerable variables that affect our budget every year; as such, we need to begin analyzing what those variables are to predict and prepare a good working plan for next year. As always, we need to consider our members’ needs and marry them with the needs of the organization in order to be sustainable today and in the future. With the help of the Budget and Executive Committees and the entire Board of Directors, PORAC is on solid financial footing. Despite this, we must always be cautious and not take our healthy financial position for granted by delving into frivolous ventures or making unnecessary expenditures. Unfortunately, many legislative issues are looming that may have an adverse effect on our revenues and the revenues of other large statewide associations. Since we are interconnected with other statewide associations, when their finances negatively affect them, there exists the possibility that we will be negatively affected as well. Therefore, it’s important we continue to be fiscally responsible and grow our reserves to ensure that we can weather this and any legislative storm on the horizon.

Since I monitor our investments in the stock market, I get a firsthand look at the good days and the challenging ones. Even though PORAC is very well diversified and managed, we still experience our fair share of ebb and flow as the market fluctuates. However, it is the diversification (based on the investment policy established by the Board of Directors and the expert management by Mark Sikorski) that has kept us in the game during the challenging times. Mark is constantly monitoring the health of our funds to ensure that we are in the best position possible to minimize the effects of the bear market and to take full advantage of the bull market.

The key lies in the constant monitoring and management of funds, along with some “tweaks” throughout the process, to keep us on the right track. If your organization employs Mark Sikorski to manage its investments, this may be the reminder you need to call him to make sure that you are on track. If you have another investment manager, Mark is always willing to provide your association with a second opinion. If your association does not have access to a financial/investment advisor, attend your local chapter meeting and inquire; you will be amazed by the wealth of information available at your chapter meetings. If you still have trouble finding an investment planner, contact me, I know a really good one.

Speaking of having good financial footing, if you are an Amazon Prime member (who isn’t?), you have an opportunity to help PORAC’s Peace Officers Research and Education Foundation (POREF) by signing up with AmazonSmile. This is a simple, no-added-cost way of supporting a charity of your choice while shopping on Amazon. When you shop with AmazonSmile, Amazon will donate 0.5% of the purchase price of eligible products to your chosen charity. To use AmazonSmile, go to www.smile.amazon.com, and under the account dropdown menu, you will see the option to select a charity. Type in Peace Officers Research and Education Foundation, and that’s it, you are now on your way to helping PORAC members’ children with scholarships for higher education. Who knows, you may even be contributing to your own child’s scholarship fund, so please sign up.

Be safe and have fun.

President’s Message

Brian Marvel
PORAC President

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All the best. Stay safe.

Vice President’s Message

Brent J. Meyer
PORAC Vice President

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Treasurer’s Message

Marcelo Blanco
PORAC Treasurer

PERS Investing in Unicorns and Rainbows


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be safe and have fun.

President’s Message

Brian Marvel
PORAC President

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

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

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

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

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

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