President’s Message

Brian Marvel
PORAC President

Since the announcements of SB 230 and AB 392 in February, the debate between public safety groups and ACLU-led organizations has been renewed in the public eye, drawing varying opinions from politicians to the public alike. The media, in particular, has been a powerful voice in this debate for the way it, in its so-called “objective” reporting, has framed both pieces of legislation. We have been monitoring the news cycle’s coverage of our bill and the opposition’s bill, and based on what we’ve seen so far, the long-held bias against police officers is alive and well in the media.

Take, for example, the Sacramento Bee’s disparate coverage of the competing bills. In numerous articles, Assemblymember Shirley Weber’s AB 392 — a revived version of AB 931 that seeks to raise the legal standard for deadly use of force — is juxtaposed with mentions of officer-involved shootings, such as the 2018 Stephon Clark incident, statistics about the “high” number of law enforcement–related deaths in the state and successes other states, like Washington, have had with use-of-force restrictions. The paper continues to fan the flames of anti-police sentiment in some groups. They parrot the talking points of the mostly inaccurate ACLU statistics and never challenge the veracity of their claims. I know the Bee has some good reporters who are objective and focus on the facts, but the editorial board either lacks the backbone to challenge the ACLU or is completely in the bag with Weber.

Within those very same articles, SB 230 is written about almost like an afterthought. Senator Anna Caballero’s comprehensive use-of-force legislation, which focuses on creating statewide protocols and training, is treated as merely a law enforcement-backed response to Weber’s bill. Unlike with AB 392, hardly any data, any mentions of how officers’ uses of force have saved lives and any statistics about the dangers of the job or line-of-duty deaths accompany SB 230. We spent five months negotiating with Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkin’s staff, Weber’s staff and the ACLU to find an agreeable compromise. As you can see, it didn’t work out, but not for our lack of trying. While these negotiations were proceeding, we worked with use-of-force and legal experts, along with medical professionals, to craft a plan that addresses all their concerns.

What’s more, a month after reporting about both bills, the Bee’s editorial board published a scathing piece entitled, “Police won’t obey transparency law. Why trust them on deadly force reform?” It erroneously argued that law enforcement’s opposition to SB 1421 meant that law enforcement does not favor transparency and therefore cannot be trusted to implement use-of-force reform. The Bee showed readers how it really felt about police when it called SB 230 a “sham” and a “decoy bill designed to thwart real reform.” With this position, how can we expect them to objectively report about SB 230 and our plan?

Unfortunately, the Bee is just one of many media outlets skewing public opinion with its bias. Many outlets consciously or unconsciously show bias in their reporting, and it’s part of a disturbing trend that perpetuates and engenders anti-law-enforcement sentiment among the public. According to a Pew Research Center survey conducted by the National Police Research Platform in 2017, about eight in ten officers (81%) who work in departments with 100 or more sworn officers say the media generally treat police unfairly. About four in ten officers (42%) strongly agree that the media are unfair to police.

In addition to influencing how the public feels about police, the media’s treatment of the profession also negatively affects officers on the job. The survey stated officers who strongly agree that the media treat police unfairly have feelings of frustration at work, and nearly one in three (31%) say such treatment makes them feel angry.

The media has been preying on law enforcement for far too long, and we must push back against this unfair treatment. We must be vigilant about presenting the facts about SB 230 to our legislators and the public. We need to counter the media’s biased reporting with objective information about Senator Caballero’s bill, which sets a clear and enforceable standard for authorizing the use of force, standardizes use-of-force training and enacts precedent-setting, evidence-based policies to maximize sound judgment and minimize use of force in our state. Contrary to what the Bee is reporting, this bill is neither a sham nor decoy. SB 230 will require all of California’s 500 law enforcement agencies to adhere to the use-of-force standard set by the U.S. Supreme Court, establish the most comprehensive use-of-force policies and guidelines in the nation, undergo the best use-of-force training available while providing the resources necessary to accomplish that task and continue to uphold our commitment to protecting all Californians.

If you are reading this article, it is a call to action! We can be angry and frustrated with the media, but the best way to counter this is by getting involved. We need you to help us in Sacramento. I need you to write, phone or visit your local statewide elected officials and tell them the truth about SB 230 and why it’s so important for the future of law enforcement and the communities we serve. If our voice is not heard, the elected leaders will only hear from the opposition. We have made it easy for you to reach your representatives with our digital action alert. Simply visit www.porac.org/sb230 to send a prewritten letter stating that you support SB 230 and oppose AB 392. It only takes a few seconds to let your voice be heard!

The best way to tell the Bee to pound sand is to have SB 230 pass and AB 392 fail!

Together, we can work toward protecting California communities and setting a national standard for policing.

Be safe. 

Vice President’s Message

Damon Kurtz
PORAC Vice President

SB 230 and How You Can Help

If you are starting to notice a little redundancy in our articles regarding the debate between SB 230 and AB 392, we apologize. This issue dominates President Marvel’s life as well mine, and for good reason. We must commit our time and resources to this issue now more than ever. Currently, we are facing an unprecedented assault on the character of law enforcement. The mainstream media and our elected officials are doing their best to depict law enforcement as a callous establishment that shoots and kills persons of color without any accountability. This depiction of the men and women of law enforcement is extremely offensive to those who have served and continue to serve the profession with honor and integrity. This depiction couldn’t be further from the truth, but the truth doesn’t seem to matter anymore. The reality is that you have a greater chance of dying in a house fire or on an operating table than you do being shot by a police officer. If you follow the commands of the officer, your chances of being shot become almost zero. For whatever reason, the mainstream media and our elected officials have chosen to make law enforcement the enemy and make martyrs out of those who prey on our society. We are the thin blue line that stands between the public and those who prey on our communities. I fear the day when there are so few of us left to do the job that we are unable to keep our communities safe. If AB 392 passes as written, that day would be all but a foregone conclusion.

If we haven’t driven the point home, it’s time for you to get involved. We know from our everyday interactions with the general public that we have their support. Unfortunately, this isn’t being conveyed to the elected officials. We need you at the local level to help defeat AB 392 and support SB 230. PORAC recently sent out a digital activation alert that includes an FAQ and a link (www.porac.org/sb230) to send a letter of support for SB 230 to your representatives here in Sacramento. We need you to help get the general public’s support and encourage them to reach out to their representatives. The representatives in Sacramento must hear our supporters just as loud as those who hate us. We need you to meet with your local elected officials and garner support in the city and county governments. If possible, get them to make a resolution in support of SB 230. AB 392 only lays the financial burden and civil liability back on the local governments. Build coalitions with other groups outside of law enforcement, such as the building trades or your local chambers of commerce. Use your social media platforms to push out positive messages and generate support for SB 230. If possible, put together lobbying trips to meet with your representatives in Sacramento or in their district offices.  

If AB 392 passes, our law enforcement officers will no longer be judged by what a “reasonable officer” would have done in a similar situation. In the new standard, officers will be judged by information not known to them at the time of the incident and will be criminally prosecuted if their actions are deemed not necessary. I know most people are typically apathetic to politics and generally don’t pay too much attention until something is passed or it’s time to vote. We can’t wait for this to happen. We need a true grassroots effort to defeat AB 392 and to push back on the narrative that negatively depicts law enforcement. It’s time to rally the troops and fight back against this false narrative.

Thanks for reading, and stay safe out there!  

 

Treasurer’s Message

Timothy Davis
PORAC Treasurer

Society Needs to Respect the Enforcement of the
Rule of Law

 Editor’s note: This op-ed appeared in The Sacramento Bee on March 17.

 The shooting of Stephon Clark has now been reviewed by two independent agencies, the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office and the California Department of Justice. Both agencies spent nearly a year combing through all the evidence, including video recordings, photographs, witness interviews, forensic evidence, coroner’s reports and countless other evidence.

Both agencies independently concluded that the officers’ actions were not criminal and were consistent with the law. These officers were called on by concerned citizens who needed them to address the criminal actions of Clark. Both the district attorney and the attorney general proved that Clark was involved in criminal acts.

When officers contacted Clark, he did not comply. Instead of taking advantage of an open avenue of escape, he chose to turn on the officers, who both said he took a shooting stance and aggressively advanced on them. The officers clearly believed Clark was in possession of a gun and posed a deadly threat. The officers had no choice but to use force to protect themselves and the community they serve.

While Clark’s death is a tragedy, it is a tragedy of his own making. His actions necessitated the officers’ response. As a society, we expect and demand officers to intercede when criminal activity is in progress. Law enforcement officers don’t pick and choose which laws to enforce and how to enforce those laws. They are trained to protect people, property and themselves. When suspects are not compliant with law enforcement, the consequences are predictable. 

Now, with the investigations concluded and the officers’ actions confirmed to be clearly in accordance to the law, some are demanding the law be changed. Others are second-guessing the officers’ split-second actions in a dangerous situation. Some are wondering if more training could ensure that no one is ever hurt during crimes or arrests. These questions all ignore half of the equation. They fail to consider the actions of the involved criminals, who are the ones most capable of preventing the use of force.

Officers use force in response to resistance and threats. Every day, officers encounter crimes in progress. Most of these encounters end without the use of any force because most alleged suspects comply with law enforcement. However, sometimes force is needed to overcome resistance, and that force is proportionate to the perceived resistance and threat. To prevent force being used to overcome resistance, a criminal who is subject to arrest need only comply.

The U.S. Supreme Court has established the standard to judge officers and that standard accounts for the fact that we place our officers in dangerous situations where we expect them to make split-second, life-and-death decisions with limited information. Due to this expectation, we must judge law enforcement personnel based only on the information they knew at the time.

Now, in a gross overreaction, Assembly Bill 392 would allow officers to be charged with murder if, in the calm of the months after an incident, anyone can think of anything the officers could have done differently to have avoided deadly use of force, even mandating that officers retreat from criminals who resist. This is an unobtainable standard. The endless lines of “what ifs” will always exist. In the fractions of seconds that officers have to make these decisions, it is impossible to evaluate all the “what ifs.”

Is this really what our community expects? Do we want officers to retreat from dangerous situations, fail to protect our community and leave the law-abiding public to fend for themselves as criminals are allowed to engage in their criminal behavior unchecked by a neutered police force?

If we truly want to reduce the number of police encounters that end in tragedy, then we must solve the underlying problems. We should improve training and policies for officers. We must provide resources for those in society who are struggling with mental health issues, chemical dependencies, lack of education, homelessness and poverty. Most importantly, we must teach our youth and others that compliance with laws and law enforcement minimizes violence and prevents the use of force by officers.

Police departments across the state, including the Sacramento Police Department, are already working on implementing changes. As a result, deadly encounters in California were down 34% in 2018. The state DOJ has outlined a framework for these changes and SB 230 would mandate many of the attorney general’s recommendations throughout the state.

Legislators have a clear choice this legislative cycle: They can either vote for a comprehensive solution to improve public safety and reduce future tragedies, or they can vote to send officers to prison and cripple law enforcement’s ability to protect and serve.

President’s Message

Brian Marvel
PORAC President

As many of you may recall, last year was tough for law enforcement on the legislative front. Assembly Bill 931 — which sought to limit officers’ use of force and ultimately criminalize you for split-second decisions under tense and rapidly evolving incidents — led the pack of measures that were not friendly to peace officers and public safety. We fought tooth and nail to make sure that AB 931 would not be passed. The final two weeks of the previous legislative session were some of the toughest in my life, but we succeeded in making sure that bill never made it to the governor’s desk. As expected, the proponents of AB 931 are trying again this year, with AB 392.

PORAC, in collaboration with a law enforcement coalition, is putting forth a comprehensive legislative plan that will set a clear legal standard for use of force, ensure robust officer training, bring in professional mental health professionals and launch California to the national forefront in use-of-force policies and procedures, training and addressing mental health incidents — all while maintaining public and police safety.

I am pleased to say that a group of law enforcement advocates — which included PORAC, LAPPL, ALADS, CAHP, Sheriff’s, and Chiefs — has announced the sponsorship of Senate Bill 230. The legislation, authored by Senator Anna Caballero, incorporates smart approaches used by various agencies and is the result of six months of collaboration by law enforcement, mental health professionals, use-of-force experts and our Legal Defense Fund panel attorneys throughout the state.

“Our goal through SB 230 is to reduce the tragic loss of life in our communities through a policy that protects the public and our peace officers,” Senator Caballero said.

Our intent in sponsoring this legislation is to ensure our officers can continue protecting human life while building on the community trust so many of our agencies enjoy. Just as peace officers can’t anticipate what they will encounter on any given day, our laws governing their engagement must account for the vast, unpredictable threats they face. SB 230 does that.

This bill updates the fleeing felon language that was written in 1872. Needless to say, the statute does not reflect the use-of-force standards established by the U.S. Supreme Court in Graham v. Connor and Tennessee v. Garner.

Conversely, the opposition’s AB 392 seeks to mandate a hindsight analysis of whether any other lesser use of force could have been reasonably deployed. It fails to consider the fact that other options may pose greater risks of death or injury to the officer or others and that the alternatives may not be as effective. As a result, reasonably necessary use of deadly force in self-defense or in defense of others could be stripped of legal protections under the justification statutes. In essence, you would be criminally prosecuted for protecting yourself or someone else by their standard for every deadly force incident. This, in my opinion, is their goal!

In the 1989 case of Graham v. Connor, the Supreme Court set the legal standard governing use of force. It aptly stated there must be an “allowance for the fact that police officers are required to make split-second judgments — in circumstances that are tense, uncertain and rapidly evolving — about the amount of force that is necessary in a particular situation.” We should do everything in our power to make sure this stays the standard.

While updating the outdated statute language, SB 230 also includes minimum standardized use-of-force training and internal use-of-force guidelines while providing additional funding to POST. SB 230 addresses each of these issues with the goal of better protecting both individuals and law enforcement officers.

Training is a big component of our plan. Training makes situations safer. Officers and deputies gain confidence with continual, quality training. That confidence leads to a better sense of when to use force and when not to. This is a proven fact. Yet the opposition never pursues a comprehensive training proposal. Why is that?

You also never hear the opposition offering ideas on how to cut down our violent crime rates, how to get guns off of our streets or reduce gang violence. They offer no voice for the hundreds of murder victims in the state of California. With the vocal anti-police sentiment out there, one might think that the number of law enforcement-related deaths has increased. In fact, 2018 saw a 34% reduction from the year before. However, any death is one too many — thus, the need for SB 230.

To learn more about the law enforcement coalition and our plan, visit protectca.com.

As I have said repeatedly, and will continue to say, it is more important than ever that we unite and make our voices heard, individually and collectively. I call again for all 70,000 PORAC members to step forward, make that first move, send that email, make that phone call to your local elected officials and tell them why it’s crucial that they support SB 230. They are your representatives and we live in their community, too. So let them know it matters to you. It could be a matter of life and death.

Have your family, friends and public safety advocates call, too!

Be safe.

Vice President’s Message

Damon Kurtz
PORAC Vice President

SB 230 and Advocacy

With the recent legislative activity regarding criminal justice reform at the state capitol and in Washington, D.C., I think it’s important to discuss advocacy and what that means. Every year, whether it’s at the local POA, DSA or here at PORAC, we as association leaders advocate for our members. This often means meeting with our elected officials and lobbying on your behalf to push through legislation we want or to kill legislation we don’t. We meet with all our elected representatives regardless of how we may personally feel about them. It is our responsibility to advocate for the membership and it takes numerous meetings and much persistence to succeed. Gone are the days when we could simply say this issue supports public safety and we would get the support we needed. 

Scrutiny and negative opinions of law enforcement have grown in recent years. Social justice organizations with a dislike for law enforcement have strong lobbying efforts here at the capitol. In 2018, the American Civil Liberties Union was the No. 2 contributor to political campaigns; only big oil spent more money. We recognize that if we refuse to speak to our elected officials, we ensure that our voice will not be heard. Think about it this way, if we don’t speak to them, how can we get them to understand our issues and ultimately agree with us? By ignoring our elected officials, we would only make it easier for them to vote against us. The saying “You are either at the table or on the menu” has never been more accurate.   

Politics can be extremely divisive among our members. We tend to cling to a political party and our views of any particular elected official has more to do with the party affiliation letter behind the name rather than what he or she has done.  As elected representatives of PORAC, we cannot take a partisan approach to our mission because our issues in law enforcement are not partisan. My personal politics do not influence who or what I advocate for. I advocate for the good of the membership. These issues are thoroughly vetted with our Board members, who represent law enforcement across the state of California.

This year, one of our focal points will be use of force. In 2018, California law enforcement saw an unprecedented number of bills that were anti-law enforcement in nature. The worst was AB 931, which sought to limit the ability of law enforcement to use deadly force and to make officers criminally liable in those instances where it was used. It would have changed the standard applied by the U.S. Supreme Court in Graham v. Connor.  A similar bill, AB 392, has been introduced this year. This was no surprise to PORAC. We, along with a coalition of other law enforcement advocates, have developed legislation that addresses the issues that face law enforcement today. PORAC and our coalition partners have developed a comprehensive bill to address use of force and its causes: SB 230. Read the entire bill at www.porac.org/2019/02/porac-use-of-force-legislation-bill-language.

We cannot put all of society’s pressures onto law enforcement and expect that we have all the answers. We cannot truly address the issues surrounding use of force without addressing the events that led up to that use of force. Many of these incidents involve mental illness and substance abuse. SB 230 will address many of these issues, from requiring use-of-force policies and training to making sure that law enforcement has the wraparound services and resources to deal with these situations. It is our hope that by developing strong training and providing the proper resources, violent confrontations will have a peaceful outcome. 

This brings it back to advocacy. If we are to succeed in passing SB 230, we will all have to be strong advocates. We need all our members in law enforcement to help educate the public on the issues. Reach out to your elected representatives and let them know how they can support law enforcement. Let them know that backing SB 230 is how they can help.

Treasurer’s Message

Timothy Davis
PORAC Treasurer

Law enforcement officers are often criticized for their interactions with three groups of people that continue to fill our streets and communities: the homeless, the mentally ill and those who are drug and/or alcohol dependent. There certainly are grounds to argue that many of these people are where they are because of the choices they have made, but we, as law enforcement officers, cannot ignore the fact that these groups draw away resources that traditionally have been used elsewhere. In many communities throughout our state, calls for service involving these groups are common, strain resources and are at higher risk of resulting in conflict.

Demand for police services in these areas continue to grow, despite many law enforcement agencies reallocating officers and resources to address these calls. This is not because law enforcement is failing. It is because all the other levels of government have failed.  Law enforcement professionals have long been called to do the jobs other government agencies have left undone, and this problem has been magnified in dealing with the homeless, mentally ill and chemically dependent. Law enforcement officers often go home discouraged because they are unable to stop an unrelenting tide of mental health and homeless calls and don’t have the resources they need to help these citizens end their downward spirals. 

Our officers have been given the unattainable task of solving a problem that no other level of government has succeeded in doing. When police interactions with the mentally ill, the homeless or the chemically dependent go bad, politicians grandstand and anti-police groups attack. But it is not the fault of the police. It is the fault of both society and government as a whole, which have not provided the solutions or the tools officers need to solve what has proven to be a difficult and growing problem. Law enforcement officers are only one member of a larger team tasked with solving this problem. Just as it is unfair to blame a team’s goalie when the opposing team scores, it is also unfair to blame law enforcement officers when an encounter goes bad if no other levels of government have assisted in our efforts and elected officials have failed to give us the resources we need.

This legislative cycle, our state elected leaders are faced with a choice on how to reduce negative outcomes in police encounters with the mentally ill, the homeless and those who are chemically dependent. Two plans have been introduced. One blames police officers, attacks their right to self-defense and seeks to punish police officers as murderers when they err in their spilt-second decision-making. The other, SB 230, gives our law enforcement officers the tools they need to succeed: training, policy improvements and, most important, resources to help the mentally ill, the homeless and the chemically dependent get off the streets and into services that can improve their situations. Law enforcement officers often feel like the goalie on the field alone.  It’s time for the rest of government and society to get on the field, play their positions and help us solve these critical issues as a team.

President’s Message

Brian Marvel
PORAC President

The members of the California Legislature were sworn in to kick off the new two-year session on December 3, and our statewide executive officers took office on or around January 7. PORAC was able to personally attend or send representatives to several of those swearing-in ceremonies. Vice President Damon Kurtz and I were present for the inauguration of Governor Gavin Newsom in Sacramento. Listening to the speeches by the leaders of California, I reflected on how difficult the atmosphere for public safety was in the Legislature last year and what that means for the road ahead.

Unfortunately, I anticipate that 2019 will be just as bad as 2018, or even worse when it comes to public safety. At the top of our list of concerns is the impending use-of-force legislation. Thankfully, Assembly Bill (AB) 931 did not make it out of the Rules Committee last year, but it will be revisited this year. PORAC is working very hard to ensure that we have a seat at the table and are part of the conversation to try to direct how any legislation on this topic will look. As I’m sure you are all aware by now, the advocates for AB 931 want to raise the standard for use of force above and beyond what was set by the Supreme Court in Graham v. Connor, from “reasonable” to “necessary.” In effect, this would create the expectation that you use all other means at your disposal before utilizing deadly force — even to the extent of getting in your vehicle and driving away! It must be said that I’ve yet to meet a law enforcement professional who wants to be involved in a shooting. However, I think it’s outrageous to give all of the legal advantage to the individuals who are trying to kill us when we are simply reacting to their escalation of violence. If the proponents of this dangerous measure were to achieve their goal, public safety would take a dramatic turn for the worse. Case in point: Chicago! I doubt those communities are happy with the daily carnage of murder and mayhem thanks to the ACLU.

Every member of our profession throughout the state needs to realize that they must become involved in this issue. I continue to urge all our members, family and friends to write or call your elected officials and let them know about your concerns. This proposed law would create a situation where any use of force could lead to an officer being criminally prosecuted, civilly sued or terminated from their job for trying to defend their lives or somebody else’s. All it would take is a use-of-force expert to say they would have handled it differently! No incident is ever the same, and for this reason, we will continue to fight this battle to preserve your safety and that of the public we’ve sworn to protect and serve. For additional information, please listen to my recently released podcast episode on this subject at PORAC.org/podcast.

As I write this, we’re mourning the news that three law enforcement officers were assassinated in the span of just five days across the U.S.: Shreveport Officer Chatéri Payne, who was shot outside her home while heading to work; Birmingham Sergeant Wytasha Carter, who was shot while investigating a vehicle burglary call; and right here in California, Davis Officer Natalie Corona, who was shot while responding to a traffic collision. In addition, we’ve seen two close calls where the officers survived only because a perpetrator’s weapon misfired — one in Sacramento in January and another in Illinois last year, from which the dash-cam footage was recently released. (Watch that video on the PORAC Facebook page if you haven’t already; it’s a sobering sight.)

These incidents show how rapidly events can evolve in our line of work, and how so much can go wrong in a split second. We’re already at a severe disadvantage in the face of such senseless acts of violence, and AB 931 would make the situation even worse. Those pushing this measure capitalize on the media’s perpetuation of the myth that deadly use of force by peace officers goes unpunished and is out of control — when the reality is, in a state of nearly 40 million people, of the millions of contacts that occurred between police and individuals last year, deadly force was involved in just 114 incidents. I think our profession is doing an incredible job. We will continually push for the necessary resources to make our profession safer, which in turn makes our communities safer. With that said, we’re pleased that the governor’s new budget gives POST an increase of $14.9 million from the General Fund, plus an additional $20 million for de-escalation and mental health crisis training. POST has been so underfunded for many years, it is nice to see the tide turning the other way.

Please, be safe out there and cover your partners. We extend our deepest condolences to all of the families, friends and colleagues of the officers we have lost in the line of duty. Their sacrifice will never be forgotten.

Vice President’s Message

Damon Kurtz
PORAC Vice President

One of the major benefits of PORAC membership is the ability to connect to other associations and network with colleagues on the challenges we face in law enforcement labor. Whether it’s at the bargaining table or in the political arena, having a group of our peers who can share experiences to help us with our own individual and association challenges is invaluable. PORAC strives to offer multiple opportunities for our members to meet and exchange information. From monthly local chapter meetings to our many training classes throughout the year to the annual Conference of Members, our goal is to make sure you have the tools you need to be successful. One of the best opportunities we provide in this area is the yearly PORAC Symposium, which is rapidly approaching.

The 2019 Symposium will be held at the Monterey Marriott April 9–10 (Tuesday and Wednesday). As always, we’ll present speakers and training opportunities designed to help you increase your knowledge about the pressing issues that affect our members now, as well as those that may loom in the future. This year’s event is focused on the theme of officer safety and wellness, a topic that seems particularly crucial as we mourn the deaths of 10 law enforcement officers nationwide within the first four weeks of January — five killed by gunfire, three struck by cars and two from heart attacks. This represents a huge increase in line-of-duty deaths compared to the same period in 2018 and a grim start to the new year. From ambush killings and traffic accidents to cardiovascular issues and PTSD, there are many physical and emotional threats facing our profession right now, and our training sessions will explore a variety of these issues as well as how we can best protect ourselves and others.

In addition to gaining knowledge from the experts, Symposium attendees will get to connect socially with their fellow members from around the state. PORAC is sponsoring a networking session for professional development on Tuesday evening, a great chance to catch up with old friends and make new ones while swapping stories and tips. These events truly demonstrate the beauty of PORAC — that there is strength in numbers when we join together for a common cause and share what we’ve learned with one another.

And what better way to achieve this than on a visit to the beautiful Central Coast of California? Especially if you haven’t experienced a Symposium before, I encourage you to join us this April. Even if your association can’t send a large contingent, it can be highly beneficial to have at least one representative participate and bring back what they’ve learned to share with the rest of your members and colleagues. Online registration is now open and it looks likely to be another sold-out event, so go to PORAC.org/events/symposium to sign up before our special room rate expires on March 15. I hope to see you in Monterey!

Treasurer’s Message

Timothy Davis
PORAC Treasurer

When I was elected president of the Sacramento Police Officers Association, I had a singular focus on negotiating our association’s next MOU. While I was aware that there were many other responsibilities of an association president, I had not given them much thought. During my first month as president, many of these other responsibilities reared their heads. I was immediately contacted by two mayoral candidates who wanted our association’s endorsement, I was called out to provide representation to officers on a critical incident, I had my first closed-door meeting with the chief of police, I responded to media requests for interviews, I began meeting with city council members who had been neglected by my association in the past and I held my first board meeting, in which a divided group argued over a very contentious issue. I was overwhelmed and, to be honest, I really didn’t know what I was doing.

I quickly realized that I could not do the job alone, but I was under the misguided belief that I should be able to run my organization completely by myself, without any training or assistance. On my first callout I didn’t even notify the other members of my association’s leadership team, because I didn’t think it would be right for me to bother them at night. One afternoon, a few weeks into my term, I became frustrated because I was having difficulty setting up an appointment to meet with my city council members. One of the staff members saw my frustration and said, “Why are you trying to do that? That’s my job.” I felt both stupid and relieved — stupid for not having asked and relieved to know that there were people just waiting to assist me in my duties and responsibilities.

I’m not sure if other association leaders have had similar experiences, but the truth is that most of us who volunteer to serve our membership begin with little knowledge on how to do the job well. While I struggled through my first few months, my true failure was being too proud to ask for help. After those first few weeks, I quickly rectified that error. I began to reach out for both assistance and knowledge. I learned that there are many experienced leaders out there who have been through similar experiences. These leaders also had to struggle at first, and they achieved their successes because others were there to help them in their times of need. Most of these leaders stand ready to help us when we need them.

I also discovered that I need training to learn how to better serve my membership. An association president needs to understand negotiations, public relations, media relations, politics, discipline process, leadership, mentoring, budgeting and many other diverse topics. Association leaders need to seek out training for themselves and for their board members. I searched for and began attending training that would help me be more successful in serving my membership. I passed on the knowledge I gained to my board and encouraged them to attend training, too.

My keys to understanding how to be successful in my responsibilities were conversations with my fellow association leaders and attending training. PORAC was instrumental in helping me in these two areas. I began attending my local chapter and other PORAC meetings, where I would see leaders of other associations in my region. I would take the opportunity to discuss issues affecting my association and gained great insight from my fellow leaders. I also began to attend PORAC training classes. At these classes, I not only received great instruction, but I was again able to meet with other association leaders to share and discuss issues that affected our members.

Even now, with over three years of experience in running my association, I still feel that there is much for me to learn. I still use the connections I have made at PORAC to discuss important issues with my fellow association leaders, and I continue to search out new training courses for myself and my association board. I would encourage those of you in leadership roles in your association to attend PORAC meetings and training. Participate and learn. Make new relationships with other leaders in your area and you will learn to be a better servant to your membership.

President’s Message

Brian Marvel
PORAC President

With the close of 2018 behind us, we welcome 2019 with a new set of goals and continued work on past projects. The Christmas holiday season gave us a chance to look back on our organization’s successes and the areas in which we need to strengthen. January is a good time to reset and look forward to the challenges ahead and we have quite a few.

Aside from fighting the continuing legislative bills that seek to attack the very work we do in protecting the public, I would like to focus on our training program. I firmly believe our associations and members should have more opportunities for training, to prepare ourselves for what we face every day as association leaders. PORAC offers five core training classes annually. Last year we added media training and brought back the line of duty death training. We are in the process of analyzing the feedback from both of those classes. It is my goal to add these two classes to our annual training curriculum.

As PORAC assesses our training program, I am looking at how effective our training is. Is it up to date? Timely? What other types of training should we be offering? With that in mind, I think it would be very beneficial for us to partner with the Force Science Institute. It was an important step to have Dr. Bill Lewinski speak about the science of shootings at the Conference of Members in November. The information is vital to us as we try to explain and have people understand use-of-force incidents. We are currently working with Force Science to begin holding two regularly scheduled trainings in California. We anticipate kicking these off in 2020. This partnership would allow Force Science to offer more classes in California, and PORAC members would save on travel costs by not having to fly out of state for the sessions. Keep an eye out for more details as we finalize this partnership and what it will look like.

On top of that, POST just launched their Innovations Grant Program. One of the categories for this grant program is officer wellness. In 2017, 140 officers committed suicide and some of the research regarding this subject says this is underreported. Yet less than 5% of departments have suicide-prevention programs. I know a lot of agencies are trying to address officer wellness, but it is incumbent upon associations to be the leaders and assist their agencies to implement these programs. The reality is we witness death and destruction daily and that takes a toll on us. I have directed our training manager, Claude Albers, to prepare a grant solicitation to kick this program off. If our proposal is accepted, I am hoping we can start the training in late 2019 or implement it as part of our 2020 curriculum.

In addition to looking at our program, I want to start branding PORAC’s training. We will be updating the logo and changing the name. I want to raise the bar and make our training even better. I am still working with Claude on creating a video-based training program. This would not only provide our members an opportunity to get training 24/7, but it also would entice them to attend our in-depth in-person training.

I know last year was very challenging for our profession. We lost several members of our family. All of them heroes serving their communities. We suffered major fires at the beginning and end of the year and had active-shooter incidents. The pace at which we’re doing things has increased. Demands on public safety have increased exponentially, yet the number of people wanting to join this distinguished profession has dropped off. A recent Washington Post article reported that nearly 66% of almost 400 police departments surveyed said their applicant pool had shrunk. We at PORAC will continue to fight to ensure the respect and dignity our members deserve. I want to welcome our new vice president, Damon Kurtz, Fresno POA, and treasurer, Timothy Davis, Sacramento POA, who officially took their seats January 1.

Best wishes for a safe and happy new year.