President’s Message

Brian Marvel
PORAC President

I write this month’s message in the wake of yet another tragic loss of an officer close to home.

On June 19, Sacramento Police Department Officer Tara O’Sullivan was killed in the line of duty while responding to a domestic violence call in north Sacramento. The 26-year-old officer had just graduated from the police academy and was still in field training when she was fatally shot trying to help a woman retrieve her belongings from her home. Described by her colleagues as a person with honor, integrity and commitment, O’Sullivan no doubt had a bright future ahead of her, but this senseless act of violence cut her promising career short. Her death marks the second young officer fatality in the Sacramento region this year after Davis Officer Natalie Corona was shot responding to a car crash in January. PORAC expresses its deepest sympathies and condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Officer O’Sullivan. We will never forget.

O’Sullivan’s passing comes about a month after we joined law enforcement at home and in our nation’s capital for Police Week ceremonies honoring the fallen, including eight California officers who died last year. And here we are again, affected by another loss in our own state, the third this year. As I mentioned in last month’s article, our profession remains one of the most dangerous out there, and studies have confirmed that ambushes and unprovoked attacks against officers are on the rise. It is increasingly evident that we have become targets for a lot of people — and it doesn’t matter if we’re on duty or off. Less than two weeks before the incident in Sacramento, in Los Angeles, Deputy Joseph Solano was off duty when he was fatally shot and died from the injuries he sustained in a seemingly random attack.

These devastating incidents are why it’s important that we advocate for legislation that helps peace officers better protect themselves and the communities we serve. Our top priority and most pressing bills are SB 230 and AB 392. Currently, each bill has been passed out of its respective house of origin to the other house, where they will go through the public safety and appropriations committees. Once they’ve been approved by the committees, they will be sent to the floors of the Senate and the Assembly for approval — which we anticipate will happen — and the governor will sign both pieces of legislation into law.

I know the battle over use-of-force legislation has been a long and bitter process at times, but ultimately, these two bills will place California at the forefront of this issue, making us leaders in the nation to minimize use-of-force incidents. What makes this legislation so important — one that other states can follow — is that it ensures that all peace officers will get the training they need, along with the funding and tools to facilitate that training, which has woefully lacked in the past 10-plus years. It finally appears that the elected officials are putting money toward something that has only been getting lip service. We’re still determining an implementation timeframe for the training components outlined in SB 230, but as of now, we’ve asked for two years. We hope the Legislature asks POST what they recommend. We must allow departments and agencies ample opportunity to meet these new standards in training. Hopefully, in August we’ll have additional information and updates regarding both of these bills.

Speaking of training, the 67th Annual Conference of Members is right around the corner. Conference is not only a great time to attend informative training sessions, meet face-to-face with your fellow members across the state and network, but it’s also the perfect time to get educated about what’s happening in Sacramento and Washington, D.C. I anticipate plenty of productive conversations about use-of-force legislation along with other bills we’ve been supporting or opposing. It’s important to get a handle on the laws that could potentially affect our profession, for better or worse. In addition, we will be highlighting the free training on wellness PORAC is offering statewide via the $200,000 grant we received from POST. I highly recommend that as many members as possible attend Conference, as you’ll be able to hear firsthand about the issues affecting you.

Vice President’s Message

Damon Kurtz
PORAC Vice President

With my first six months as your vice president in the books, I can say it has been both enjoyable and very challenging at the same time. It’s been a pleasure for me to meet with members around the state. I get to learn about each association, their respective challenges and their insights on issues directly related to PORAC. Obviously, the biggest challenge was stepping into the legislative battle regarding use of force with SB 230 and AB 392. Although I have always had an appreciation for how effective PORAC’s advocacy is, it was very enlightening to be part of it firsthand. As I have said in previous articles, there are some large associations in the state that do a fine job representing their members and their respective areas. But there is no other law enforcement organization that is as effective as PORAC when it comes to advocacy efforts. It’s the collective voice of our members that makes us so effective. Having associations small and large across the state, impacting every legislative district, gives us a tremendous voice when it comes to issues affecting law enforcement. I am truly humbled that I get to be a part of this and that you, the members, have shown faith in me and allowed me to represent you. For President Marvel and me, it’s not something we take for granted.

As we head into summer and the end of a very busy legislative fight regarding use of force, here at PORAC we turn our focus to the annual Conference. Every year, PORAC strives to provide the membership with quality training geared toward helping our member associations be successful. From classes such as Collective Bargaining, Internal Affairs and Association Leadership to our annual Symposium, it all culminates at the annual Conference. This event gives us an opportunity to meet with the membership and recap the previous year. It allows us to look at the organization’s successes and where we need improvement. It’s where the leadership of PORAC is installed and where the membership gives us the necessary feedback. As an association leader, Conference was where I made some of the most important contacts that helped me. Networking with association leaders across the state was invaluable to me. No matter the issue that may have come up in my association, there was always someone who had similar experiences with the same issues. The ability to draw upon those experiences to help navigate the challenges that come with being an association leader was something that I always looked forward to.

This year marks the 67th Annual Conference of Members, which will be held on November 22–24 at the JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa. It’s always the goal of PORAC to provide the Conference attendees with quality training on top of the annual reports and required business. It’s also a goal to provide a location that is desirable for the members to attend. This year’s location will not disappoint — the resort is truly beautiful. Hopefully, it will provide a balance of needed relaxation in between the important updates given during the general session. I hope to see you there. In the meantime, take care and be safe.

Treasurer’s Message

Timothy Davis
PORAC Treasurer

By the time this article is printed, I will have reached the six-month mark as PORAC treasurer. This is the sixth article I have written, and over the last six months, my articles have covered a variety of topics. I received an email from a member earlier this month asking why my treasurer articles were not about being a treasurer. Until that email, I wasn’t even sure anyone read my articles. A week later, I ran into a member who said he recognized my face from my articles and stated he enjoyed my articles. My wife, who was with me at the time, was surprised and asked me if “people actually read those?” Until this month I wasn’t sure. As for the focus of my future articles, I will continue to cover any topic that I feel best serves the interests of PORAC and its members.

Over the last six months, I have discovered that the role of PORAC treasurer is much more than just keeping track of the money. While the title of “treasurer” clearly conveys my financial responsibilities, those responsibilities are just the beginning of my obligations. Since my election as treasurer, I have been working to complete my financial obligations, and I can attest that the finances of PORAC are sound. Over the last six months, I have completed a myriad of tasks associated with my responsibilities. I have met with the PAC attorneys to help prepare our required PAC filings. I chaired a meeting of the Fiscal Management Committee in which we reviewed a year’s worth of reimbursement requests. I chaired a meeting of the Budget Committee where we prepared and amended the first draft budget for 2020 and reviewed the compensation of the PORAC staff. I have met with PORAC’s investment adviser to ensure our investments continue to meet PORAC’s investment guidelines while also ensuring PORAC has the appropriate cash on hand to conduct the day-to-day needs of a statewide labor organization. I have met frequently with the PORAC staff to ensure the finances are sound and that the staff is properly completing their financial tasks. I directed the creation of an electronic reimbursement system to replace PORAC’s outdated paper system, and I am working to finalize its implementation by the end of the year.

These financial responsibilities are only a part of my responsibility as an officer of PORAC. When I ran for treasurer last fall, I ran on a platform of using my role as treasurer for more than just managing the money. The treasurer is one of only three positions elected statewide by the entire membership of PORAC, and as such, the position commands much respect both inside and outside of PORAC. I have been working with both President Marvel and Vice President Kurtz to leverage my position as treasurer and my location in Sacramento to increase the public reach of PORAC. Under President Marvel’s direction, I have accompanied him in representing PORAC and I have represented PORAC in instances when he or Vice President Kurtz have not been able to. The treasurer is also one of 11 members of the Executive Committee. The Executive Committee is the backbone of PORAC and is the body most responsible for directing the path of PORAC, along with the full Board of Directors. I take my role on the Executive Committee quite seriously. Our dialogue at those meetings helps us vet ideas and help PORAC achieve its mission.

The treasurer of PORAC is an important responsibility and I am honored to be able to serve in the position. The position of treasurer, however, is about much more than just keeping track of the money. It is about advancing the interests of PORAC and the interests of the law enforcement officers it serves. I am here to serve in any way I am needed.  

Treasurer’s Message

Timothy Davis
PORAC Treasurer

Those of us in leadership roles in law enforcement unions often face the difficult task of interacting in the political process with our corresponding bodies of government. Whether we like it or not, as public employees, we must deal with the government and the politicians who control it. Unfortunately, we do not get to control who is elected to manage the government that employs us, but we can have input in the process. The level and type of input law enforcement unions have with local and state governments are as diverse as the strategies and opinions we have about the political process.

If I were to ask the membership of PORAC or the membership of my local union in Sacramento how to best interact with elected politicians, I would get a diverse chorus of opinions. There are those who think politicians are evil and that we should never talk to them. There are those who see their political party as good and the others as evil, and they wonder why we don’t just pick their party and refuse to meet with the other. There are those who think we should take strict positions and refuse to negotiate, and there are those who think we should cave in at every opportunity.

Selecting a political strategy when representing such a diverse group of members, all with very different political ideologies, can be difficult. At local association board meetings and in our various chapters, our members share their wide range of opinions on how we can best engage politically. Even among the members of the PORAC Board of Directors, we hear very divergent ideas for weathering the political storm we encounter at the State Capitol. These heartfelt and often emotional discussions are good for our organizations and help us carve the best path forward.

We, through our local associations, chapters and PORAC, must engage in the political process or lose our ability to influence policies that directly affect us. Despite the ugliness of politics and the nature of some of the politicians we are forced to deal with, we must participate in the process. Even if our only hope is to mitigate the harm that certain proposed legislation aims to cause, we must still try. This means interacting with politicians from both parties; it means interacting with both the friends of law enforcement and those who stand in opposition to our mission and purposes.

Politics is about relationships. We must establish relationships with those in political power regardless of how we feel about them or how they feel about us. We cannot wait until there is a critical topic up for discussion before we show up in their offices.  Relationships must be established before they are needed. Recurring meetings, perhaps quarterly or monthly, allow union leaders and elected officials to keep in touch, establish rapport and discuss what issues are most important. These meetings should not focus solely on topics that are important to the union; they must also include discussions on topics important to the politician representing them. Listening to a politician’s wants and needs will help you to find the intersection between their vision and your goals. Focus on the common ground. With some creativity, you may be able to get them to champion legislation that will benefit you. 

As we plan our political strategies, it is important to remember what the missions of our organizations are and to focus on those topics that further the association’s core goals. We cannot allow ourselves to be drawn off topic. Our members joined our associations because they agree with the association’s mission. Taking positions on political issues outside our core mission will both alienate our membership and dilute the strength of the positions we take that are in actual furtherance of our mission. Sometimes we can endorse legislation or ideas outside our core mission that helps us to build beneficial relationships with politicians or other community organizations, but this should only be done when we can do so without conflicting with our own mission and without alienating our membership or relationships with other important political stakeholders.

Managing our political message can be difficult. We must present a message that is free of confusion and conflict. When possible, law enforcement should present a united message with well-thought-out talking points. Presenting conflicting messaging should be avoided. An example of a conflict in messaging is advocating for both higher pay and increased staffing. A city council presented with both requests and limited funds will resolve the conflict in their own favor, often by declining salary increases in favor of ensuring needed staffing. The conflict in messaging can be avoided by focusing on one message at a time. Simplifying our messaging and focusing only on our most important requests can help us achieve better results.

The political process is difficult to navigate, but our involvement is critical to the success of law enforcement. We must engage in the process or get left behind. Our detractors are very active in politics; that means our involvement is crucial to counterbalance their anti-police advocacy. PORAC is active in the process at the state level and is here to support you in your local efforts.

President’s Message

Brian Marvel
PORAC President

Last month’s state and national law enforcement memorial ceremonies were a sobering reminder that our profession continues to be one of the most dangerous out there. In California, the names of eight officers who died in the line of duty last year and two who died in previous years were added to the California Peace Officers’ Memorial at the State Capitol. In Washington, D.C., 371 officers who died in the line of duty — including 158 who died in 2018 — were added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. PORAC joined law enforcement nationwide in not only honoring the service and sacrifice of these brave men and women but also paying respects to the families, friends and colleagues they left behind. We will never forget!

In the wake of these memorials, we should be thinking about how we conduct business. Are we being safe? Are we using contact and cover? Are we keeping our colleagues safe? The reason I bring this up is that the U.S. Department of Justice, FBI, in collaboration with West Virginia University released a report titled, “Ambushes and Unprovoked Attacks: Assaults on Our Nation’s Law Enforcement Officers.” The data from this report reveals that attacks without warning have steadily increased over the last 30 years. PORAC shared this report at the end of May. I hope you give it a read. If we don’t protect ourselves, no one will.

Our state’s poignant memorial ceremony set the tone for our meeting with our lawmakers during our annual Legislative Day with the Board of Directors. PORAC leadership had the opportunity to meet with legislators to discuss the most pressing issues facing our members and public safety. Of course, the status of use-of-force legislation dominated discussions, as SB 230 was recently amended. In addition, we had to let legislators know the coalition supporting AB 392 had not met with us or given any indication that they wanted to amend their bill, which was contrary to what the author said in the Assembly Public Safety Committee hearing. After all our meetings and spending most of, if not the entire day at the Capitol, everyone felt it was quite successful and informative.

On that note, you may have noticed that for the past few months we have been utilizing all forms of communication to educate our members about the battle over use-of-force legislation and its importance to our profession. There have been magazine articles, On the Job With PORAC podcast episodes, e-blasts and social media posts dedicated to giving our members the most relevant, up-to-date commentary and news about this important issue. We even made it easy for members to reach out to their legislators with a custom digital action alert portal.

We send out these messages not to sound like a broken record, but to keep you informed and knowledgeable about legislation affecting you. It’s all part of the job of PORAC’s leadership, which is to educate, organize and advocate for your interests on the local, state and national levels and to ensure that your rights as peace officers are protected. However, we can’t do this without you.

I know folks are extremely busy with their work and families, but these uncertain times require us to be involved. If you aren’t staying engaged on the issues affecting your career and the profession you and I love, then you better be OK with having people with no understanding of law enforcement determining how we do our jobs, what types of training we receive and what our best practices should be. Apathy, indifference and nonparticipation will be the death of our pay, benefits and working conditions.

Members of the PORAC Board of Directors, along with chapter and association leaders, are putting in 40-plus hours on the job, participating in union business and handling PORAC duties on top of balancing family life — they need your help. The most basic thing members can do is attend your chapter meetings, which exist to keep you apprised of local, state and federal issues and provide you with an open forum to discuss them. What we have seen last year and this year is just the tip of the iceberg.

With a series of legislative battles brewing, we need you to step up and do what you can. Help us help you. It’s as simple as attending chapter meetings. As you’ll read later in this issue, the Los Angeles South Chapter reports that one of its biggest challenges is getting members to attend meetings. This problem is, unfortunately, far from unique. We’ve had chapters tell us time and time again that their member attendance has been dropping. If you are attending chapter meetings, I challenge you to bring two members who haven’t attended and then challenge them to bring two members and so on.

What we also need you to do is talk to your families and colleagues about issues affecting law enforcement and communicate your views to your local legislators via email, snail mail or phone calls. What we have found to be one of the most effective influences on our elected leaders is hearing from their constituents, especially those who vote and donate! As a constituent, a member of PORAC or a supporter of public safety, your voice goes a long way and helps us in Sacramento and Washington, D.C. We are the largest law enforcement organization in California and the largest statewide association in the nation, let’s make it count!

Thank you for all your support!

Vice President’s Message

Damon Kurtz
PORAC Vice President

As association leaders, we often focus our efforts on contract negotiations and issues related to them, such as pay and benefits, and that’s for good reason. Our members elect us to represent them and to negotiate on their behalf for the best possible pay and benefits. The demands put upon us can often feel unobtainable, and the pressure we impose on ourselves to provide successful contracts can take its toll. The pressures we feel are put into perspective every year when we honor our fallen officers during the California Peace Officers’ Memorial Ceremony.

As we stand at attention and salute the loved ones of the fallen officers, it puts things in perspective and reminds me of the real reason why our associations exist. The vast majority of associations were created to be widows and orphans organizations to support the families of our fallen officers. These memorial ceremonies are a somber reminder of the dangerous profession in which we were all called to serve. It is difficult to control our emotions. We not only feel for the fallen officers and their families, but we empathize with them as well, seeing the faces of our own families as we pay tribute to the fallen and their survivors. There is an often-repeated saying, “The officer carries the badge, but the family carries the weight.”

It’s a sad reality for the law enforcement profession today that there has been a paradigm shift in how we are portrayed by the mainstream media and by our elected officials. There is a false narrative that law enforcement is a rogue element of government with an epidemic of use-of-force incidents. For those of us in the profession, we know that we are among the most scrutinized professions in the world. Very few professions operate under the same amount of oversight as law enforcement. However, officers do not shy away from this scrutiny or oversight. The only caveat is we welcome that scrutiny so long as we are not being measured by an impossible standard. During this year’s CPOMF Ceremony, Newman Police Chief Randy Richardson referenced the state legislators when he said, “California’s ‘outrageous’ policies are making officers’ jobs more difficult.” He believes it will cost more lives like Corporal Ronil Singh. I wholeheartedly agree with him.

PORAC has brought forward a statewide effort to battle such policies and legislation. Although many of our individual associations have a strong voice in their respective areas of the state, it’s our collective, unified voice that allows us to be heard loud and clear by lawmakers. For me, I truly appreciate the ability to draw on the knowledge and experience our member associations bring to the table. The challenge with any collective is managing our individual goals from that of the group. Many times, as association leaders, we want to highlight the importance of our individual organizations. The reality is, every one of our associations is important to their respective members and we should represent them with pride. As a federation of individual associations, we should also take equal pride in our collective voice — “United we stand, divided we fall.”

It is my and President Marvel’s goal to make sure PORAC is effective in its advocacy and that our member associations are provided the benefits they need to succeed. We will continue to provide the best training possible to assist our members in leading their associations. This year, we are developing training focused on officer wellness, something that is often overlooked. Later this year, we will unveil a PORAC crowdfunding mechanism similar to GoFundMe and other online fundraising programs. PORAC will provide a way to vet charitable causes and allow for the use of PORAC’s statewide presence to boost individual associations in their efforts to assist officers in need. It is our hope that providing the best quality benefits and training will allow the members and their associations to focus on what’s most important — the members themselves and their families.

As always, if you have questions or concerns, please feel free to contact President Marvel or me. Thank you and stay safe out there.

President’s Message

Brian Marvel
PORAC President

As you’ll read later in this issue, our 2019 Symposium in Monterey was a resounding success. We had the largest attendance in our history. I’d like to thank all the presenters who came out to speak to our members. I give special thanks to Ann Carrizales, who had a spectacular presentation on resiliency. The Meadows Place (Texas) Police officer spoke movingly about what she went through after a 2013 vehicle stop led to a gunfight that injured her and she still arrested the shooters. An amazing story! Also, I want to thank Joe Gamaldi, president of the Houston Police Officers’ Union, who spoke about pay parity issues, something that California could eventually face.

When I took over as PORAC president, my goal was to make sure symposiums would be as informative and forward-looking as possible and not focus strictly on current legal issues. This worked out well this year. One day after Symposium, a Los Angeles School Police Department sergeant was injured in an off-campus critical incident. Carrizales tweeted an offer of assistance. Little did she know that the sergeant had attended her presentation just a day earlier!

“Ann — he told me today that your presentation on Wednesday prepared him for what to expect. We are very appreciative!” tweeted P.J. Webb, PORAC’s Specialized Police Association Coalition chair.

No one ever wants an officer to be involved in an officer-involved shooting, but thanks to Carrizales, we have a PORAC member who now has the tools and knowledge to navigate their way through this experience.

As police union leaders and members, we need to start making sure that our agencies have wellness units or provide ample opportunities for members experiencing issues at work or at home to seek resources and assistance to help them succeed in this profession.

I hope everybody who attended Symposium had a good time and I look forward to seeing you at the Conference of Members in November.

With this being May, it’s a time to give special honor to our fallen brothers and sisters. Local and state memorials lead up to Police Week and the National Peace Officers Memorial Day in Washington, D.C., on May 15. As we reflect on brothers and sisters we have lost, we want to remember them, their dedication to service, their communities and what they lived for. We must continue to celebrate their lives and the sacrifices they made. If you haven’t attended the state or national memorial ceremony before, I highly recommend that you do. Every officer should attend at least one in their career. This is a great opportunity to demonstrate solidarity and to show the families of the fallen that they’re not forgotten. Remember, when you pin on the badge or star, you become part of a family. In this family, we don’t forget our fallen.

As these ceremonies take place, we have to be aware of what’s happening at the State Capitol, where two competing use-of-force measures, SB 230 and AB 392, are being hotly debated. We need to be able to protect ourselves and the communities that we serve. Unfortunately, many legislators have never walked in our shoes, and not very many of them have gone through simulation training. Yet some of them are eager and willing to change the policies that allow us to defend ourselves in critical and, oftentimes, deadly incidents. As we pay our respects to our fallen brothers and sisters, we hope the legislation we’re supporting, SB 230, wins the day, because nobody in law enforcement wants to be involved in a deadly incident. Our approach to trying to mitigate deadly force incidents is to ensure that law enforcement has the tools and resources necessary to allow us to do our jobs in protecting the community. SB 230 is an evidence-based approach that focuses on adopting nationally recognized best practices with proven results. AB 392, on the other hand, has one sole goal: to criminalize officers. If you haven’t used our one-click activation portal, please visit www.porac.org/sb230. We need your help.

In closing, take this memorial month of May to better reconnect with your family and friends. Take the time to appreciate and show affection for your loved ones. Take care of yourself and your partners. No one knows when our last shift will be.

Be safe!

Vice President’s Message

Damon Kurtz
PORAC Vice President

Why PORAC?

My primary role as PORAC vice president is to recruit and retain members. Often, I am asked, “What are the benefits of PORAC?” I think the No. 1 thing I point out is, “PORAC is cops looking out for cops,” or as Past President, Ron Cottingham always said, “PORAC has your six.”  With our membership at over 75,000 now, we bring a strong voice to issues here in the state as well as nationally. It’s because of our diverse membership that we are able to give a voice to the issues of the smallest associations with fewer than 10 officers to the large associations with more than 1,000. The resources we provide for our membership are simply the best.  Because we are made up of working officers, we are always striving to offer a better benefit to our members. Whether it’s providing legal defense through the PORAC Legal Defense Fund Trust (LDF), disability or medical insurance through the Insurance and Benefits Trust (IBT), retiree medical savings through the Retiree Medical Trust (RMT) or providing additional retiree benefits through our Retired Associate Membership (RAM) program, we provide benefits that are second to none.

It’s easy to point out the programs and the benefits but where I think PORAC really shines is the ability to provide learning and networking opportunities to the members. Whether it’s at a specific training class or at a larger function like the PORAC Conference of Members, PORAC provides a venue where association leaders can discuss issues specific to their organizations and issues related to all of law enforcement. Bottom line: PORAC tries to provide every association with the resources to be successful. The only thing that gets in our way sometimes is our own egos. We tend to have strong egos in our profession and we are often unwilling to deviate from our belief that we can do it better than everyone else in the room. But we should take a step back and recognize we are all leaders in our own way with something to offer. There’s an old saying, “United we stand, divided we fall.” PORAC stands united with our member associations from small to large, ready to defend our chosen profession.

As I write this article, we are preparing for our annual legislative day here in Sacramento on May 7. Every year in conjunction with the California Peace Officers’ Memorial ceremonies, we follow up with our legislators on issues related to law enforcement. For those who are paying attention, we will hit the capitol with our message regarding the current proposed legislation on use of force. AB 392, authored by Assemblymember Shirley Weber, is a dangerous bill that does nothing to promote better outcomes. It only seeks a higher standard as it relates to deadly force in order to provide a pathway to prosecute law enforcement. Conversely, SB 230 —  authored by Senator Anna M. Caballero and sponsored by PORAC — has reasonable amendments to the laws regarding use of force by bringing the language up to current legal standards and requiring all agencies to have minimum requirements in their prospective agency policies/procedure manual. You can help us by speaking to your local elected officials and state representatives about these two bills. Tell them they need to support SB 230 and oppose AB 392. Here is a link to email your state representatives: www.porac.org/sb230.

As always, if you have questions or concerns, we are here to represent you, so feel free to contact President Marvel or me. Thank you and be safe out there!

Treasurer’s Message

Timothy Davis
PORAC Treasurer

Every May, those of us in the law enforcement community and those who support us join together to remember and honor our fallen officers.  At ceremonies in our local communities, at the State Capitol in Sacramento and at the National Peace Officers Memorial Day in Washington, D.C., we take a moment of silence and then add the names of our fallen brothers and sisters to memorials, vowing to always remember their sacrifices. In California, we will be adding to our state memorial in Sacramento the names of eight officers who died in the line of duty in 2018. Eight officers who, in their dedicated service to their communities, gave their lives to protect us and our families.

We honor our fallen officers in somber, tradition-filled ceremonies each May because we want to recognize their ultimate sacrifices and remember their lives.  Whether we are attending these ceremonies to honor a fallen friend and partner or whether we are standing in solidarity with our brothers and sisters who have, May is always an important time in our law enforcement family. It is an opportunity for us to reflect on our own lives and a time to remember the lives of both our recent and past fallen officers. 

Last year in the United States, 158 officers were lost in the line of duty. One hundred and fifty-eight officers who did not return home to their families. One hundred and fifty-eight families who lost their loved one. One hundred and fifty-eight departments who lost a brother or sister officer. One hundred and fifty-eight gaps left in our communities. Each of these fallen officers were individuals who made the ultimate sacrifice and their death leaves a void in their department, in their community and in their family. 

As we all look back on our careers, many of us have crossed paths with individuals whose names are included on the walls and memorials in our communities, states and nation. We have pledged in the past to never forget their sacrifices. Take time this month, as we honor our newly fallen, to also remember those whom we have lost in the past. Find ways to honor their memories by giving service to others. Many organizations could use your support. State and local memorial groups help us remember the fallen. Survivor service groups like Concerns of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S.) allow us to serve the surviving families and co-workers. Peer support and chaplaincy programs allow us to serve the mental and spiritual health of affected co-workers. Countless community groups allow you to serve families, children and members of your local community. Find an opportunity to serve in memory of those who have gone before us.

Our law enforcement community is full of amazing and wonderful people —  men and women willing to lay down their lives to protect their communities. Their stories of bravery and service continue to amaze me. Don’t let their story die with you. Find ways to preserve and share their story with the next generation. Also, find ways to honor their memory through continued service to your community, your family and your fellow officers.

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.