Vice President’s Message

Damon Kurtz

PORAC Vice President

This September marks the 20th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the U.S. Pentagon. It’s hard to believe it was 20 years ago — it was such a profound moment, and I still remember that day vividly. At the time, I was a San Luis Obispo County deputy assigned as a court bailiff. I was preparing to go to work when I received a call to turn on the news. Like so many, I was in shock as to what I saw. The World Trade Center was billowing smoke from a commercial jet striking it. As I watched the coverage, I watched live as the second plane struck the building. I remember going to work that day as the details of the event became available, continuing to be shocked and upset as to what happened. In the days and months that followed, the one positive of that day was the patriotism and solidarity we had as a nation. Why it took such a tragic event for all of us to realize we were Americans first makes no sense to me. I hope that everyone takes the time to reflect and remember the lives lost that day. 

Unfortunately, we eventually devolved into the divisive, politically charged environment we are in today. It seems our government is almost devoid of true leaders who are willing to do the right thing versus the right thing for their political party or elected seat.

We see this today with police reform issues. Whether it’s divisive rhetoric or introducing controversial legislation, it seems no one is looking for true solutions. Let’s face it — if the problems were solved, there would be no controversy and no media coverage to spin the rhetoric. As I write this article, we are days away from the end of the legislative session here in California. It was another year full of dangerous and ill-conceived legislation designed not to address the real issues, but only to garner political support. We have stated repeatedly that this will have a negative impact on the safety of our communities. Well, it seems the “chickens have come home to roost.” Years of anti-law enforcement rhetoric and legislation have created a perfect storm. With violent crime on the rise around the country and a national shortage in officer staffing, those who pushed the rhetoric are now worried about their reelections. The same officials who were on the “defund movement” are now changing their stance as they realize their elected seat is in jeopardy. Law enforcement is not opposed to reform as long as it’s done in a fair and unbiased manner. We will always be willing to discuss how we can have better outcomes.

As we enter the fall months, that means our annual Conference is right around the corner. This will be the first large event we have hosted since the pandemic began. Our last Conference or symposium was held in 2019, which seems like eons ago. We are excited to bring Conference back to the members in Monterey this year. It will be nice to see some familiar faces and to meet new ones. I’ve said this many times before; the Conference is the single best event for law enforcement labor to network among the associations, law firms and industry professionals. If you cannot make it to Conference this year, the annual symposium will be held in April 2022 in Dana Point. I hope I get to see you at one of these events. In the end, it’s the membership that makes PORAC so strong and effective. It’s truly a pleasure when we get to see everyone in person.  Virtual meetings may be the norm these days, but nothing beats the communication of a face-to-face conversation. As always, stay safe and healthy out there!

President’s Message

BRIAN R. MARVEL

PORAC President

20th Anniversary of 9/11

It’s hard to believe 20 years have passed since the terror attacks on September 11, 2001. It was a day that I am sure everyone can remember exactly what they were doing when the news broke. The devastation, loss of life and how our lives dramatically changed on several levels after that attack will never be forgotten. As the solemn 9/11 anniversary fast approaches, lets come together, united, to honor the victims, including the occupants of the twin towers, the Pentagon, the passengers inside the hijacked airplanes, the heroes who stood up against the terrorists and all the incredible first responders who ran unflinchingly into the burning and collapsing buildings to save lives. As we commemorate this fateful day, let’s be resolute in defending and keeping America safe from future terror attacks. Never forget!

 

PORAC Advocates for Members at the Federal Level

PORAC is proud to be a leader for the law enforcement community in advocating for our members at the state level — but our efforts go far beyond that as we also work to ensure our voice is heard at the federal level, weighing in on federal reform measures that will have an impact on peace officers nationwide.

As we’ve seen in the past year, calls for police reform have been a nationwide issue. In response, federal elected officials introduced H.R. 1280, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which is a legislative package that reforms policing throughout the country. While our nation’s leaders are likely not going to reach a deal on this package this year, PORAC remains committed to advocating now and into the future for the funding and resources peace officers need to carry out their duties safely and effectively. Importantly, we also remain vehemently opposed to any changes to qualified immunity, or U.S. Code Section 242, that would make it easier to penalize officers and would do nothing to actually improve policing or public safety outcomes.

To inform federal policies, last year, PORAC released our comprehensive Policy Platform (tinyurl.com/sa8pjs6p), which provides our experience and knowledge as a resource to collaboratively develop the best path forward for policing in America. The Policy Platform offers many recommendations, including establishing national standards for all officers in order to clearly define when force can be used, creating national training and recruitment standards to ensure officers are prepared to meet the national standard, providing the necessary tools and resources, and allocating funds to implement those standards and training.

To continue this dialogue and advocate for the smart policies and initiatives that we know from our 67 years of experience will not only improve policing, but will actually help bridge the divide between the law enforcement profession and the communities
we serve.

PORAC also recently placed an op-ed in The Hill, titled “Success on Police Reform Hinges on Funding, Not Defunding Law Enforcement.” I encourage you to read the op-ed online, which can be found at tinyurl.com/yd7zrbzw. In the article, I explain and outline that smart policies and initiatives, if not coupled with the funding to support them and the political will to see them through, will go nowhere. If we really want to improve public safety outcomes and repair trust in law enforcement, PORAC strongly supports:

  • Minimum recruitment standards that will ensure we hire the best people for the job
  • Minimum training standards so that all peace officers in the United States meet minimum standards of competency and ethical behavior
  • New programs that pair officers with social workers and mental health professionals
  • Investing in programs to help increase the diversity of the law enforcement profession
  • Incentivizing higher education through scholarship and grant programs

While there is still a lot of work to do and calls for police reform will continue, we are hopeful that we can move forward with sound solutions like these at the federal level that will best serve our officers and communities, and we look forward to continuing to advocate for our members in California and nationally.

 

Celebrating Labor Day

As we celebrate Labor Day this month, it’s important to remember this holiday as a time to recognize the many contributions workers have made to America’s strength, prosperity and well-being — especially public safety officers. I want to thank the men and women who have taken an oath to serve and protect our communities and have dedicated their lives to a noble profession that makes this country a better, safer place. You’re the best-trained officers this country has ever seen, and your contributions are unmatched in lending to the qualities of this country that make it a great place to live. Thank you — and especially thank you to our members who must work over the long weekend to keep our communities safe. Happy Labor Day!

 

Grand Opening of PORAC’s New Headquarters

We moved! PORAC celebrated the grand opening of our new headquarters in Sacramento on Monday, August 9, as we held our first full in-person Board of Directors meeting in over a year. It was exciting to have all of PORAC’s leaders back together in one room to discuss the many efforts underway to support you, our members. We’re thrilled to be in the new space as our organization continues to grow, allowing us to adapt, evolve and provide us new ways to engage and interact with the membership. The new facility will allow us to better serve the law enforcement community in California and beyond.

Vice President’s Message

Damon Kurtz

PORAC Vice President

Heading into August, we are winding down this year’s legislative session. This year has been one of the busiest to date for PORAC; we tracked over 40 bills that we had an “active oppose” position on. Luckily, the majority of those bills are no longer moving forward, or we were able to negotiate amendments that addressed our concerns and have removed our opposition. We continue to negotiate for amendments on Senate Bill 2, which creates a law enforcement licensing program through CA POST. As we have said on multiple occasions, we at PORAC do not oppose a licensing program as long as the process for providing and revoking the license is fair. That is still not the case with the current language, and we continue to work toward that goal. Currently, 46 other states have a law enforcement licensing program, and it’s a little surprising that California does not have one. I am confident that in the end we will be able to create a program that is fair and equitable.

On the federal front, we continue to engage with our elected officials at the national level on several issues, but the most pressing issue remains the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. Our conversations have been consistent with those in negotiations to retain the current standards in qualified immunity. Our position on law enforcement reform at the national level should be about creating national minimum standards for training and policies, much like we have here in California. Punitive legislation will not address the issues in law enforcement. PORAC will continue to insert ourselves in these issues to make sure your voices are heard. As always, we encourage you as associations and individuals to continue to engage your elected leaders on the issues that affect us all.

PORAC training classes are back in action, and it’s been nice to finally see our members in person again. This year’s Annual Conference of Members is rapidly approaching, make sure you register before it sells out. This year’s Conference will be in Monterey, and there will be something for everyone. Aside from the normal business conducted at Conference, there are a number of local attractions to keep you occupied. Whether it’s taking in a round of golf, visiting Cannery Row, Alvarado Street or the aquarium, there is something for everyone. I say it often, but the annual Conference is the best place to network with your peers, attorneys and industry experts. We look forward to seeing you there.

Something new that we have been doing at PORAC is looking for innovative ways to market ourselves to the public. Traditionally, we have only focused our outreach on our membership and the law enforcement community. Unfortunately, in this environment, we have to be more proactive in our efforts to be heard, whether it’s on the political or the public relations front. We need to do more to make sure that the public sees a professional representation of law enforcement labor in the media and in politics. We have recently started to use unconventional ways to get the PORAC brand out there so that we can be seen by those unfamiliar with law enforcement labor. We recently partnered with Kyle Weatherman, a NASCAR driver on the Xfinity Series races. Weatherman is a staunch supporter of law enforcement, and we have sponsored his car on a few races. Our race in March received national coverage as Weatherman’s car with the PORAC logo was featured in the NASCAR ads. Generating public support and a visible public image has influence with our elected officials here in California and in Washington, D.C. Our next race will be September 25 in Las Vegas.

August is also the time for PORAC region meetings and elections. If you have an interest in who is representing your region on the Executive Committee or on one of the PORAC trusts, make sure you attend your respective region meeting to participate. August 9 will be the official opening of and the first full Board of Directors meeting at the new PORAC Headquarters. The new building will allow us to hold larger trainings, Board meetings and political fundraisers that were unable to be conducted at our previous location. I look forward to seeing all of you soon at one of these events.

As always, stay safe and healthy out there!

President’s Message

BRIAN R. MARVEL

PORAC President

Last month, California’s Attorney General (AG) Rob Bonta announced the release of initial guidelines and protocols for the implementation of Assembly Bill 1506. I wanted to take this month’s message to provide you with some background on this legislation and explain how it will be implemented, as I think it is important for our members and the law enforcement community to understand. I would also like to point out that while PORAC did not support this bill or agree to the protocols now being implemented by the attorney general’s office, California law enforcement has an obligation to comply with the new law.

AB 1506 requires the California Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate all incidents of an officer-involved shooting resulting in the death of an unarmed civilian in the state. Under AB 1506, the DOJ will work independently from local police agencies — who have previously investigated these incidents — and, upon request from a law enforcement agency, will review the local agency’s use-of-force policy and make recommendations for improvements. Most importantly, it is critical that any informal practices or unwritten policies be promptly put in writing and that copies of them be included in the investigative report, as state investigators may be required to defer to local policies.

Understanding the obligations this new law imposes can be challenging. As PORAC continues to work with our legal team to clarify the DOJ’s role and responsibilities under this new law, the following represents our understanding of the law’s mandate.

The law addresses only officer-involved shootings, or “qualified events,” that result in the death of “an unarmed civilian.” An officer-involved shooting that results in a suspect being hospitalized and injured but recovering from those injuries, even if the person was “unarmed” within the meaning of the law is not a “qualifying event.”

Additionally, there are nuances of the definition of an “unarmed civilian” that are important to understand and consider. An “unarmed civilian” is anyone “not in possession of a deadly weapon.” A deadly weapon would include objects such as knives, box cutters, metal knuckles, screwdrivers, hammers, baseball bats and clubs. In addition, all firearms and BB/pellet guns, even if unloaded or inoperable, are considered “deadly weapons” within the meaning of the law. However, “replica firearms” are not considered deadly weapons unless being used to cause death or great bodily injury. Objects that have legitimate non-weapon purposes can be considered deadly weapons when, based upon all circumstances, they are being used in a manner likely to produce death or great bodily injury.

The DOJ will be considered the “lead investigating agency” in an investigation of these events. The local district attorney’s office of the county where the officer-involved shooting occurred will work alongside the DOJ. The local law enforcement agency may also work alongside the DOJ. Again, this is why it is critical that any informal practices or unwritten polices be put in writing, as local policies will be deferred to in almost all instances. In addition, once the DOJ investigation is completed, the AG will do a criminal review of that report and file charges if warranted.

Proponents of AB 1506 argue that it will provide more transparency around officer-involved shootings of an unarmed citizen — one of the most devastating and challenging events for both citizens and officers. The law is based on a theory that turning these investigations over to a state agency will ensure that the investigation proceeds without any undue influence or bias resulting from local pressures and competing interests. The decision whether or not to criminally prosecute an officer will also be removed from local officials. However, this ignores the deep understanding and experience local law enforcement and prosecutorial agencies have within their own communities — experience and knowledge that could be important context to have while evaluating these incidents. Also, only a political neophyte believes the AG’s office is not political.

PORAC is working with the DOJ to provide recommendations that will assist with the implementation of these new protocols. While we may disagree with the premise that a state-level investigation is necessary, we certainly anticipate needing to work out some of the finer points along the way. We know the vast majority of officer-involved shootings are justified and that the attorney general’s office will likely find what we have already learned at the local level — that officers do their jobs right and do not engage in deadly officer-involved shootings unless absolutely necessary.

Our priority at PORAC is our members, and we are working to ensure these new AB 1506 provisions do not impede officers’ ability to perform their duties safely and effectively. We know there may still be some confusion as we wait and see how these investigations and the DOJ’s new role will play out. Rest assured that PORAC is highly involved in these important conversations about how this new legislation will impact law enforcement and public safety. As we learn more, we will continue to keep you updated.

Treasurer’s Message

Shawn Welch

PORAC Treasurer

Over half the year has passed, and 2021 has proven to be just as crazy as 2020. COVID is in the news every day, the stock market is up and down with the sunrise and sunset and PORAC is fighting for all law enforcement officers in California on a daily basis.

This month, the Budget Committee will be submitting a recommended budget to the full PORAC Board for 2022. The budget captures the following: revenue expectations from membership, Conference/seminars, PORAC Law Enforcement News and investment income. The good news is that revenue is up. Secondly, the budget covers our projected expenses for 2022. With the amount of work PORAC is doing, our expenses are also going up. The Budget Committee met in June and worked tirelessly to come up with a reasonable budget that will allow PORAC to continue to protect our members from whatever comes in 2022. During the annual Conference, I will present the budget to the members, and hopefully I won’t bore you to death.

Over the past couple of months, I have been writing about association directors’ fiduciary responsibility and spending members’ money on Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency. On June 4, the Bitcoin 2021 Conference took place in Miami. It was a two-day event with dozens of “Bitcoin rich” people and celebrities talking about how great Bitcoin is and what great things it will do in the future for the common man and poor countries. Now, I will admit that I did not watch every speaker because I didn’t want to go crazy. But it reminded me of the Amway tapes from the 1980s (“I am rich from Amway, and if you do what I did, you too can be rich”). If you think about it, Elon Musk took millions of dollars and bought Bitcoin. Thus, if he can get 100,000 people to buy Bitcoin then he makes money. As if the conference wasn’t enough, there was also an online conference where attendees paid $249 to listen to several billionaires talk about how great Bitcoin is going to be for the world. 

As of July 20, Bitcoin is at $29,789.90, which is down more than 50% from its high in April of over $64,000. Just crazy.

Finally, I would like all law enforcement officers to protect each other. Please ensure that you are not taking unnecessary risks that could lead to internal or external complaints. If your partner needs to be sat down and talked to, then get a hold of your association leadership and pull them aside and talk with them. I truly don’t believe California law enforcement officers are intentionally making mistakes, but we are human and can get sidetracked from our goals as law enforcement officers. We joined this profession because something inside of us wanted to help the communities we serve.

 

Law Enforcement Code of Ethics

As a law enforcement officer, my fundamental duty is to serve; to safeguard lives and property; to protect the innocent against deception, the weak against oppression or intimidation, and the peaceful against violence or disorder; and to respect the constitutional rights of all to liberty, equality and justice.

I will keep my private life unsullied as an example to all; maintain courageous calm in the face of danger, scorn or ridicule; develop self-restraint; and be constantly mindful of the welfare of others. Honest in thought and deed in both my personal and official life, I will be exemplary in obeying the laws of the land and the regulations of my department. Whatever I see or hear of a confidential nature or that is confided to me in my official capacity will be kept ever secret unless revelation is necessary in the performance of my duty.

I will never act officiously or permit personal feelings, prejudices, animosities or friendships to influence my decisions. With no compromise for crime and with relentless prosecution of criminals, I will enforce the law courteously and appropriately without fear or favor, malice or ill will, never employing unnecessary force or violence and never accepting gratuities.

I recognize the badge of my office as a symbol of public faith, and I accept it as a public trust to be held so long as I am true to the ethics of the police service. I will constantly strive to achieve these objectives and ideals, dedicating myself before God to my chosen profession … law enforcement.

President’s Message

BRIAN R. MARVEL

PORAC President

 

Legislative Priorities Updates

For this month’s message, I want to provide you with an update on the work PORAC is doing on the legislative front, reinforce the value of PORAC’s trusts that all members should be taking advantage of and share with you some of the work we are doing to proactively promote the PORAC brand in California and also nationally.

 

Senate Bill 2

As you know, PORAC’s lobbying team has been working very closely with legislators and other law enforcement advocates to secure amendments to Senator Bradford’s SB 2, which would establish a new licensure program. We know the vast majority of peace officers are good public servants doing incredible work every day in their communities. In today’s 24-hour news cycle, where any citizen with a cellphone can capture those moments when officers are interacting with members of our communities, even isolated incidents of perceived officer misconduct can set us back. As such, the media’s portrayal of law enforcement, without context or authoritative analysis, makes our jobs even more difficult when it comes to legislation.

PORAC agrees that for specific and egregious incidences of proven and sustained misconduct, there should be a process in California for reviewing an officer’s actions for potential decertification of their license to practice law enforcement. But SB 2 is not it! At least not in its current form.

SB 2 was recently amended before being approved on the Senate floor, moving it to the Assembly. Unfortunately, none of those amendments had anything to do with the licensing process, which is still biased, flawed and poorly written in a way that would infringe on officers’ rights to due process. For these reasons, PORAC remains opposed to SB 2.

We know that major policy shifts can be alarming, but changes like this are coming down the pike regardless, and it is always better to be a part of the solution than to sit on the sidelines and get steamrolled! As the bill heads to the Assembly Public Safety Committee, PORAC is committed to working with the author and his fellow legislators to make the changes we know would establish a fair and unbiased licensing process, with due process, that law enforcement can support.

 

Assembly Bill 89

This year, PORAC was proud to co-sponsor SB 387 to increase opportunities for prospective officers to further their educations with additional coursework that would help to better prepare today’s officers for the challenges of modern-day policing. You may know that competing legislation was also introduced, AB 89, that would have required officers to have a four-year degree and be 25 years of age before they could even begin their training to become a peace officer. That was a nonstarter for PORAC. We did not want to shrink the candidate pool; finding qualified individuals is already difficult. Additionally, the coursework to prepare young men and women to become officers must be related to our profession.

After many back-and-forth negotiations, we are pleased to report that we are close to reaching a compromise. As a result of those negotiations, SB 387 has been merged into AB 89. The 25-year minimum age requirement has been removed. The new requirement is that recruits must be 21 years of age and either have a four-year degree or have completed a set of enhanced POST courses as was defined by SB 387, with special consideration given for prior military service or law enforcement experience. We are working to further amend the bill. While we still have more work to do before we can fully support the legislation, we are satisfied with the direction it is heading in.

 

PORAC Trusts: LDF, RMT and IBT

I think most members are aware of the value of the Legal Defense Fund (LDF) trust. In this highly litigious culture of ours, and with the increasing challenges facing our profession today, having access to the best possible attorneys, experts and investigators can make or break a case and is an absolute necessity. LDF provides access to the top legal resources and covers all the costs associated with your legal matter. Learn more at PORACLDF.org.

Investing in your health in retirement is another absolute necessity! PORAC’s Retiree Medical Trust (RMT) is a huge benefit for our retired associate members, but it is also a benefit that all members can and should utilize. Have you given any thought to how you will cover medical expenses after you retire and do not receive insurance through an employing agency, like a city or county? If you have not, you should start. The RMT is a financial tool that allows current members to save money tax-free today, accrue interest tax-free and cover medical expenses in retirement tax-free as well. Learn more at PORACRMT.org.

While you’re looking into how you can cover medical expenses in retirement through the RMT, it is also worth exploring the variety of insurance plans available through PORAC’s Insurance and Benefits Trust (IBT). For more than 45 years, PORAC has been providing members with comprehensive insurance coverage and benefits at a reasonable and affordable price while helping members to understand how these products can best protect you and your loved ones. If you are not eligible for health insurance, investigate accessing PEMCHA with your locality. Learn more at IBTofPORAC.org.

 

PORAC Branding Campaign

Getting PORAC’s name out there will increase recognition, credibility and the impact PORAC can have on the state and national levels as we advocate for new policies and to protect our members’ rights and benefits.

I recently wrote about the importance of our communications efforts, and our branding campaign is a natural extension of those efforts. As part of the campaign, we are building out our communications team to focus more on the use of social and digital tools for promoting and advocating for the policies and programs that we know will set our members up for success.

In addition, PORAC is partnering with our three trusts and kicking our social and digital media game up a notch. We will use this educational campaign to distinguish PORAC from our competitors, clarifying what we have to offer and why we are the better choice. This will include our current partnership with Kyle Weatherman and the addition of a race in August. I am looking forward to sharing more details in the coming months.

Happy Independence Day!

Vice President’s Message

Damon Kurtz

PORAC Vice President

This year has been one of the busiest in PORAC’s history when it comes to bills in the California Legislature. We began the year with over 40 bills with an “active oppose” designation, meaning we actively engage on the bill to seek amendments or have the bill terminate before becoming law. With the legislative session at the halfway mark, we have successfully cut more than half of those bills from our active oppose list. This is a testament to the hard work put in by our advocates, Randy Perry and Aaron Read, along with a strong coalition of law enforcement organizations. Much of our advocacy effort relies on relationships and our ability to communicate with our elected officials regarding pending legislation. Every year, hundreds of bills are introduced that may have good intentions but would have negative consequences because they were not properly vetted. Of course, there are also many bills that are designed to have those intended consequences.

One of those bills that remain a primary focus for PORAC is SB 2, which makes changes to the Bane Act and creates a licensure program for law enforcement.   Unfortunately, SB 2 is less about a legitimate licensure program and more about a punitive attack on law enforcement for real or perceived wrongdoings. President Marvel and I continue to meet with our elected representatives and advocate for a fair and objective licensure program for law enforcement. It is our goal to see the necessary amendments to SB 2 and provide a licensure program that California deserves.  

So much of the current “cancel culture” we see in our society today unfortunately also permeates our government. There is a not-so-subtle agenda to abolish law enforcement, and we are already seeing the negative effects in crime rates across the country. The answer is not defunding or abolishing law enforcement; rather, there needs to be a true investment in law enforcement. For too long, law enforcement has been a political issue when it comes to budgetary concerns. Funding is often leveraged for other projects or programs in local budgets. The mantra of “Do more with less” has taken its toll on the profession, and our relationships with the community have suffered. I hear our leaders speak of community-based policing but rarely see a true commitment to funding this type of program. Community-based policing takes people, not programs or special units. This doesn’t mean funding only for law enforcement officers. There needs to be a commitment to all services surrounding public safety, from the community services officer and the mental health professionals to the law enforcement and fire services. The burden cannot be put on the law enforcement profession alone; it will take a collaboration of services if we truly want a community-based approach to public safety. Maybe that’s what it should be, community-based public safety, because law enforcement cannot handle the burdens of society on our own.

Unfortunately, there seems to be a popular belief that law enforcement reform must come through punitive legislation rather than looking for solutions on how to provide better public safety services. This is why I harp on being engaged with our elected leaders at the local, state and federal levels. We must be a voice of reason to those who legislate, and not let the actions of a few be the only representations of law enforcement. Law enforcement is a noble profession full of honorable and courageous people, and these are the voices our leaders need to hear. Ultimately, I am an optimist and believe we will be successful in bringing a reasonable voice to the table for a healthy change in how we provide law enforcement to our communities.

As always, stay safe and healthy out there!

Treasurer’s Message

Shawn Welch

PORAC Treasurer

Happy Independence Day. July 4, 1776, commemorated the Declaration of Independence of the United States. The Continental Congress declared that the 13 American colonies were no longer subject (and subordinate) to the monarch of Britain, and were now united, free and independent states: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

That passage has allowed our country, the United States of America, to grow into the greatest country humanity has ever known. It has been a rough go and we have made mistakes along the way, but in the end, I believe we are better off today because of the people who believed in the ideas expressed in the Declaration of Independence. We are all individuals who can control our own path in life. It might be a little more difficult for some than others, but we as Americans can choose what we want in life and work hard to achieve our goals.

So, this Fourth of July, when you are sitting around with family and friends, remember that it was not without bloodshed and heartache that we gained our freedom. God bless America.

 

Update on Bitcoin

After my June article, PORAC received a tweet regarding a CNN article about El Salvador adopting Bitcoin as legal tender. Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele proposed that Bitcoin could be used as legal tender in the country alongside the U.S. dollar. However, giving a currency legal tender status typically means that it can be used by borrowers to repay debts. It does not mean a person or business must accept the currency as payment.1

Obviously, the person who sent the tweet was not happy about my article and was trying to justify the action of using association funds to invest members’ money in an extremely risky investment.

On June 16, Reuters published an article headlined “World Bank rejects El Salvador request for help on bitcoin implementation.”2  The World Bank spokesperson stated, “We are committed to helping
El Salvador in numerous ways including for currency transparency and regulatory processes.” The problem with Bitcoin, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), is that it causes several macroeconomic, financial and legal issues that require a careful analysis.

All this being said, the point of last month’s article was to inform PORAC members that they need to ensure that association board members are not investing the association’s money inappropriately. The volatility of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies makes it too big of a risk as an investment. In the last month, values have been as high as 40,000+ and as low as 29,000+. So, educate yourself and find out if your association leadership is being fiscally responsible with the members’ funds.

President’s Message

Brian R. Marvel

PORAC President

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

POREF Receives Accreditation by National Charity Assessor Organizations

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Message From Congressman Richard Neal

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

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

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

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

PORAC’s Election Manual Approved

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

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

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

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

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

Vice President’s Message

Damon Kurtz

PORAC Vice President

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

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

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

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