President’s Message

Mike Durant
PORAC President

As I sat down to write this, my final article for PORAC Law Enforcement News, I thought of the many people I had met over the years and how fortunate I am that many of them had become close friends. Thanks to all of you for the profession you have chosen and the tremendous valor you show on a daily basis.

As the horrific tragedy in Las Vegas was unfolding several weeks ago, I received a text from one of my closest friends, Fred Rowbotham. He and his wife were attending the Route 91 Festival when the shooting started. As the texts continued and the picture got much brighter as to the severity of the shooting, I was concerned for my friend, his wife and all of his friends who were attending. As it became late in the evening and then early in the morning, we all learned that there were multiple fatalities from what appeared to be a single lunatic with a lot of guns.

The following morning, I began fielding many media questions regarding why there were so many law enforcement personnel at the festival in Las Vegas. I was asked that question during one of the first interviews, and I had a very simple answer: There are law enforcement members around us all of the time. Whether we are at a sporting event, church gathering or even a country music festival in Las Vegas, officers are everywhere because they are part of their communities. The media couldn’t understand why so many “off duty” law enforcement members rushed into the line of fire. That too was a simple answer: It’s what first responders are trained to do. We don’t wait for the scene to be secured or the shooting to have stopped. All of us are trained to make split-second decisions every single day. Thank goodness so many first responders were present. There is no doubt the death toll would have been much greater had it not been for the quick response of the brave men and women of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD), as well as off-duty members of other law enforcement and public safety agencies, and the military — all of whom ran toward the scene. Off-duty LVMPD Officer and military veteran Charleston Hartfield was one of them, and he gave his life that day to save others.

By the end of the first day, we learned that many members of the law enforcement community and/or members of their family had been victims of this tragedy. From agencies all over California, we were hearing of heroism, sacrifice, severe injuries or even death. This was, by far, one of the worst tragedies of our time. We will continue to keep all of these members and their families in our thoughts and prayers.

Closing Out a Career

After 13 years as an elected officer of PORAC, the past four of them as PORAC President, and 32 years of service with the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Department, I am retiring. From a boot deputy sheriff working graveyards in Santa Barbara, to transportation officer, field training officer and K-9 handler (Fritz was my best partner ever), to my last positions as senior deputy and detective, law enforcement has been an honorable and rewarding career. I enjoyed every minute of it, and I respect and salute all of you who have chosen this noble profession.

As association leaders, we all know that none of us could face the challenges if we did not have the support of our families. I am truly grateful to my family, especially my wife, Roxanne, for her unwavering support through the many challenges we faced over the years in PORAC. I want to thank my children — Jennifer, 19, Jacqueline, 15, and Stephen, 13 — for their continued patience with me, as I missed most of their firsts. From volleyball to Little League softball to football games, thankfully they all had a great mother in Roxanne, who continually filled in during my absence. I look forward to being at all of their future events.

It has been my pleasure to work with the entire PORAC staff, led by Kim Busman; the Insurance and Benefits Trust; the Legal Defense Fund Trust; and the Retiree Medical Trust. All of the trusts exist to bring you the best benefits possible. Thanks in particular to Ed Fishman for his many years of guidance and friendship.

Thank you to Santa Barbara Sheriff Bill Brown for having the foresight to allow me the release time to serve as your elected PORAC President, and thanks to the Santa Barbara Deputy Sheriff’s Association for their years of continued support of me as well as PORAC.

I was blessed to be surrounded by the brightest minds and a vast amount of knowledge whenever we were called upon to put out messages to the community or the Legislature. It is all of you who make PORAC the leading law enforcement organization in California and the United States. Thank you for everything.

It has truly been an honor to work for all of you, and I wish you the very best.

President’s Message

Mike Durant
PORAC President

Last month, your PORAC Executive Committee traveled to our nation’s capital to meet with our California Congressional delegation and many other policymakers. Joining us this year was our newest PORAC Executive Committee member, Don Morrissey from Santa Clara DSA. Don replaced James Gonzales from San Jose POA, who stepped away from PORAC to take on a new assignment at San Jose Police Department.

We started our fly-in with a briefing from our Washington, D.C., advocates at Steptoe & Johnson. Darryl Nirenberg, Eva Rigamonti and Cameron O’Brien gave us a complete rundown on what is shaping the new Congress in Washington, plus a better picture of what is and is not happening with the new administration. Steptoe & Johnson once again did a great job of prioritizing our meetings with our representatives from around California, as well as setting up several law-enforcement-related committee meetings and a meeting with White House counsel.

The following morning we began our meetings, which lasted the better part of the day. The same was true for the following day. In total, PORAC representatives attended more than 30 meetings in two days, covering a long list of priorities that PORAC and Steptoe had identified as most important, not only to California law enforcement but to law enforcement throughout the country.

One of the meetings all of the PORAC representatives attended was with our good friend Eric Swalwell. Since first being elected to Congress many years ago, Congressman Swalwell has been a great advocate for law enforcement, namely PORAC. As a past prosecutor and with his father and brother wearing a badge, it is no wonder why he completely understands our issues. Each time we are back in D.C., he will always find the time to meet with representatives of PORAC to hear our concerns or to ask us to assist him in gathering support for legislation that is pertinent to public safety in our country. As the meeting was concluding with Congressman Swalwell, he presented me with a Congressional Record (similar to a resolution) commending me and PORAC for our many years of service in representing California law enforcement. I was completely taken by surprise and overwhelmed at his recognition of my service to Santa Barbara County and PORAC. I would like to thank Eva Rigamonti and PORAC Vice President Brent Meyer for assisting Congressman Swalwell in gathering the information that was included in the Congressional Record.  Although none of us got into association leadership for self-gratification, receiving this level of recognition by a leader in Congress was very heartfelt and will be cherished for many years.

For a number of years, PORAC has worked collectively with many state organizations in Sacramento for the betterment of law enforcement. Both Past President Ron Cottingham and I have made mention of the relationship between PORAC and the California State Sheriffs’ Association. Their advocates, Nick Warner and most recently Cory Salzillo, have worked together with PORAC and our advocates, Aaron Read and Randy Perry, to make sure law enforcement in California has a united voice on most issues.

The current president of CSSA is Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown. He recently penned an article on SB 54 (Law Enforcement: Sharing Data) for the most recent issue of the CSSA magazine. I want to include an excerpt from that article to show our membership the collaboration between our two organizations. The complete article can be viewed at www.calsheriffs.org/resource-center/magazine/past-issues. A special thanks to my Sheriff Bill Brown for providing PORAC with this information:

“The saga of SB 54 began eight months ago, but the bill that was sent to the Governor for his signature bears little resemblance to its original version. In its first iterations this bill would have precluded most communication and interaction between local law enforcement officers and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. ICE agents would have been excluded from our jails, and as a result most undocumented criminals would have been released from jail and recycled into our communities to reoffend. Thanks to the efforts of our Association, our strong alliance with the California Police Chiefs Association, the California Peace Officers Association, and the Peace Officers Research Association of California, and the intervention of Governor Brown, SB 54 was considerably pared down; to the point its passage became a Pyrrhic victory for the author and its advocates.

“Illegal immigration is a very difficult, long-standing and emotive issue. It won’t be solved by keeping local cops from talking to federal agents who are responsible for homeland security investigations. What is needed is comprehensive immigration reform at the federal level, a tall order especially when our political parties have never been more polarized. Although passage of SB 54 will be lauded by many, even in its weakened form it remains a hazardous law that will come back to haunt those who have passed it.”

PORAC and CSSA remain opposed to SB 54 because collectively we believe it to be bad public policy.

President’s Message

Mike Durant
PORAC President

August Board Meeting

Your PORAC Board of Directors held its quarterly meeting on Friday, August 4, in Reno, Nevada, at the Atlantis Casino Resort Spa. Your Board of Directors, working in conjunction with our trusts and PORAC staff, were able to secure a tremendous deal with the Atlantis to bring all of our various meetings to one central location.

All the meetings were well attended by your Board and trustees, as well as many other association leaders from around Northern California and Nevada. We had a very full agenda, with many issues to discuss. Interviews were conducted with candidates running for California Governor and Attorney General. Earlier this year, your Board of Directors had requested this meeting specifically in August to interview all potential and known candidates for both positions. After many weeks of trying to schedule all of the candidates, it was clear that this one meeting was not going to complete the interview process. For various reasons, a few of the candidates for each position were not able to come to Reno on our selected meeting date to present in front of the Board. Last month, your Executive Committee made a decision to complete those remaining candidates’ interviews early next year. Although it may be getting late at that point for PORAC to endorse candidates for those two constitutional offices, your Board of Directors would like to see the full spectrum of candidates prior to making any decisions.

As many of you may have recently heard, the Executive Committee unanimously brought forth a set of bylaw proposals to remove the Nevada Chapter from PORAC. These proposals were also brought before the Board of Directors at our August meeting. It, too, approved and supported the proposed bylaws. Each of these bylaws will be brought before the Conference of Members in November in San Diego.

The day prior to our August Board meeting, the Executive Committee met with several associations from around Nevada to fully explain the proposed bylaws and ensure that all associations in Nevada will have full access to the PORAC Legal Defense Fund and any other trust benefits within PORAC, no matter what the decision is on the Conference floor.

Ron Dreher, a longtime advocate for Reno PPA, the Nevada Chapter and PORAN, asked many good questions of the Executive Committee at the meeting. After attesting to him and all of those in attendance about what is specifically stated in the proposed bylaws, namely that PORAC is going to collect dues from Nevada associations and remit 100% of those dues back to PORAN and the Nevada Chapter for a period of one year, Dreher said it will be best for both organizations to part ways. We look forward to continuing to work with our neighbors in Nevada to assist them, should these bylaws pass at Conference.

End of Session at Our State Capitol

One of the main topics of discussion at August’s Board meeting was the return of the Legislature for the last four weeks of the 2017 legislative session. Legislators have until Thursday, August 31, to complete business for the year. This time of year is notorious for last-minute shenanigans. With some legislative changes signed into law last year, we hope those shenanigans will be tremendously reduced. Our legislative advocacy team at Aaron Read & Associates has been working overtime to monitor the hundreds of legislative amendments happening on a daily basis. There will undoubtedly be battles on our horizon, both fighting for our priority bills and fighting off ill-conceived legislative proposals. We will keep you updated on everything happening at the State Capitol and want you to know we are engaged on your behalf every day. PORAC continues to advocate for each of you, protecting your rights as a peace officer and making sure that the safety of our communities remains policymakers’ top priority.

PORAC, working together with our partners at Marketplace Communications, continues to get out positive messages to our membership through our various social media platforms. Whether on PORAC TV, PORAC YouTube, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, PORAC is leading the way in providing information and advocating for public safety in California. Know that PORAC will continue to bring you the most up-to-date info on whatever platform is best for our members.

President’s Message

Mike Durant
PORAC President

Summer Updates

Last month, your PORAC Executive Committee met in Sacramento. During the meeting, we were briefed by our advocates Aaron Read and Randy Perry, as well as PORAC Legal Defense Administrator Ed Fishman on current legislation and also our plan moving forward regarding the implementation of the RIPA regulations. Aaron, Randy and Ed have been working in the background with the California Department of Justice (DOJ) to craft language that best protects our members and their identities when the information gathered from your local agency is transmitted to the DOJ. Although there is nothing set legislatively, know that PORAC and all of our advocates are working diligently with California State Sheriffs’, Cal Chiefs and the CHP to protect all of law enforcement in California. No other organization has done anything regarding RIPA and AB 953 implementation to assist these four groups in protecting California law enforcement. (Yeah, you didn’t miss a thing!)

As the summer begins to peak, so do all of the shenanigans that happen in the California Legislature. Having attended several committee meetings and hearings at the Capitol this past month, I am no longer surprised when bills get gutted and amended with language that had nothing to do with the original version or, even worse, when the language is innocuous or seemly disguised to not draw any attention. Thankfully, PORAC has the best of the best in Aaron Read and Randy Perry (and the entire team at Aaron Read & Associates) to protect all of us during these trying times. I would like to once again thank both of them and Ed Fishman for their tireless work in watching our backs on all of these legislative issues.

In early July, shortly after our Executive Committee meeting, PORAC participated in another RIPA meeting, this one in San Diego. Prior to the meeting, PORAC, with clear direction from Aaron, Randy and Ed, made a decision to continue participating in all of the RIPA hearings — but now we are clearly outnumbered on the board and have next to no chance of getting our opinions considered. So we have decided, along with our other three partners, to continue working directly with the DOJ and our legislators to create legislative language that will address the sections in AB 953 that created the RIPA Board.

PORAC was notified in early July that Executive Committee member James Gonzales (San Jose POA) would be stepping down from his PORAC duties as Executive Committee Representative for Region I. I would like to commend James for all of the work he has done to assist his fellow San Jose POA members as well as all of PORAC. We will be holding a special election to replace James on the Executive Committee. His term expires at Conference in November 2018.

PORAC Director Mike McGrew Retires

Lastly, I would like to congratulate a very good friend on his retirement. Mike McGrew, Santa Barbara POA and PORAC Tri-Counties Director, retired last month after a long and distinguished career with the Santa Barbara Police Department. PORAC representatives Anthony Sanders, Virginia Tinoco, Roger Garcia, Javier Antunez and I all had the opportunity to attend Mike’s retirement celebration, along with about 300 other community leaders from around Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.

Although PORAC or I, in particular, may not always mention it, PORAC is very proud of  our retirees and we congratulate them all on a successful career in law enforcement. Mike McGrew is just a little different. Mike and I spent our careers together in both law enforcement and our local association leadership. Throughout his career, Mike has faced many obstacles, both personally and professionally. Several years ago, Mike’s son lost a long battle with cancer. As his career was winding down a few years ago, Mike himself was diagnosed with cancer. Through it all, Mike put his faith in God and persevered. To this day, he is a rock for his members, both at Santa Barbara POA and the Santa Barbara Police Foundation. I recently called Mike and received his voicemail message. It no longer said, “You have reached Sergeant Mike McGrew.” It now says, “You have reached Pastor Mike McGrew.” What an inspiration to all of us. Thank you, Mike, for your dedication to all of PORAC and the law enforcement community. 

President’s Message

Mike Durant
PORAC President

PORAC Executive Committee Meeting

In early June, your Executive Committee met in Sacramento and discussed the business of PORAC. Each month when the Board of Directors is not meeting, the Executive Committee convenes to discuss the various challenges facing our members. Whether it is potentially disastrous legislation from a lawmaker who is hell-bent on releasing more convicted felons, setting dates and agendas for our upcoming federal legislative meetings, or the best possible news PORAC could receive from a member who was granted coverage on an appeal that brought them a new baby boy, many different issues are brought forward to consider and take action upon for the benefit of our members.

Several months ago, the Executive Committee decided to begin a series of strategic planning meetings. Each Sunday prior to our Monday meetings, we meet to discuss the best possible avenues to address internal issues within PORAC. One of the discussions we recently had was how best to reach our members, both new and seasoned. All of us had concerns about the recent low attendances at our chapter meetings. We agreed that we need to develop and implement better methods and techniques to reach our members.

Not too often do I take the opportunity to thank our Board of Directors and Executive Committee, along with our SPAC and RAM representatives, for their dedication to our members. In addition to attending a quarterly Board meeting or a monthly Executive Committee meeting, all of them are regularly available to answer your questions. That is what I believe is the best trait PORAC offers our members. We have the ability to network with more than 69,000 colleagues. No matter the question, I can assure you that one of our leaders or a member within one of our more than 930 associations has faced whatever you may be facing. Most of our member associations gather monthly at a relatively close location to attend their local PORAC chapter meetings. If you haven’t attended a chapter meeting for quite some time, I would urge each association leader to designate at least one member to attend these meetings. It is the very best way to assist your association with any current issues you may be facing, but even more importantly, you may be able to assist another member or association on something you know more about than anyone.

PORAC.org and Social Media Update

Several months ago, Vice President Brent Meyer and I met with representatives from 911MEDIA to discuss a refresh of both our website and our app. We received several suggestions, and brought them to Marketplace Communications for further discussion and implementation. After a few modifications from 911MEDIA, Marketplace Communications and our own Chris Steele, PORAC.org has now gone live with updates that will allow our members to better locate specific information, resulting in an even cleaner and more user-friendly website with many other enhancements for our social media information and outreach. I would like to commend Vice President Meyer for bringing this challenge through to fruition, and Chris Steele for his design and artistic vision on what will best assist our members.

Our Executive Committee also approved moving forward to build a new PORAC app. Once completed, it will be available on both the Apple and Google platforms. 911MEDIA has provided great insight on what will be best for our members. The app will interact with our new website and improve our ability to communicate with our members, as well as announcing many new PORAC offerings. Vice President Meyer and Chris Steele, along with Michele Cervone and Stephen Rodriguez from Marketplace Communications, have been working with 911MEDIA to build a state-of-the-art app for all of our members. We commend Mark Deitch and all of his staff at 911MEDIA for their vision and assistance in bringing PORAC to the leading edge of communicating with our members and the public.

PORAC Scholarships

Each year our Scholarship Committee reviews several hundred applications, in conjunction with the May Board of Directors meeting in Sacramento. In July and August, during our local chapter meetings, PORAC presents more than 25 college scholarships to the selected children and dependents of our members. This is always one of the best local chapter meetings for PORAC leadership to attend. We have the ability to interact with some of our members and their families, many of whom we have never had a chance to meet.

PORAC is very proud of all of our family members. As parents, each of us wants the very best for the future of our children. PORAC is engaged in assisting our children for not only their future, but the future of all. Thanks to each young person who participated in our PORAC Scholarship Program, and congratulations to all of our scholarship recipients.

President’s Message

Mike Durant
PORAC President

Memorial Ceremonies

Last month was the annual California Peace Officers’ Memorial Ceremony in Sacramento as well as National Police Week in Washington, D.C. Both ceremonies were solemn events that honored our fallen heroes from 2016, one Oakland officer from 2015 and four officers from years past who had formerly been unrecognized.

One of the deputies memorialized was Tulare County Deputy Scott Ballantyne, EOW: February 10, 2016. PORAC had the privilege of being the facilitator for Deputy Ballantyne’s family. PORAC was also honored to provide lunch for each person attending the Memorial Ceremony.

A few short days after the ceremonies in Sacramento, Vice President Brent Meyer and I traveled to Washington, D.C., for Police Week and the various ceremonies in our nation’s capital. The candlelight vigil attracted more than 40,000 law enforcement professionals from around the country and beyond. Two days later, we participated in the memorial service on the Capitol grounds. Thank you to National Chapter Liaison Tami McMillan for prominently recognizing PORAC as a partner of Concerns of Police Survivors. Thanks also to Northern Chapter President Susan Moody and Central California Chapter President Jim Howell for assisting PORAC during the week. After leaving the ceremony, I reminded myself of just how important it is for us to be there to recognize these heroes from around the country. I urge all of you to attend National Police Week in D.C. at least once in your career; it has been one of the most rewarding experiences of mine.

Board Meeting and Legislative Day

In early May, your Board met in Sacramento in conjunction with our state Memorial Ceremony. Four times a year the PORAC Board meets to discuss issues facing our members; whether political, policies, or furthering our advocacy in both Sacramento and Washington, D.C., we should be very proud of the dedication of our Board and the work each of these members is doing on behalf of all peace officers in California and Nevada. Once again, PORAC is the leader throughout the state in advocating for officers’ rights and benefits.

On Legislative Day, our Board of Directors, chapter presidents and association leaders from throughout the state converge in Sacramento to walk the halls of the Capitol discussing legislation that could have a tremendous impact on all of law enforcement. To get things started this year, Aaron Read, Randy Perry and Michele Cervone provided PORAC with detailed talking points, then after a short briefing by Randy and Aaron, each of us met with our respective legislators and discussed our priorities. 

After our meetings at the Capitol, our Board, chapter representatives and association leaders met with several of these legislators across the street at the Sutter Club for our legislative reception. Our event was attended by well over 75 state representatives, who had a chance to mingle with the leadership of PORAC in a much more relaxed and informal atmosphere. It was clearly one of our most successful advocacy events in recent years.

California State Sheriffs’ Association Conference

Over the years, PORAC has been working more closely with both Cal Chiefs and the California State Sheriffs’ Association (CSSA) in an effort to bring a more united front on issues such as RIPA and other legislation detrimental to public safety. 

In late April, PORAC attended the CSSA Conference, hosted by the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office (SBSO). At the various events, I had the opportunity to talk with Cal Chiefs’ former President Ken Corney (Ventura P.D.) and Kings County Sheriff David Robinson. Chief Corney has very detailed knowledge of RIPA, and Sheriff Robinson is a RIPA Board member. We discussed the various regulations we believed would be included in the testing that went out to 30 agencies throughout California. These were all very informative meetings and sheriffs attending from around the state learned about the relationship that PORAC has with our management representatives on these common issues.

During the various evening social events, I was able to meet with SBSO Sheriff Bill Brown, Undersheriff Bernard Melekian and Retired SBSO Sheriff Jim Thomas. During the conference, Sheriff Brown was sworn in as the newest CSSA President. I also had the opportunity to catch up with many of my department friends and co-workers. The event was a great success and made me very proud to be a part of the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office.  

 

President’s Message

Mike Durant
PORAC President

Training Symposium in San Diego

Your PORAC Executive Committee met last month in San Diego at the Bahia Resort Hotel in conjunction with our PORAC Training and Labor Symposium. During the meeting, the members present discussed many aspects of PORAC, including our lobbying trip to Washington, D.C., two weeks prior.

There were over 240 members at the Symposium, including representatives of your PORAC Executive Committee and many others who registered at the door. PORAC Training and Labor Consultant Claude Alber did a great job of putting together the best speakers available, covering the most up-to-date information for all of you. As many of you noticed during Symposium, PORAC is working toward getting all of our training, including the Symposium, POST-certified for CPT points. Special thanks to Vice President Brent Meyer and Claude Alber for making this happen. Also, thank you to all of the instructors for assisting PORAC in making this year’s Symposium our largest and one of the best ever!

PORAC advocate Randy Perry started off the training by providing an in-depth analysis of the current legislation facing law enforcement. Following Randy was a presentation by LDF Chairman Fred Rowbotham and LDF Administrator Ed Fishman, along with LDF Trustees Barry Donelan and DJ Wozniak. They gave a great update on the status of the PORAC Legal Defense Fund, as well as discussing the best way possible for your association to curtail costs associated with LDF usage.

On the afternoon of the first day, Amy Brown (Public Retirement Journal) brought us her perspective on pensions and takeaways from public employees. One of the best things about Amy and her presentations is how she engages our members in discussions about all of the subjects. This year was no different.

The second day of training started with Rick Pinckard and Brad Fields discussing cellphone privacy and First Amendment issues surrounding public safety. Rick and Brad are very knowledgeable on both of these subjects, as well as being expert attorneys for our LDF. They provided those in attendance with an array of insights on their specific topics.

On the afternoon of the second day of training, Rick Braziel, retired Sacramento Police Chief and a representative of the Police Foundation, discussed the San Bernardino terrorist attack. Rick gave a detailed account of the facts surrounding the horrific event that claimed 14 lives. The members present listened intently to both presentations, and it was clear that all of them were completely engaged in the aftermath of this tragedy.

California Peace Officers’ Memorial Ceremony

In May, memorial ceremonies are held throughout the United States to honor the brave peace officers who have laid down their lives in sacrifice for the safety of the citizens they are sworn to protect. Many of your elected representatives of PORAC will be in attendance for the California ceremony, as well as National Police Week in Washington, D.C. The general public may not give these ceremonies the same consideration that all of us do. They may not be fully aware of the risks that a peace officer faces on the job each and every day. The first recorded killing of a peace officer was in 1792. Since then, there have been more than 19,950 peace officers killed in the line of duty. Their names are engraved on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C. We know these are not just names. They represent mothers, fathers, sons, daughters and many other relatives, and include our friends, partners and co-workers. These were the peace officers we could count on — not only those of us in the law enforcement family, but all of the citizens of the United States — and they gave their lives for all of us. Nobody had to ask them to lay down their lives for the sake of others. They just did; it comes with the responsibility, duty and honor of wearing the badge. As long as this profession asks you to wear a bulletproof vest, strap on a gun and deliberately put yourself in harm’s way to protect others, there will be peace officers killed in the line of duty. This is the price we may be asked to pay so that the citizens of California and throughout this great country will have a safer place to live, work, raise their families and prosper.

May is also the month when we remember and honor those who have given their lives to preserve the freedom and safety of our nation. Memorial Day is when we honor the veterans of military service who laid down their lives in times of war for their country and our freedom. Remember, freedom is not free; it comes with a heavy price of personal sacrifice. Please keep all members of our United States military, our fallen peace officers and their families in your thoughts and prayers during this month and throughout the year.

President’s Message

Mike Durant
PORAC President

I understand that many of us are hearing about AB 953 and the RIPA Board on a continual basis. The regulations that are being proposed to the Department of Justice are mind-boggling. With that said, in the coming weeks or month we should have the initial regulations before all of us from Attorney General Becerra. PORAC has had several frank conversations with him about the proposed regulations. We have also met with Dr. Shirley Weber, the author of AB 953. During our meeting with Dr. Weber, she too was somewhat perplexed by how many regulations have been proposed, as well as the details of what has been proposed. When we last spoke with Attorney General Becerra, he said it is his plan to get the law enforcement representatives together with him and Dr. Weber to find common ground for what we collectively believe will be the best approach moving forward.

Thankfully, PORAC has cultivated relationships with Cal Chiefs President Ken Corney from the City of Ventura, CSSA representative and Kings County Sheriff David Robinson, and CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow. All of them have done an outstanding job of representing our profession. Chief Corney went to the extent of reaching out to another state that currently has a practice of what has been proposed by the RIPA Board. The information that Chief Corney has provided will prove invaluable once Dr. Weber and Attorney General Becerra have a chance to fully review it. It demonstrates the time necessary (up to 20 minutes) to fully complete a contact under regulations much less detailed than those proposed by the RIPA Board.

We need only to take a look at Chicago to see the problems that have been created by similar regulations. Shortly after resigning from his position as United States attorney in Chicago, Zachary Fardon submitted a five-page public letter that amounted to a road map of what he believes went wrong there. We have all seen the tragedies that have befallen Chicago due to gang problems and gun violence in recent years. The following are a few paragraphs from his letter; you can read the rest at www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-open-letter-zachary-fardon-20170313-story.html.

The contract that settled the lawsuit swung the pendulum hard in the other direction by telling cops if you (officer) go talk to those kids on the corner, you’re going to take 40 minutes to fill out a form, and you’re going to have to give them a receipt with your badge number on it….

So cops stopped making stops. And kids started shooting more — because they could, and because the rule of law, law enforcement, had been delegitimized. And that created an atmosphere of chaos….

We need to flood those neighborhoods with local and federal law enforcement officers. Not just arrest the bad guys but also to be standing on that corner where shots otherwise might get fired, to be breaking up those corner loiterers, and to be meeting and learning and knowing the kids, the people, and the truth of who are the good guys, who are the bad guys, and who isn’t yet formed and can be swayed.

Several years ago, PORAC was approached by our publishers at 911MEDIA with an idea to showcase various associations and their respective departments throughout the PORAC membership. Since then, 911MEDIA and PORAC have provided our readership with some great stories of the various victories, tragedies, wins and losses of several associations. Recently, PORAC Vice President Meyer and I met with 911MEDIA again to discuss those and any other items to consider for our readership. PORAC plans to continue showcasing many of our associations in the coming years. We look forward to your input on enhancing our publication and interactions with all of our members.

Your PORAC Executive Committee traveled to Washington, D.C., late last month to meet with our federal legislators and discuss the priorities for public safety in California. During these meetings with our congressional delegation, PORAC demonstrated and explained how certain pieces of legislation will affect law enforcement in California and throughout the country. Some of the issues we discussed were:

  • Federal funding for state and local law enforcement programs and activities
  • 9-1-1 system reform
  • Privacy legislation — Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA)
  • COPS grant programs, HIDTA and Byrne JAG grants
  • Law enforcement and schools

This month, many of us will come together in San Diego at the Bahia Resort for our annual Training Symposium. Our training staff, led by Claude Alber, has put together a great schedule of events and speakers addressing many issues we will be facing in the coming year and beyond. All of us at PORAC look forward to interacting with you during this training. Remember that many of your PORAC officers and Executive Committee members will be in attendance throughout the event. If you have any specific issues, please take the time to meet with us so we may be best situated to assist you as well as your association.

It is tax time for all of us, and our California Peace Officers’ Memorial Fund needs your assistance. We would like to remind all of our members to check the box. While you are completing your California tax returns, please take a moment to donate to the Memorial. With all of our members throughout PORAC, we can make a difference to all the families of our fallen heroes. Check the box — it’s that simple!

President’s Message

Mike Durant
PORAC President

In early February, your PORAC Board of Directors met in Sacramento to address the many issues before them, including several bills related to peace officer transparency (in response to SB 1286, which PORAC and other law enforcement groups killed last year); school safety; penalties for driving under the influence of marijuana or alcohol; as well as a possible fix to AB 953, the Racial Identity Profiling Act (RIPA). Randy Perry and Aaron Read gave our Board a complete report on the many law-enforcement-related bills that have already been introduced this session.

As reported last month, PORAC has been very involved in the RIPA process and participates on the appointed board that makes recommendations to the Attorney General, who will ultimately decide what should or should not be included in the RIPA guidelines.

Last month, PORAC participated in the RIPA Board meeting held in Fresno at the Fresno Area Hispanic Foundation. The location of the meeting was completely inappropriate. First, we were not in a state facility with magnetometers! Then, there were more than 50 protestors present inside the meeting room carrying signs, chanting and continually interrupting the process and discussions of the board. At one point, PORAC was able to put a motion forward to eliminate the unique identifier of each officer. The motion was seconded and passed on a vote of 16–0 with one abstention. As the meeting progressed and we reached the end of the agenda, the member who had abstained from the earlier vote made a motion not to request additional information from the Attorney General and to include the unique identifier in the proposed regulations. That vote was seconded and passed by a vote of 13–4 with all four law enforcement representatives voting against the motion. As that vote was being counted, the dozens of protestors in the audience broke out in a loud chant and roar of applause. As you can clearly tell by my description, the meeting had turned into a circus. The coup de grace was a request by representatives of the RIPA Board to include a person’s form of religion as one of the proposed regulations. That, too, passed along the same lines as earlier.

PORAC, our Legal Defense Fund and Randy Perry have been working tirelessly on the various components of RIPA and vetting the best possible language to consider, should we need to move forward to more clearly define the AB 953  legislation.

Two years ago, PORAC LDF provided similar assistance in crafting legislation related to body-worn cameras. We had been working with the Legislature for the previous several years to craft language that would be beneficial to law enforcement while being open and transparent with the communities we serve and protect. This year, there has been no language brought forward to implement a statewide system on the use and implementation of body-worn cameras.

It is our hope that PORAC and PORAC LDF will have similar success on the issue of the RIPA regulations. This type of teamwork between PORAC, PORAC LDF and all of our panel attorneys is why we are the most recognized law enforcement organization in California. No other organization is working to this extent to provide the best possible solutions to safeguarding the benefits of our members. Needless to say, we anticipate this to be a very busy year defending public safety.

Last year, Assembly Member Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento) proposed legislation to remove local district attorneys from reviewing any officer-involved incidents of death or great bodily injury. He had not reached out to any law enforcement groups to provide feedback on his proposed legislation. That bill was killed by PORAC and other law enforcement groups. This year, Assembly Member McCarty requested a meeting with PORAC as well as the California Association of Highway Patrolmen. In listening to Assembly Member McCarty during the meeting, it was clear that he is looking for law enforcement to be held accountable to someone other than local district attorneys. He recommended that investigating law enforcement officers’ uses of force in California should follow what other states are doing by having the Department of Justice in California review those cases. PORAC and the CAHP disagreed, explaining that this review is one of the primary responsibilities of the district attorney. We also let him know that current law allows for the DOJ to come in and take control away from the local DA if there appears to be any collusion, malfeasance or abuse by the local agency or DA.

To close, I would like to remind all of our members to check the box. It is tax time for all of us and our California Peace Officers’ Memorial Fund needs your assistance. This year while you are completing you California tax returns, please take a moment to donate to the CPOMF. With all of our members throughout PORAC, we can make a difference to the families of our fallen heroes. Check the box — it’s that simple!

President’s Message

Mike Durant
PORAC President

Late last year, PORAC was notified of a controversial painting displayed in the corridors of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. The painting was hung in the Capitol by Congressman William Lacy Clay (D-Mo.). A few days later, Congressman Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) removed the painting and returned it to Congressman Clay’s office.

PORAC and our partners at Marketplace Communications, Aaron Read & Associates, and Steptoe & Johnson immediately responded with member communications and a press release, as well as a letter to Congressman Clay. The following is a copy of that letter. PORAC will continue to fight to defend our members in all corners of this country.

An Open Letter to Congressman Lacy Clay

PORAC understands that members of the U.S. House of Representatives are asked to select artwork created by students in their districts to be displayed in the United States Capitol. The idea is to recognize the talents and achievements of young constituents, and promote artistic expression and discussion. It has not been seen as a way to make cheap political points — until now.

Unfortunately, the cheap points being made — in the U.S. Capitol, the symbol of America’s democracy — are at the expense of America’s law enforcement community. They are embodied in the painting that glorifies protesters moving down an urban street holding signs that read “Stop Killing” and “Racism Kills” while police officers are depicted as gun-toting pigs standing in the way of justice.

First, the piece denigrates the career that we have chosen. Law enforcement is an honorable profession. Our men and women are relied upon every day by hundreds of millions of law-abiding American citizens to keep them safe.

Second, and most offensive, is the fact that this artwork is being displayed in the seat of American democracy, an institution we have each dedicated our lives to defending. And, unfortunately, more and more of our colleagues pay the ultimate price for their commitment. In the past year alone, 140 law enforcement officers have died violently in the line of duty — and many of those brave men and women were specifically targeted because of the uniform they wear. Vilifying police officers in the hallowed halls of the U.S. Capitol, where we as citizens bring our families, is deeply insulting and extremely counterproductive.

The best way to address problems that persist between law enforcement and the communities we serve is through constructive dialogue and not symbolic, inflammatory and gratuitous gestures like hanging an inflammatory painting on a congressional wall.

Congressman Clay, we look forward to continuing constructive discussions in hope that you will not rely on offensive overgeneralizations as the basis for your understanding of the complex landscape of police and community relations. To this end, we invite you to come on a ride-along with one of our members the next time you are in California. Perhaps joining an officer (knowing that by simply sitting in a police cruiser you may be a target) may help you understand why this artwork has no place in the halls of the Capitol.

PORAC Partners With PubSecAlliance as a Founding Member

At our January meeting, your Executive Committee voted to partner with PubSecAlliance as one of its founding members. This will provide PORAC members with a full range of national contacts of law enforcement leaders, as well as many other benefits.