President’s Message

Mike Durant
PORAC President

Happy New Year! We hope you all had the opportunity to spend quality time with family and friends over the holidays. Now that we have entered into 2017, it is time to buckle up, as we are all in for an E ticket ride!

2017–18 California Legislative Session

By the time you read this, the first year of the 2017–18 legislative session will be underway. Both the Senate and Assembly now have a two-thirds majority of Democrats. It remains to be seen how that will impact legislation. The Assembly Moderate Caucus, composed of moderate Democrats, will continue to have a tempering influence on legislation. We are pleased that our good friend Assembly Member Jim Cooper, who retired after a full career with the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office, is a caucus co-chair. He is a strong supporter of PORAC and all law enforcement.

There will be no shortage of legislative issues. Law enforcement will continue to be the focal point on many pieces of legislation. PORAC will be sponsoring legislation to deal with transparency issues while also protecting the safety and privacy of law enforcement. There may be legislation relating to body cameras and numerous other issues. We will report next month on new legislation that is either being written or has been introduced. Proposition 64, which PORAC opposed, passed and legalizes marijuana in California. It will be the subject of legislation to implement it. PORAC is deeply concerned about protecting the public from drugged citizens and drugged drivers and will be supporting legislation implementing roadside tests.

Of course, we have a new President of the United States who has shown he is very supportive of law enforcement. Most likely he doesn’t think much of California, since there are sanctuary cities here, and immigration and the environment are issues of contention. It remains to be seen if California will lose any federal funding, either at the city, county or state level. It certainly is something we have to pay close attention to, as it could adversely affect local government’s fiscal conditions if federal funds are cut.

Racial and Identity Profiling Act

PORAC has worked collaboratively with our partners at Aaron Read & Associates as well as the PORAC Legal Defense Fund to gather pertinent information regarding the implementation of AB 953, the Racial and Identity Profiling Act of 2015 (RIPA), and how it will affect our members. Rains Lucia Stern also offered to assist PORAC in researching information on RIPA, similar to last year when Alison Berry Wilkinson assisted PORAC with combating the ill-conceived SB 1286. I would like to thank Aaron Read and Pat Moran from ARA, as well as LDF Chairman Fred Rowbotham, LDF Administrator Ed Fishman and Rocky Lucia from RLS, for detailed information on RIPA as well as their assistance in the research provided on CalPERS.

In response to the public sentiment toward policing, California passed RIPA in late 2015. This new law purports to accomplish three goals: First, it creates the RIPA Board, on which PORAC has a seat among the small minority of law enforcement personnel. Second, it provides for the mass collection and reporting of each department’s handling of racial profiling complaints. Third, it requires mass collection and reporting of data regarding law enforcement stops and detentions including, but not limited to, the reason for the stop, perceived race/ethnicity of the subject of the stop, and actions taken by the officer. Ultimately, RIPA may issue reports on the data collected, such that lawmakers, the public and law enforcement agencies can be better informed on what problems, if any, exist.

While PORAC endeavored to prevent the passing of RIPA, we and other stakeholders were assured that officers’ individual identifying information would never be released or made available to the public. Along the lines of these assurances, the statute included the following language: “… [T]he data reported shall be available to the public, except for the badge number or other unique identifying information of the peace officer involved …” However, earlier this month, the California Department of Justice issued suggested rules to be imposed on each department that require the data collected and transmitted to the state contain a unique identifier for each individual officer. This raises tremendous concerns. If such information is collected and available, ultimately, such information could be released to the public. RIPA itself provides the following: “All data and reports made pursuant to this section are public records within the meaning of subdivision (e) of Section 6252, and are open to public inspection pursuant to Sections 6253 and 6258.” Also, we can envision our California judges and courts, in response to allegations of racial profiling, ordering departments to release the data collected by individual officers.

While the ill effects of this poorly conceived effort to ease tensions between the community and the police are years down the road, from this vantage point, it appears to be a view full of perils and problems for law enforcement.

The next RIPA Board meeting will take place on January 26 at the Fresno Area Hispanic Foundation. In the meantime, PORAC intends to research these issues further. At the January Executive Committee meeting, we will develop a plan for how best to address and prevent these foreseeable problems.

CalPERS’ Modification to the
Discount Rate

In late December, the CalPERS Board will take action to reduce the discount rate, over a three-year phase-in, from 7.5% to 7%. The rate will be 7.375% next year, 7.25% the following year and 7% in the third year.

CalPERS’ rationale for this action is that their financial consultants project lower rates of return over the next 10 years. We note that the same consultants project earnings will average 7.83% over a 30-year period. CalPERS’ staff expresses concern over the current negative cash flow and lower returns in early years diminishing the compounding of earnings in later years.

We recognize these as legitimate concerns, but question whether CalPERS is operating in an overly conservative manner. The move to 7% establishes CalPERS as the most conservative pension plan in the nation among its 125 pension plan peers. Despite being the largest of them, and arguably the most capable of hiring top advisors and outperforming its peer group, CalPERS has chosen to adopt the lowest discount rate in the nation.

This conservative approach directly impacts public employees in the system, who will pay more toward their retirement benefits as a direct result of this decision. Since the Great Recession, public employees have barely scratched their way back to pre-recession levels, due to furloughs, pay cuts and years without raises. Many rely on CalPERS as their sole retirement income because they don’t receive Social Security, and the average pension is around $36,000 a year.

Nobody wants to ensure pension plans are solvent more than the retirees and employees who rely on them. But make no mistake about the fact that these same employees will be paying the price for the discount rate reduction out of their current and future paychecks.

President’s Message

Mike Durant
PORAC President

Law Enforcement Under Attack

Throughout history, but much more notably over the past few years, we have seen law enforcement become targets for radical individuals hell-bent on causing mayhem in our communities. The common denominator in all the incidents across our country is that peace officers have been targeted for merely doing our job of protecting the public. Many of the pundits who question the actions of law enforcement continue to defend the thugs who are committing the crimes in our communities. They are quick to condemn our actions, but have never been placed in situations where decisions must come in nanoseconds.

Now more than ever, all of law enforcement must come together to protect our safety and publicize the good work we do on a daily basis. During a recent meeting in Sacramento of law enforcement association stakeholders, all of those present recommended PORAC as the primary conduit for gathering information to put together a positive message on behalf of California law enforcement. PORAC will be working with Marketplace Communications on how best to deliver that message.

Pension Initiatives

Two years ago, during our Conference of Members, a bylaw passed to raise funds specifically to battle any pension-related issues facing PORAC or our member associations. With these additional funds secured, we are now better prepared to take on future fights to protect all of our vested benefits.

PORAC, along with many other state organizations, will continue to push back against those trying to unhinge our pension benefits or get any pension initiative on the ballot. With that said, all of us need to remain cognizant that although we were able to keep several pension initiatives off of the ballot two years ago, there is no doubt in our minds and the minds of our advocates that a similar initiative will be headed our way in the coming years.

State and National Legislative Advocacy

Our legislative advocacy firm at Aaron Read & Associates (ARA), led by Aaron Read and Randy Perry, once again did a great job of navigating PORAC through some of the toughest legislation in recent years in Sacramento. With the animosity against public safety continuing to build across the country, it seemed the fights came almost on a daily basis.

Legislators continue to reach out to PORAC for everything related to public safety, sometimes several times in a day, to discuss ideas, proposed legislation or amendments on current legislation. ARA monitors all relevant bills as they go through the Legislature and keeps PORAC up to date. As always, Aaron has put together an unbelievable staff, namely Michele Cervone, that has constantly put PORAC members before anything else on their radar. Aaron has always said that loyalty means everything. He and his firm are the most loyal and trusted advocates. Everyone at ARA deserves the utmost thanks and commendation for their dedication to our membership.

Several years ago, PORAC changed our advocacy firm in Washington, D.C., to Steptoe & Johnson. Since the inception of this new relationship, PORAC has repeatedly been raising our name identification with not only our congressional delegation in California and Nevada, but also many committees responsible for providing federal law enforcement funding.

This year, representatives of your PORAC Board of Directors traveled to Washington, D.C., in both April and September to advocate our positions on public safety issues. Darryl Nirenberg, along with Jason Abel, Eva Rigamonti and Cameron O’Brien, did an outstanding job of coordinating meetings with our elected legislators and select committees, and provided PORAC with the most up-to-date legislative program. Throughout the past several years, they and their firm have elevated PORAC to a much higher level of recognition. Representatives and senators, as well as committee members, are contacting us for our input on federal policies related to public safety.

Lastly, I would like to commend all of our staff for once again doing a fantastic job of putting on one of the best conferences PORAC has even seen. More than anything, our staff works for each of you to ensure that all of your needs are met throughout the course of the year. Kim Busman, our Finance and Administrative Manager, has done a great job of running the office, as well as coordinating our day-to-day activities at Conference. We also thank Labor and Training Coordinator Claude Alber, Membership Services Representative Angie Gonzales, Communications Coordinator Chris Steele, RAM Representative Tori Tillman, Administrative Assistant Pamela Reay and Accounting Clerk Shon Sharma.

I hope all of you have a very happy holiday season and a merry Christmas!

President’s Message

Mike Durant
PORAC President

Law Enforcement Under Attack

Last month, we once again saw horrific attacks on law enforcement, this time in California. On October 5, LASD Sergeant Steve Owen was murdered while responding to a burglary-in-progress call. Just three days later, two officers from Palm Springs P.D. were murdered in cold blood while assisting at a family disturbance call. Officers Jose Gilbert “Gil” Vega and Lesley Zerebny were gunned down by a deranged gang member who was intent on killing police officers. On October 19, Deputy Jack Hopkins was shot and killed responding to a domestic disturbance call.

The common denominator for these incidents, and those throughout our country, is that officers have become a target for doing the job of protecting the public. As the pundits continue to excuse thugs who commit crimes and won’t follow simple directions from law enforcement, we need elected leaders to stand with public safety. We see many of these elected officials standing in front of a camera or on a social media platform questioning every action taken by officers long before any investigation is completed or, in some instances, even started! They are quick to condemn our actions while having never experienced situations where life-and-death decisions must be made in nanoseconds.

Now more than ever, all in public safety must come together to protect each other and highlight the good work that you do daily. PORAC will be working with Marketplace Communications on how best to deliver that message. During a recent meeting in Sacramento of law enforcement association stakeholders, all of those present recommended that PORAC be the primary conduit for gathering information and creating a positive message for California public safety.

PORAC’s Fall Lobbying Trip in D.C.

In recent years, PORAC has broadened its footprint in Washington, D.C., with our advocates Steptoe & Johnson. Members of Congress and both California senators consistently seek out PORAC’s position on all law enforcement issues. This relationship also manifests itself with agencies in the executive branch that seek to consult with PORAC representatives in building and implementing law enforcement programs; the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the COPS Office are two notable examples. Our trip last month included the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), as it begins to consider improvements to the aging 9-1-1 communications system.

State Initiatives

With the general election only days away, PORAC has recommended the following positions on state initiatives:

Proposition 57 (Oppose): Increases parole chances for felons convicted of nonviolent crimes and gives them more opportunities to earn credits for good behavior.

Proposition 62 (Oppose): Repeals the state’s death penalty.

Proposition 63 (Oppose): Prohibits possession of large-capacity ammunition magazines and requires individuals to pass a background check and receive authorization from the DOJ in order to purchase ammunition.

Proposition 64 (Oppose): Legalizes marijuana and hemp under state law and enacts certain sales and cultivation taxes.

Proposition 66 (Support): Changes procedures governing state court appeals and petitions challenging death penalty convictions and sentences.

For a complete list of our endorsed candidates as well as our positions on the various initiatives, please go to porac.org.

Conference Preparation

Are you ready for Conference? PORAC is putting the finishing touches on our 64th Annual Conference of Members (November 17 to November 20) at Disneyland®. During our Conference, your Board of Directors takes time to set our legislative agenda for the next cycle in Sacramento. This is a very important process for the Board, as the legislative agenda then sets an important part of PORAC’s goals for the coming year. During these meetings, many issues and great ideas are discussed. With the expert guidance of Aaron Read and Randy Perry, we manage to navigate through the discussions to come together with a comprehensive packet of proposed legislation for the coming year.

You may wonder how PORAC comes up with some of the proposals in our legislative agenda. The simple answer is that most of the ideas or concepts for legislation come from you, the members. Association leaders and members often present ideas at chapter meetings for either creating a new law or amending a current one. Each of you has great ideas, and your input is vital for the future of public safety. Thank you all for providing your Board the tools necessary to move our agenda forward.

Please keep the families of Sergeant Owen, Officers Vega and Zerebny, Deputy Hopkins and all of our heroes who have given the ultimate sacrifice in your thoughts and prayers.

President’s Message

Mike Durant
PORAC President

Legislature Recesses for 2016

September marked the end of a two-year session at our State Capitol. The legislative battles reflected one of the most difficult years we’ve experienced. The challenges that began with Ferguson almost two years ago continued to echo in the Capitol. While past years were monopolized by budget battles, this year the conversations have been significantly more personal against law enforcement. Not long ago we saw Senator Mark Leno (SB 1286) take direct aim at all of us who wear a uniform. We also saw a second straight year of legislation for body cameras, along with issues of racial profiling, civilian oversight, mental health and implicit bias.

Thankfully, PORAC has Aaron Read & Associates fighting for us on the front line in Sacramento. Analyzing hundreds of bills each week, our advocates at ARA offer insight that only decades of experience under the Capitol dome can provide. PORAC is very fortunate to have the highest-caliber team of advocates in the business, led by Aaron Read and Randy Perry, as our voice in the Capitol.

Months of meetings and dozens of strategy sessions happen throughout the year, where your PORAC leadership conveys the concerns of the rank and file in priority discussions with California policymakers. Educating our elected officials starts long before they run for office, and continues through their races and after they are elected. We are proud that PORAC has remained the leading voice for law enforcement and the first organization that legislators turn to for input on public safety issues.

Over the past several years, ARA has worked in partnership with Marketplace Communications, its sister company, to help PORAC navigate these troubled times with enhanced messaging capabilities. Terry McHale and Michele Cervone are always right on point to help get our messages out to the media and our membership.

Initiatives

Although PORAC has taken a position on a number of the initiatives we will face in the November election, several in particular should be brought into the spotlight: No on Proposition 57, No on Proposition 62, No on Proposition 64 and Yes on Proposition 66. For a complete list of our endorsed candidates as well as our positions on the various initiatives, please go to www.porac.org.

Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor

We recently honored seven peace officers and one firefighter who went above and beyond the call of duty. During the ceremony held in Sacramento in early September, Attorney General Harris stated: “These heroes demonstrated unparalleled valor and courage, risking their own safety and well-being, in incredibly difficult and dangerous circumstances. Their bravery embodies the spirit of public service and exemplifies the best of these noble professions.”

The Governor’s Medal of Valor recipients are California Highway Patrol Officer Brett Peters, San Diego Firefighter Alexander Wallbrett, Redlands Police Officer Joseph Aguilar, San Bernardino Police Officers Nicholas Koahou and Brian Olvera, San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department Corporals Rafael Ixco and Chad Johnson, and San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Deputy Bruce Southworth. Thank you for protecting our communities, families and everyone in our great state. PORAC congratulates these brave heroes.

Urban Shield

PORAC was recently invited to observe Urban Shield training, hosted by Alameda County Sheriff Greg Ahern. Alameda Sheriff’s Captain Don Mattison was in charge of the event, which brought together more than 50 SWAT teams, EMS personnel, bomb technicians and just about every other type of rescue personnel from around the region. The exercise consists of several individual scenarios located all over the Bay Area. The teams start on Friday morning at 5 a.m. and continue for 48 straight hours, being challenged at every turn.

Each year, two additional California agencies are invited to participate. This year, one of them was my own Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department Special Enforcement Team. I had the opportunity to observe many of the scenarios for my own team as well as several other teams who participated.

Alameda Sheriff’s Commander Tom Madigan is recognized as one of the nation’s top representatives for deploying drones to assist law enforcement. We were given a demonstration of their capability to see what dangers our officers may encounter long before they are put into harm’s way. PORAC will be working with Commander Madigan and others to make sure this technology is available to law enforcement.

Alameda Sheriff’s Sergeant Neil Gonzalgo navigated the roads and freeways to bring us to the various events throughout the Bay Area and got us directly into the scenarios to optimize our time. PORAC thanks Sheriff Ahern and Captain Mattison, who provided a great venue to observe some of the best of the best in our members.

 

President’s Message

Mike Durant
PORAC President

In the late afternoon of Thursday, July 7, many of us began to learn of the horrific tragedy that was unfolding in the city of Dallas, Texas. I was on the phone with PORAC Treasurer Marcelo Blanco, who told me to turn on the news because several officers had been shot in Dallas.

When I tuned in, I was completely shocked to see so many officers injured, having fallen where they stood. Immediately it brought to mind the terror attacks America faced on September 11, 2001, as well as the tragedy of our four Oakland officers on March 21, 2009, and four officers in Lakewood, Washington, on November 29, 2009.

As the events unfolded in Dallas that afternoon and into the evening, we learned that five of our brother officers had made the ultimate sacrifice in protecting the citizens of their city. The next morning, PORAC put out the following statement:

All of PORAC mourns the senseless murders in Dallas yesterday evening of police officers who were targeted because they wore a uniform that distinguishes them as the front line of community protection and service.

The killing of five police officers and the wounding of six others is a tragic, almost unimaginable example of the dangers law enforcement confronts now on a daily basis. Everyone, policymakers, law enforcement and private citizens alike, must take notice that the appalling level of escalating violence in our communities is a national crisis.

We are reminded again that the war on law enforcement is more than a source of terrible grief. We must consider as a society how we are going to resolve a situation where the peace officer is targeted in the course and scope of enforcing our laws. We also remember that those who choose violence also wounded two innocent bystanders in Texas.

Families have been shattered and children are left without a parent, and we as individuals have lost courageous examples of civility and commitment and courage. We pray for those brave officers who gave all, and we grieve and offer our complete support in the coming days to their loved ones and colleagues.

We work in perilous conditions. PORAC urges every man and woman who proudly wears a badge to be vigilant. God bless all of you.

Less than a week later, the following Sunday morning, we saw a similar incident in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Six law enforcement professionals were gunned down, three fatally, by a madman hell-bent on taking his vengeance out against professional peace officers.

Over the past several months, we have seen law enforcement become the targets of those who believe that they must right any perceived wrong. The problem is that none of our fellow brothers or sisters wearing a badge are afforded a similar path to justice. We are all becoming scapegoats for the mainstream media, as well as those who believe they must take matters into their own hands.

Many years ago, all of us took an oath to protect and serve our communities and put bad guys in jail. Now we must do that as well as being the social worker, absent parent, team mom, mediator and all-around go-to person to solve the problems of those who apparently can no longer handle their own lives, all the while being judged for every decision made, sometimes in less than a second or two.

These are some of the most difficult times I have ever witnessed as a law enforcement professional. Together, we will persevere through any obstacles put before us. It’s in our DNA. We will continue to put on the uniform, pin our badges on our chests and go forth to protect our communities.

In remembrance of those who lost their lives in protecting our communities, I would like to share with you one of the final Facebook posts by Montrell Jackson, one of the tragically murdered police officers from Baton Rouge Police Department. Know that all of us at PORAC are proud of the job all of you do every day.

President’s Message

President’s Message

MIKE DURANT PORAC President

San Jose Police Officer Michael Katherman
On Tuesday evening, June 14, while attending a PORAC Bay Area Chapter meeting in Martinez hosted by Contra Costa DSA, all of us in attendance learned of a horrific motorcycle accident involving San Jose Police Officer Michael Katherman. A few short hours before our meeting began, he was involved in an on-duty vehicle collision while riding his police motorcycle. Sadly, Officer Katherman did not survive the accident and joined the honor roll of California peace officers killed in the line of duty.
The following week, representatives of PORAC and several thousand other law enforcement officials attended the memorial services for Officer Katherman at the SAP Center in San Jose. It was, by far, one of the most memorable services I have ever attended. Some of his closest friends since childhood spoke, along with his father and college roommate.
Michael Katherman loved life, his wife, April, and their two children, and he loved being a motor officer for the San Jose Police Department. I wish I had had the opportunity to meet him. Clearly, he touched many lives. Please keep the Katherman family, as well as the San Jose Police Department, in your thoughts and prayers.
SB 1286
A hard-won victory for law enforcement occurred last month as the highly anticipated Senate Bill 1286, authored by Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), was held on suspense in Senate Appropriations. The end result is that the cost and merits of the bill were not compelling enough for it to be considered on the floor of the Senate.
We previously reported that this bill would have allowed easy public access to police personnel and other records. PORAC, along with our legislative advocates at Aaron Read & Associates, legal counsel and other rank-and-file law enforcement organizations, established a working group to strategically tackle each detail of this legislation. Our team spent countless hours meeting with members, discussing the real-world implications, working out our key opposition points and developing an alternative solution to this risky and inherently unpredictable bill.
The intention of our strategy was not to close off all communication between the public and law enforcement. We want clarity, just not at the expense of officer safety. We believe there is a reasonable and thoughtful approach to issues such as the release of information, investigations and complaints. The working group unanimously agreed that Senator Leno’s bill went significantly beyond transparency and would take away the privacy rights of victims, complainants and law enforcement officers. In effect, this breach of privacy could create a dangerous environment for anyone involved in an incident.
During the intensive lobbying, advocates for the legislation contacted law enforcement leaders several times to request that we consider a compromise in the form of amendments to make the legislation less onerous to law enforcement. Senator Leno did not come to law enforcement prior to the bill being introduced to discuss our thoughts and concerns, so we did not accept or offer any amendments to the bill. We strictly opposed what we felt was a disingenuous situation engendered by the author.
Many legislators shared their concerns about voting against the bill. Finally, legislative leadership contacted PORAC to inform us that SB 1286 was held — effectively killing it. This demonstrates just how important it is for us to stay engaged politically and continue working with our advocates to educate policymakers on the issues important to PORAC.
The discussion of transparency in law enforcement is not going to disappear. We see it everywhere in the news and social media. And we will continue to engage in the discussion openly and honestly in both the state and federal arenas. The support of our members allows us to continue using our voices to enhance the safety of our officers and represent the courageous men and women who sacrifice their lives to protect others. Once again, it was PORAC and our representatives who, in the end, defeated this provocative but poorly created bill.
PORAC Scholarships
Each year our PORAC Scholarship Committee reviews several hundred applications during the days of the Peace Officers’ Memorial events and in conjunction with our May Board of Directors meeting in Sacramento. During our local chapter meetings throughout the summer, PORAC presents several college scholarships to the children and dependents of our members. This year, your Scholarship Committee reviewed more than 180 applications and awarded 25 scholarships to very deserving students. PORAC is very proud of the families of our future generation. As parents, each of us wants the very best for the future of our children and instills our high standard of values in each of them. Thanks to each of your children for participating in our PORAC Scholarship Program. We congratulate you on your accomplishments!

President’s Message

mike durant
PORAC President

 

California Peace Officers’ Memorial Ceremony

Last month was the annual California Peace Officers’ Memorial Ceremony in Sacramento, as well as the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Ceremony in Washington, D.C. Both were solemn events that stunningly honored our fallen heroes from 2015 and one officer from years past who was formerly unrecognized. PORAC once again had the privilege of providing lunch for each person attending the state ceremony.

PORAC Board of Directors Meeting in Sacramento

In early May, your PORAC Board of Directors met in Sacramento in conjunction with the memorial ceremony. Four times a year, the Board meets to discuss issues facing our members. We should be very proud of the dedication each Board member is demonstrating on behalf of all peace officers in California and Nevada.

During this meeting in particular, several Assembly and Senate races were discussed and many endorsements were either made or codified from past meetings. Many bills were also discussed and positions taken to support or oppose specific legislation. Once again, PORAC is the leader throughout the state in advocating for the rights and benefits of all peace officers.

PORAC Legislative Day

On PORAC’s annual Legislative Day, members of 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 PORAC has been working on that could have a tremendous impact on all of law enforcement. This year, several pieces of legislation were pertinent to all of us. SB 1286 (Leno) would adversely impact our current POBR, and AB 1940 (Cooper) will put forward meaningful protections for law enforcement in the use of body-worn cameras. Aaron Read, Randy Perry and Michele Cervone provided PORAC with detailed talking points. After a short briefing, each of us met with our respective legislators and discussed those points. 

After our meetings at the Capitol, we met with several of these legislators across the street at the Sutter Club for our Legislative Reception. Our event was attended by well over 50 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 trips in recent years.

 

Photo Info: President Durant and Vice President Meyer with C.O.P.S.
Executive Director Diane Bernhard during National Police Week

National Police Week in Washington, D.C.

Vice President Brent Meyer and I had the privilege of representing PORAC at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Ceremony in Washington, D.C. PORAC has long been a supporter of our local chapters of Concerns of Police Survivors, as well as assisting the National C.O.P.S. organization during National Police Week. I would like to thank National Southwestern Trustee Tami McMillan for helping PORAC be prominently recognized as a partner with C.O.P.S. I would also like to thank Northern California Chapter President Susan Moody, Central California Chapter President Jim Howell, and Irma Rios and Jeff Huss from Southern California Chapter for their dedication to C.O.P.S. and assisting all of our members who traveled to Washington.

Death Penalty Reform and Savings

More than two years ago, PORAC was a part of a coalition of public safety organizations that assisted in defeating Proposition 34, which would have completely eliminated the death penalty in California. We then made a commitment to assist in writing a proposition that would streamline the death penalty process for the most heinous criminals in our great state. PORAC is very pleased to let all of our members know that our efforts have been successful. In partnership with many other law enforcement groups, district attorneys and several members of the public, we have now qualified our Death Penalty Reform and Savings Initiative for the November general election ballot. Although we still have much work to do, I am confident the residents of California will see that our initiative corrects many issues that have delayed the current process for those condemned to death for their part in the most gruesome of murders, including the slayings of many of our brothers and sisters in law enforcement.

President’s Message

Mike Durant
PORAC President

 

Executive Committee Meets in Reno

Your PORAC Executive Committee met last month in Reno, Nevada, at the Silver Legacy Resort Casino in conjunction with our PORAC Training and Labor Symposium. During the meeting, those present discussed PORAC business and activities, including the lobbying trip to Washington, D.C., scheduled the week after the symposium.

There were over 195 members registered for the symposium, including the representatives of your PORAC Executive Committee, chapter directors and those who registered at the door. PORAC Training and Labor Consultant Claude Alber did a great job of putting together the best speakers available, who provided the most up-to-date information. Thank you to all of the instructors who participated in this year’s event.

PORAC advocate Randy Perry started off the training by providing an in-depth analysis of the current legislation aimed at public employees, mainly law enforcement. Following Randy was a presentation by PORAC LDF Chairman Fred Rowbotham and PORAC LDF Administrator Ed Fishman. They gave a great update on LDF and discussed the best possible way for your association to curtail costs associated with your LDF usage. They concluded with a bright financial picture for PORAC LDF moving forward. In the afternoon on the first day, representatives from the Jones Clifford law firm gave an excellent, detailed description of various workers’ compensation issues facing public safety members throughout the country.

The second day of training was presented by Rick Braziel, retired Sacramento Police Chief and representative of the Police Foundation. Rick gave a detailed presentation on the Stockton bank robbery case and Ferguson debrief. After intently listening to both presentations, our members were also completely engaged in the aftermath discussions.

PORAC Representatives in Washington, D.C.

Shortly after completing the symposium in Reno, representatives from your  Executive Committee, along with SPAC Chairman William Cho and PORAN President Tim Ross, traveled to the nation’s capital to meet with our federal legislators. Steptoe & Johnson representatives Darryl Nirenberg, Jason Abel and Eva Rigamonti gave us a complete briefing Monday evening shortly after our arrival. Clearly the following two days would be very busy, but most importantly, very beneficial and timely for weighing in on current and proposed federal legislation. PORAC Vice President Brent Meyer did an outstanding job in his article this month explaining our entire trip.

California Peace Officers’ Memorial Ceremony

In May, memorial ceremonies are held throughout the United States to honor the brave peace officers who laid down their lives in sacrifice for the safety of the citizens they are sworn to protect. Many of your PORAC elected representatives 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 attention as each of us, as they may not even be fully aware of the daily risks that a peace officer faces on the job, but we will never forget these heroes. The first recorded killing of a peace officer was in 1792. Since then, there have been more than 19,800 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 that these are not just names — they are mothers, fathers, sons, daughters and other family members, including our friends, partners and co-workers. These were the peace officers whom not only we, the law enforcement community, but all citizens of the United States could count on, and they gave their lives for all of us. Nobody had to ask them, they just did; it comes with the responsibility, duty and honor of wearing the badge.

The last line of the poem engraved on the California memorial reads, “I ask for all here from the past, dear God, let my name be the last.” But 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, peace officers will be killed in the line of duty and names will continue to be added to the monument. This is the price we may be asked to pay so that the citizens of California and throughout the country will have a safer place to work and raise their families and for businesses to prosper.

May is also the month that we remember and honor those who have laid down their lives to preserve the freedom and safety of our nation. Memorial Day is when we honor the veterans of military service who protected our country and our freedom in times of war. 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 Memorial Day and throughout the year.

President’s Message

MIKE DURANT
PORAC President

A few years ago, we were 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 readers with some great stories of the victories, tragedies and challenges of several associations. This month is clearly no different. With all the issues that have befallen the city of San Bernardino, this month’s article sheds light on just how tough things have been for our PORAC members there. We hope you appreciate their story.

It would be naïve for any of us in law enforcement to believe that the entire landscape, both legislatively and in terms of media outreach, has not been changed dramatically by the tragedies and confrontations between citizens and the law enforcement community. Almost every encounter between law enforcement and private citizens is being viewed in some quarters as bullying or strong-arm tactics by officers. All of us should recognize that we have entered an age where we need to reacquaint ourselves with those we have sworn to protect and serve, and to educate policymakers and our own neighbors that we became law enforcement officers because of our great respect for working with our community.

We have had the opportunity to write opinion pieces and appear in legislative hearings to explain very clearly that law enforcement absolutely wants to be part of the solution. Our teams at Aaron Read & Associates and Marketplace Communications are there at every turn to ensure that PORAC is the law enforcement voice that policymakers and the media turn to first. We are listening to individuals from all quarters. Every person with whom we make contact is important, and the safety of our members and the citizens we are sworn to protect and serve is paramount to us.

This year we are facing a staggering number of legislative bills. To date, there have been 3,201 Assembly bills and 1,736 Senate bills introduced. That means PORAC and our advocates at ARA have sifted through more than 4,900 bills, a staggering number due to the fact that we are in the second year of a two-year legislative session. Our teams at ARA and PORAC have spent countless hours discussing which pieces of legislation are relevant to you and which issues PORAC should actively engage in. This is not a task that ends with the first discussion. Bills are amended over the course of months and the analysis continues with those changes; on many occasions this happens numerous times throughout the course of the legislative session.

Recently, without any warning and on the deadline for bill introduction, Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) introduced Senate Bill 1286. The purpose of the bill, should it become law, is to roll back many of the protections we receive via the Peace Officer Bill of Rights (POBR). Leno describes his bill as bringing transparency to law enforcement. What it really does is ridicule law enforcement officers with public reviews of all of our records and hearings regarding police discipline matters. We caught word of this bill immediately and have been watching Leno’s every move in relation to it. PORAC and our advocates at ARA, along with many other law enforcement organizations and stakeholders, such as Californians for Retirement Security, have already begun to strategize about how best to neutralize this draconian piece of legislation.

Due to scheduling conflicts and the federal legislative calendar, your PORAC Executive Committee will be traveling to Washington, D.C., later this month to meet with our federal legislators to discuss the priorities for public safety in California. During these meetings with our congressional delegation, PORAC will demonstrate and explain how certain pieces of legislation will affect law enforcement in California and throughout the country.

Also this month, many of us will come together in Reno, Nevada, 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 executive officers and 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 and your association.

It is tax time, and we would like to remind all of our members that the California Peace Officers’ Memorial Fund needs your assistance. While you are completing your California tax returns, please take a moment to check the box to donate to the memorial. 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!

 

PERS COLA Adjustments

 

The California Public Employees’ Retirement System reported at its March 16 Pension and Health Benefits Committee meeting on the retiree cost-of-living adjustments for May 2016. Because the rate of inflation for the year ending December 2015 was only .120%, there will be an impact on the upcoming cost-of-living increases, especially for those who have retired in the last 10 years. The reported increases are shown at right.

 

Year of Retirement              

COLA Effective May 1, 2016

2004 and earlier2%
2005    1.555%
2006–2014No increase
2015    Not eligible

CLICK HERE to see the entire report on the COLA adjustments.

President’s Message

Mike Durant
PORAC President

Since the beginning of the year, it seems we have too frequently been hearing from around the country of the loss of another of our law enforcement family members. These tragedies hit at our core and affect all of us and our families in many ways. No matter how it affects us, we as association leaders and representatives of our local departments must act to protect and provide guidance for the families of our fallen brothers and sisters. We can put you in touch with many representatives, including Renee Hassna, Oakland POA Executive Director; one of the presidents of the three California chapters of Concerns of Police Survivors; or the California Peace Officers’ Memorial Fund, all of whom will assist you and your association. That is one of the many benefits of PORAC membership.

The PORAC Board of Directors and trustees of our various benefit trusts are composed of active, working law enforcement members who are continually making decisions for the betterment of our members. Whether it is our Retiree Medical Trust, providing financial stability for medical costs into retirement, or our Legal Defense Fund Trust, providing the very best legal coverage available (including access to the most well-respected and proven law firms throughout California), PORAC will always be available to assist our members and association leaders.

One of the benefits of PORAC membership is the vast array of insurance options offered through our Insurance and Benefits Trust. Our elected I & B trustees are continually reviewing the various benefits offered and increasing those benefits whenever possible. Whether you are a part of our Short or Long Term Disability Plan or have a separate term-life policy in place for your members, PORAC, along with our partners at Myers-Stevens & Toohey & Co., offers a vehicle to make sure that our members and their families are covered in case of a tragedy. This ties in directly to the tremendous loss we feel when we lose a brother or sister in law enforcement — we as leaders need to ensure that our members and their families are protected.

As all of you know, many months ago Attorney General Harris gathered a group of law enforcement leaders from around the state to address many aspects of policing, including body-worn cameras (BWCs) and community relations. This group is now known as the 21st Century Policing Working Group and includes police chiefs, representatives from sheriff’s departments and many other members of the state’s largest agencies. PORAC is one of several labor associations and organizations that participate. Attorney General Harris asked all of the representatives to provide input for language that she could consider for law enforcement best practices throughout California.

PORAC and LDF had already tasked Randy Perry and LDF Administrator Ed Fishman with assembling our panel attorneys to come up with language we could all use at the local level addressing the use and implementation of BWCs, as well as to provide input to lawmakers on what should be included in proposed legislation.

Last month, Attorney General Harris convened the working group. PORAC has played a big part in assisting the Attorney General, most notably in crafting the BWC language. PORAC was the only organization that provided any written feedback to Attorney General Harris, including a complete list of what we believe are the best practices that should be included in legislation and local department policies.

Larry Wallace, Director of Law Enforcement for the Attorney General, asked PORAC to give a short presentation on the proposed policies to be included in the Attorney General’s recommendations.

PORAC Vice President Brent Meyer, PORAC LDF Administrator Ed Fishman and I attended the meeting. Once again, Ed Fishman rose to the occasion and gave a stellar presentation. He presented the policies and best practices to the working group, which included Attorney General Harris. Ed went into detail about how officers should have the ability to review any video footage, including from BWCs, prior to writing any reports. While listening to Ed, we had the opportunity to watch the reaction of all of the high-ranking law enforcement representatives from around the state. It was clear that we are the leading voice of law enforcement in California. When Ed had finished his presentation, there were no questions and others who were asked for additional input provided none!

In the end, Attorney General Harris and her representatives thanked Ed and PORAC for providing her office with a comprehensive map and solutions to many issues we are all facing throughout our communities. Clearly the teamwork by PORAC and LDF had made a difference in protecting all of public safety in California.

Check the Box

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