President’s Message

Brian R. Marvel
PORAC President

PORAC was founded in 1953 when less than three dozen California peace officers formed a special association, collectively motivated to professionalize our occupation, with service at the core. One of the earliest successes was the development and implementation into law of the first “peace officers standards setting” agency, now POST, which was eventually followed by the rest of the nation. On that foundation, we built strength to increase our rights and benefits as peace officers. We began to have greater self-determination and autonomy from city and county administrators, along with police management. We have met some of the toughest times — recessions, natural disasters, legislation and now, a global pandemic — head-on. I am proud to be at the helm and strive every day to continue our legacy of exceptional service and professionalism.

My joke about 2020 is, how could it not see COVID-19 coming? The reality is, no one could have predicted this year’s crisis, its effect on the economy or the impact it will have on our respective agencies. Will things get turned around quickly, or will it take years? What challenges do you face in your day-to-day living, family and financial concerns, retirement, and pension issues? Amid the uncertainty, PORAC is here to support our affiliates and their members. Check out our COVID-19 landing page at PORAC.org. It has a variety of important resources, a list of our priorities, articles about how your voice is heard in Sacramento and Washington, D.C., information about the free Hazardous Exposure Listing Program (H.E.L.P.) and our special On the Job With PORAC podcast, to name a few. If you have not seen it, visit our website and click on “Policing in a Pandemic.”

PORAC’s strength is anchored by your loyalty, the commitment of our three trusts — IBT, RMT and LDF — all of our employees and the consistent stewardship of the organization’s financial resources. I want PORAC to provide the best possible benefits at the lowest possible cost to our members. I believe we have the best legal, retiree and insurance trusts in the nation. They are all on a solid financial footing and have an excellent infrastructure to serve us well into the future. PORAC really is the platinum choice. As of this year, our Retiree Medical Trust will be open to all 50 states. If you do not have retiree health benefits, you should have your association reach out as soon as possible — it is an incredible benefit. The money goes in pre-tax, income earned is tax-free and you are reimbursed tax-free for covered medical expenses and health insurance premiums. It’s hard to beat that!

The state Assembly reconvened from spring recess on May 4 and our state senators on May 11. The Assembly wasted no time in amending and moving bills through its respective committees. Damon Kurtz, Randy Perry, Aaron Read, Michele Cervone and I worked through 21 pages of bills set for the Assembly (anti-)Public Safety Committee Hearing that occurred on May 19. One of the bills I would like to discuss is AB 1945 by Assemblymember Salas. This bill will bring dispatchers under the fold of first responders. When it was initially introduced, it had language that would have included non-dispatchers and private contractors. This was unacceptable to PORAC. We immediately reached out to Assemblymember Salas and his office to express our concerns. In the meantime, we had to take an active oppose position. I want to thank folks who did reach out and ask for an explanation of why we opposed AB 1945. Since then, we have worked with Salas’ office, submitted amendments and have taken a neutral position. We anticipate discussing this more at our full board meeting on June 15. Please visit our website to view more of our state and federal advocacy programs.

As the state and nation slowly open back up, PORAC’s promise to provide first-class benefits with outstanding service continues to drive us forward. We will be there for you during the pandemic and well after it ends while ensuring the enduring strength of our organization. Fulfilling our mission statement in these times matters more than ever. Thank you for placing your trust in PORAC and the work we are doing for you in California, the State Capitol and Washington, D.C.

Stay safe.

President’s Message

Brian R. Marvel
PORAC President

Traditionally, May is the time of the year when the law enforcement family from across the country comes together to honor all the officers who made the ultimate sacrifice in service of their communities. It is a month marked by hundreds of solemn yet heartfelt ceremonies, including national observances on Peace Officers Memorial Day and throughout Police Week. However, the unprecedented impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has turned our world upside down. Along with school and business closures, events of all kinds are being canceled, and sadly included among them are peace officer memorial ceremonies.

Although the state and national memorials have been canceled, on May 13 the National Law Enforcement Memorial and Museum is planning to hold a virtual Candlelight Vigil and reading of the names that will be added to the memorial this year (visit nleomf.org for more information). The California Peace Officers’ Memorial Foundation (CPOMF) leadership and the board have decided to honor both the 2019 and 2020 fallen in May 2021. This was by no means an easy decision, but under the circumstances, it was the right course of action to take for everybody’s safety.

Despite this development, we believe it is important to make sure that we still recognize and memorialize our fallen officers and deputies. That is why PORAC is dedicating this issue of the magazine to the California officers — five who made the ultimate sacrifice in 2019 and two from the distant past — who were to be honored in public ceremonies in Sacramento and Washington, D.C. Our goal is to create a commemorative issue in remembrance of Sergeant Steve Licon, Deputy Brian Ishmael, Officers Natalie Corona, Toshio Hirai, Andre Moye Jr. and Tara O’Sullivan, and Correctional Officer Armando Gallegos Jr. We want to acknowledge the sacrifices they made on behalf of their respective agencies and communities, and most importantly, we want their families to know that they are still in our thoughts and prayers and that they won’t be forgotten this year, next year and years into the future.

Hopefully with this small tribute to their sacrifice and memory, on May 4 at 10:30 a.m., we can all take a moment of silence to memorialize them. Please visit our social media sites on that date and time for a tribute video in their honor.

Since our last issue, PORAC has been working extremely hard on making sure that first responders have an adequate supply of personal protective equipment (PPE). I have fielded numerous calls from Board directors, chapter presidents and individual members asking for more PPE. We worked diligently to find suppliers who had PPE on hand and were willing to sell it to first responders. We also pressed the Governor’s Office and legislators about placing first responders on a high-priority list to receive PPE and ensuring that there was an adequate supply coming in on a regular basis. We experienced some success in certain areas, but unfortunately, at the time of this writing, we have been unable to confirm whether all the agencies in need were adequately supplied.

On top of that, we have been pushing for expedited testing for first responders who are showing symptoms or have encountered individuals infected with the coronavirus. First responders encounter the most vulnerable populations in our society each day. Because of this, and since many health experts have reported that a high percentage of people are infected yet asymptomatic, we feel that it is important that there is adequate testing for all first responders. The state should have stepped up and made first responder-only testing sites a priority, like what we saw in Washington state. Sadly, it befell association leaders to facilitate this. Even as I write this, test kits are still not readily available, and California ranks 48th in the nation per capita on testing. It seems every path we try to get the testing sites as a priority, we receive pushback, or it ultimately leads to a dead end. Despite all the hurdles, we are remaining steadfast in our efforts to ensure first responders are not left out of our elected officials’ responses to the pandemic.

As we work behind the scenes to help create safe and protected working conditions, we are also keeping members informed with an array of COVID-19 resources available on our website (PORAC.org/covid19), social media, podcasts and e-newsletters. Also, in this issue, you will find an in-depth article on the various benefits and protections available to law enforcement (see page 20). Even though COVID-19 has not yet been recognized as a workers’ compensation presumption, rest assured that there are ways for you to take care of yourself and your family should the need arise.

Stay safe and healthy.

President’s Message

Brian R. Marvel
PORAC President

I want to start by thanking you for being a valued member of PORAC during these uncertain times. I know everyone is working hard to keep their communities safe while also keeping themselves and their families healthy. Although the PORAC office is closed, we are working very hard on the state and federal level to make sure the working conditions and safety of all first responders and public safety officers are not left out of the equation as elected officials react to the coronavirus pandemic. Here are the top priorities we are working on:

  • Requesting personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Priority testing for first responders
  • Making COVID-19 a workers’ compensation presumption
  • Major funding for equipment, personnel, compensation and other costs associated with COVID-19
  • When a vaccine becomes available, first responders are a priority

With these goals in mind, we reached out to the offices of the Governor, Senate Pro Tem and Speaker, asking for immediate assistance. Vice President Kurtz, the Executive Committee and I held several tele-townhall meetings broken up by region for all our statewide and federal elected officials. We stressed the importance of PPE and testing. Seattle and Chicago created first responder testing sites, which have been a huge success. They are easily replicable and there’s no reason why California can’t do it too. Longer-term priorities include making sure COVID-19 is a presumption under workers’ comp and including first responders among the highest priorities to receive a vaccine if a protocol is approved by the FDA. We’ve asked our advocates in Washington, D.C., to make the same requests of our elected leaders at the federal level. Rest assured that PORAC will make the workers’ comp issue one of our top concerns in the coming weeks or months. As of this writing, the State Legislature is in recess until at least April 13, but lawmakers are still working remotely. During this time, we will continue to lobby to make COVID-19 a presumption. Due to the projected infection rate, we believe it’s vitally important to make sure this is covered. Check out our website for all the letters that were sent.

As we deal with this unprecedented pandemic as labor leaders, we need to make sure that we’re addressing our collective bargaining issues within our respective jurisdictions. The highest priorities should be securing adequate safety equipment and establishing agreements regarding paid administrative leave for first responders who are forced to stay home from work. There should be presumptive sick leave usage without medical verification due to illness, and if the employee is able to prove that it was COVID-19 they should qualify for paid administrative leave. You need to be very cognizant of shift and vacation schedules and how your departments will handle those. Some other options to look at are waiving leave accrual caps and waiving copays and out-of-pocket expenses associated with COVID-19. These are just a few of the items that your collective bargaining units need to be advocating for.

Labor leaders should be actively working with their mayors, county supervisors and human resources departments to ensure that they get either written agreements or tentative verbal agreements that can later be codified in writing. Make sure that your union leaders aren’t forgoing their meet-and-confer rights because of the declared emergency — now more than ever, it is important to stress and exercise those rights. As labor leaders, we have to demand the facts, including the source of the information that the city, county or state is relying on. If there are going to be unilateral changes within your agency, your government must articulate why these changes are necessary. Please utilize your law firm’s expertise in this area. We have the best attorneys in the nation working for PORAC associations.

It’s become abundantly clear that agencies are canceling leave and training. What’s being closed and modified changes hour by hour, so as first responders we need to make sure that we’re using all of the training we’ve received in regard to washing our hands, using hand sanitizer, using face masks as appropriate and protecting ourselves when dealing with the public in the course of our duties. Better to be overprepared in contacting someone who may have COVID-19 than to be underprepared. No one wants to infect our colleagues or family, and your community is counting on you. It is during such times that we always rise to the occasion and exceed expectations.

As we are asking you to be cautious at work, we are taking the same precautions with our events, as well. As you may have heard by now, PORAC has made the decision to cancel April’s IMPACT 2020 Symposium and POREF Open Golf Tournament. While it was a difficult choice to make, it was the right one. We know this is the best course of action to protect the health of our members, presenters, guests, staff and their families. In case you haven’t heard, with deep sadness, the California Peace Officers’ Memorial Ceremony in May has been canceled due to issues outside CPOMF’s control. Although we won’t be able to honor our fallen officers in the traditional way, we want to make sure the family members of the fallen are not forgotten. They need to know that we are here for them and will support them. They may not receive formal recognition this May, but I know the CPOMF board will do everything in their power to make sure we do something to pay tribute to the fallen, either later this year or at the 2021 event. In addition, I have been informed that the national memorial, Police Week, has also been canceled. However, they plan on having a virtual candlelight vigil on Wednesday, May 13, to read the names of the fallen who were to be enrolled on the wall this year. You can watch this from anywhere in the world. Please go to nleomf.org for additional information.

As we all face new and escalating dangers in the course of our duties, I want to remind you of PORAC’s Hazardous Exposure Listing Program (HELP). This is a free tool for all PORAC members, and there is no better time than now to create an account and start documenting any exposures you’ve had that are hazardous to your health. I know we all have reporting systems in our own respective agencies, but this is a private, confidential system that you control to track your own exposures, just in case your agency loses or forgets about them. Learn more and get started today at PORAC.org/resources/hazardous-exposure-listing-program.

Please be sure to follow PORAC’s social media platforms, where we’ll continue to put out up-to-the-minute information as soon as we receive and verify it. Please send any COVID-19 information about your agency or members doing great work to COVID19@porac.org. Stay safe and healthy.  

PORAC COVID-19 Resource Page

President’s Message

Brian R. Marvel
PORAC President

Spring is here, and for many, that means it’s time to organize, declutter and deep-clean your home. In addition to freshening up your living space, spring cleaning is a great opportunity to review important financial planning documents that may not always be at the forefront of your mind, such as your insurance and benefits.

As we progress through our careers with our respective agencies, we sometimes set our insurance and benefits on autopilot, only making sure we have coverage during annual enrollment. We routinely renew our policies year after year, without giving thought to whether we have the appropriate coverage at the most favorable cost. As you know, disaster can strike at any time from many different sources — this includes dying on duty or off. Now is a great time to review those policies, especially your life insurance.

Ask yourself: Is your coverage current and adequate? Will you and your family be taken care of? Do you have all the types of coverage you need? Work with a knowledgeable insurance agent to review your needs and make any necessary adjustments to your current plan. PORAC offers some incredible insurance options through the Insurance and Benefits Trust (IBT). Visit ibtofporac.org and see what we have to offer, and for more information about how IBT serves the membership, check out our Trust profile on page 20. In addition to making sure you’re covered, one of the most important things you need to ensure is that your beneficiary information is up to date. Please, please make sure this information is current and correct. You don’t want your money going to unintended individuals. Sadly, this happens more than you think.

Unfortunately, sometimes, even with careful planning, the unexpected on-the-job injury, fatal accident or line-of-duty death can leave you or your family in need of more assistance than anticipated. In those cases, many often get help from law enforcement members and the community at large, who step up to assist officers or their families by opening up their wallets and contributing what they can to help them get back on their feet. Over the years, I, like you and many of our members, have given to those in need by establishing and donating to online fundraising campaigns on crowdfunding platforms like GoFundMe.

Seeing the contributions many of our associations were making to these campaigns was the impetus behind the creation of PORAC’s Fund a Hero — an in-house fundraising platform for law enforcement, by law enforcement. As you may be aware, Fund a Hero is free to the membership and, unlike other online crowdfunding platforms, has no costly fees associated with launching a campaign. PORAC makes no profit from the fundraisers, meaning that 100% of the proceeds go directly to the officer or family. Also, each campaign is verified by PORAC, so members are protected from donating to fake campaigns, and most importantly, we do not share or sell your information to anyone.

Since its inception last year, we are proud to report that Fund a Hero has hosted numerous successful campaigns that have provided tremendous support to those in need — over $100,000 in donations have gone to survivors of a line-of-duty death, relief funds for families going through medical emergencies and much more. As of this writing, we have a handful of active campaigns on our website, including the recently launched fundraiser for the family of Oxnard Police Officer Nathan Martin, who was tragically killed in a traffic collision while off duty on January 29. We encourage you to contribute to this and all the other worthy causes on our website at PORAC.org/fund-a-hero. I want to thank our members who have helped these campaigns grow; your support has meant the world to officers and their families across the state.

In an effort to keep the momentum going on current campaigns and to ensure the success of future ones, PORAC is in the process of developing resources that will help members maximize the results of their fundraisers. One of those resources will be a promotional packet that will include a checklist of things to do to make sure your campaign is successful; it’ll cover how to promote your fundraiser on social media, how to get the word out to the media and much more. Keep a lookout for this helpful guide in the near future. As with all the campaigns we are promoting, it is important that we share them on our social media platforms; it’s free and expands our reach. Every little bit helps.

Also, a friendly reminder that Symposium and the inaugural POREF Open Golf Tournament are just one month away. If you haven’t already done so, please register online at PORAC.org/events/Symposium. We hope you will join us for these two exciting events — two days of great training and updates, followed by a day spent with friends and colleagues benefiting a worthy cause.

Last but certainly not least, we have dedicated this issue of the magazine to all female officers across the country in honor of National Women’s History Month. Women in law enforcement are breaking barriers while also working hard each day to protect and serve our communities. The women in our ranks deserve to be recognized this month and every month for their invaluable contributions to our profession. Please join us in saluting our sisters in blue.

President’s Message

Brian R. Marvel
PORAC President

Last month, the cover of this magazine said, “Resolve to get involved,” and that’s going to continue to be our motto for this entire year. I probably sound like a broken record, but I want to once again remind you how important it is to be actively engaged, not only in your association but in what’s happening at the state and national levels. I can’t stress that enough, especially as this is a presidential election year. We need to let our elected leaders know that we’re paying attention to the legislation being passed in Sacramento and Washington, D.C. — or the lack thereof, in the latter! There are plenty of obstacles in our path. We can’t allow ourselves to become one of them. The strength and expertise of PORAC mean that when legislation relates to public safety and law enforcement, we are often called upon to discuss our point of view, craft language or provide amendments that improve public safety but don’t jeopardize the safety and working conditions of our members. On the flip side, we occasionally see and will continue to see, certain elected officials who have an agenda to appease a vocal minority and don’t want to work with us on legislation. Sometimes, they will claim to have spoken with us when they haven’t. As we continue to stress the importance of having PORAC at the table, your voice and activism will make certain that every legislator understands we can’t be ignored.

When we can demonstrate that our more than 75,000 members are all closely monitoring their actions, promoting our positions loud and clear, and voting accordingly, we send a message to our elected officials that we stand united as a force to be reckoned with — which allows us to be even more effective in our efforts in both Sacramento and Washington.

Already, as we continue to expand our footprint in our nation’s capital, we’re increasingly being asked to step up and provide our insight on what is happening in California. We have plenty of firsthand expertise on the damage done by measures like Prop 47, Prop 57 and AB 109, and our testimonials can help to ensure that the federal government
doesn’t make the same mistakes our state is making when it comes to public safety.

Our expertise will be needed at the state level as well because we recently learned that California has formed a committee to look at revising the Penal Code. We don’t have many details yet, but I want to make sure this is on your radar, because any cop knows that change to the Penal Code are likely to have a significant impact on our jobs. Unfortunately, at the time of this writing, it appears that none of the members of this new committee have any meaningful prosecutorial or victims’ rights background, which is very disconcerting. Over the last several years, it has increasingly appeared that victims of crime just get lip service from the state, whereas criminals are practically placed on a pedestal. Since we don’t have a seat on the committee, hopefully, we can at least provide letters and testimony conveying our input on penal code revisions that may be detrimental to public safety as well as the members of our profession.

If you’re committed to growing your engagement with PORAC in 2020, attending our annual Symposium April 21–23 in Indian Wells is a great step in the right direction. We have a fantastic lineup of speakers this year who will provide crucial information on the issues that directly affect all of us. One I’d particularly like to highlight is Shelby Chodos, a professor at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, whose presentation is entitled “Out of the Recession Into the Future.” He has an incredible ability to take very complicated financial subjects and make them much more easily understood. The nation’s economy has been growing for the last 11 years, which surpasses the 10-year expansion from 1991 to 2001. As a lot of associations begin to start contract negotiations, he will provide insight on the path ahead.

I also want to strongly encourage you to participate in our inaugural POREF Open Golf Tournament following Symposium. It’s vitally important that we continue to fundraise for our Peace Officers Relief & Education Fund, which not only helps our members with direct cash contributions during extreme hardships, but also assists our family members via scholarships — it’s cops taking care of cops, and I can’t think of a much worthier cause than that. Even if you can’t attend the full Symposium, please try to support the golf tournament in any capacity you can, so we can get this exciting new event off to a strong start.

As we observed Martin Luther King Jr. Day a few days before I sat down to write this, I was struck by a quote making the rounds on social media. Frequently attributed to Dr. King but actually a paraphrase of a statement he made in one of his speeches, it says, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” This is such a powerful idea, and it is quite literally true for those of us who risk our lives in the service of others. No matter what challenges lie ahead, please join with PORAC in continuing to speak out about what matters.

President’s Message

Brian R. Marvel
PORAC President

Happy new year! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season and were able to spend quality time with your loved ones. Beyond the festivities, the holidays are an opportunity to reflect on what you’re most thankful for, including family, friends and colleagues. It’s also a time to reflect on the realities of our profession. For many law enforcement personnel, the holidays are like any other day of the year. We sacrifice spending time with our loved ones so that the members in our community can have peace of mind while celebrating with theirs. In fact, we spend a lot of time away from our families year-round, missing birthdays, sporting events and other milestones because of our sworn duty to protect others. I would like to recognize all the officers who worked during the holidays to keep us safe and extend thanks to those in our communities who are supportive of the many sacrifices made by law enforcement.

We should also be thankful for our Legal Defense Fund attorneys who work relentlessly to represent our members with the utmost skill and professionalism. We arguably have the best and most qualified attorneys in the nation, who make sure the due process rights of our officers are protected. In addition, I would like to thank our vendors, who year after year help make our Conferences, Symposiums, fundraisers and other events possible. We would not be successful without them. These companies and organizations donate their time and money in support of our efforts, which make it all possible.

I would be remiss not to extend our gratitude to the elected officials in both Sacramento and Washington, D.C., who are supporters of PORAC and the law enforcement community in the state and across the nation. Sometimes, these individuals don’t receive the recognition they deserve. We have many friends in our State Legislature and on Capitol Hill who are dedicated to helping us keep our communities safe, although you wouldn’t know that if you relied solely on the media.

In addition to being a time for reflection, the holidays and the start of the new year are a time to look ahead. In 2020, the focus for PORAC will be getting more folks involved and moving forward together as a group. As you know, the last two years were difficult for us legislatively, and with this being a critical election year and the second year of the Legislative session, it looks like we’ll have even more work cut out for us. January will be an exceptionally busy month as over 1,000 bills will be introduced or bills that didn’t make it out last year will be gutted, amended and reintroduced. And if last year is an indication of what the future holds, brace yourself. As the makeup of our State Legislature is a cause for concern, it is not insurmountable. I have always believed rational people who put the work in during negotiations ultimately succeed. PORAC has shown year after year that we bring rational, well-thought-out ideas and proposals to the table, hence the success we see at the Capitol.

Because of the super-supermajority, we’re going to have to rely on more of our members to stand up and make their voices heard in Sacramento and Washington, D.C. We have to let our legislators know that our more than 75,000 members are active and engaged on the issues that are affecting our profession. They need to know you are listening, watching and, most importantly, voting. For those of you who have been publicly pounding the pavement and voicing PORAC’s position on issues, we are thankful for your willingness to do so. You’re not always recognized, but we see and appreciate you.

While we’re thankful for all the things we’ve gotten in 2019, we clearly need to continue to organize our members, educate everyone we come in contact with and constantly advocate for our positions. I hope you’re reinvigorated and ready to tackle the new year together.

President’s Message

Brian R. Marvel
PORAC President

First and foremost, I want to give a big thank-you to all the delegates who joined us at the 67th Annual Conference of Members in Palm Springs. I also hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving with their family and friends and you’re enjoying the run-up to Christmas and New Year’s.

Conference is always an important time for PORAC as we conduct our organization’s business; hopefully, everyone who attended found it useful. It’s also a great opportunity to network with your colleagues from around the state, enjoy unique training opportunities, discuss the past year and look forward to the future.

We had two great training sessions at Conference this year. The first, led by Deputy Chief Chris Hsiung of the Mountain View P.D., discussed the significance of social media and how our associations can utilize it as part of their communication strategy. In the modern era, when law enforcement must deal with a narrative crafted by the press, it is crucial that we maintain a narrative of our own and counter the mainstream media, which doesn’t always get it right.

The second course, led by Dr. Kimberly Miller, was all about officer wellness and mental health. It focused on the ways officers can cope with the job’s inherent stress and potential burnout, and Dr. Miller presented us with healthy coping strategies, possibilities for intervention and much more. In today’s climate, officer wellness is becoming a priority issue for law enforcement across the country. As officer suicides are outpacing line-of-duty deaths, it is vitally important that we focus on our mental wellbeing.  To help with that, this year PORAC launched its POWER Project class to address challenges to officer wellness, and we look forward to introducing even more wellness classes in the future with the help of our new training coordinator, Cathy Sharp. In addition, associations need to start adding wellness clauses in negotiated MOUs to drive home the importance of this issue.

I hope you found these courses as useful and important as I did, and that you learned things you will be able to incorporate into your own life and bring back to your individual associations to help your fellow peace officers. It is essential that we support each other as we deal with this mental health crisis.

As I spoke with a lot of delegates during Conference, I got a sense that it went very smoothly and was very low stress. Thank you all for your support of our bylaw revisions. I am looking forward to the expansion of the Retiree Medical Trust as a national program and the creation of the new Statewide Chapter. There’s a lot of good stuff on the horizon, and I couldn’t be prouder of the accomplishments to date.

We continue to have a strong voice in Sacramento and Washington, D.C., and we couldn’t do it without your support. Our team in Sacramento is led by Aaron Read and Associates, with Steptoe and Johnson handling our D.C. operations. The harder we work, the better the results we will see.

As 2019 winds down, it’s a good time to take stock of the past year and how we fared. It’s no secret that we’ve had a difficult year legislatively in California. Our top priorities in the state Capitol were SB 230 and AB 392, legislation that has recently been signed by the governor that will put a halt, hopefully, to the continued drive to criminalize officers for doing their jobs.

It’s important that we focus on our successes. Dim as it may seem sometimes, a new generation of officers are joining our ranks, and they will provide the next voice of support for our members into the future. I applaud them for stepping up and taking on the mantle of association leadership. I highly recommend they read Man in the Arena by Teddy Roosevelt. It always inspired me as I faced difficulties as an association leader.

With that being said, our work is never done. There is a lot of hard work on the horizon in 2020, particularly as the political season ramps up in advance of the next presidential election. I know you are hard at work protecting and serving your communities, but I hope you will be able to stay politically engaged during this crucial time.

During what is sure to be a politically charged and divisive year, we as law enforcement must be courageous enough to stand up and have our voices heard. Nobody is going to do it for us, and we need the support of all our members to help PORAC move issues forward.

Thank you again for all the support you’ve given PORAC this year. The holiday season is a wonderful time, and please be safe as the year winds down. Take care of yourself, take care of your colleagues and take care of your loved ones. I wish you all a very merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and a happy new year.

If you feel you are struggling, reach out to Copline at (800) 267-5463.  

President’s Message

Brian R. Marvel
PORAC President

November marks the anniversary of my election to my first term as PORAC’s president. I spent my first year in office examining and assessing the many processes by which PORAC functions — not only its day-to-day operations but also broader concepts like training, branding and communications strategy. I hope you saw the results of those efforts this year as we made positive transitions in several areas.

Most notably, I’ve made it a priority to expand PORAC’s messaging. I brought our communications team in house, and worked with public safety communications firm 911MEDIA — our trusted partner for the past 10 years — to review our magazine, website, social media platforms and how they all work together, developing an integrated strategy to make sure our content is pertinent to our members and supports our profession as a whole. One of the additions during my tenure is the On the Job With PORAC podcast, which launched in May 2018 with the goal of providing timely information on hot topics. As it evolves, the podcast will explore additional areas of interest to our members. One of the future series I’m excited about is “Life After the Badge,” where we talk to former peace officers who have gone on to some very unique second jobs after retiring from law enforcement. We’re also interviewing actors about what it’s like to portray our profession on TV. We were pleased to partner with 911MEDIA and American Police Beat at their studio in Los Angeles to record audio and video interviews with Erik Estrada of CHiPs, Odie Gallop of S.W.A.T. and Joe Mantegna of Criminal Minds. Learn more about those conversations on page 8 of this issue.

In addition, we have taken great strides in revamping our training program, now called the PORAC Institute. Among the changes is an increased focus on officer wellness, a vitally important issue that we take very seriously as association leaders. I am happy that PORAC successfully obtained a grant from POST to offer Peace Officer Wellness, Ethics and Resilience (POWER) classes free of charge to our members and other active law enforcement officers in the state. As we continue to re-evaluate all the classes we offer with fresh eyes to ensure they are as relevant and useful to our members as possible, we are also looking to collaborate with other groups offering high-quality training that meets PORAC standards on both law enforcement and labor issues.

I want to express my gratitude to all of you for your membership, participation and support as we continue to innovate and take PORAC to the next level of excellence. My thanks to the Board of Directors, Executive Committee members and especially all the chapter presidents who are working hard on the front lines throughout the state. They have their finger on the pulse of PORAC, and without their backing, guidance and recommendations, we in Sacramento wouldn’t be as effective as we are in achieving PORAC’s goals at the state and national levels. As I approach my bid for re-election unopposed, I thank you for your continued confidence in my leadership. I look forward to all the great achievements that lie ahead for us.

I owe so much to the hard work and talents of the PORAC staff, as does this organization as a whole. Our staff members, led by Kim Busman, will be attending the Conference of Members this month, and I encourage you to get to know them. They work for you, and they want to put faces to familiar names just as you do. So if you see them, please say hello, thank them for their efforts and take the opportunity to discuss any questions or concerns you may have.

As Conference approaches, we’re excited for you to see what we have in store. Our objective is to continually enhance the content and quality of this event year after year. One of my personal goals as president is to grow Conference attendance to more than 1,000 members. While we won’t reach that level this year, in 2018 we set the record for the largest attendance in PORAC’s history, so we’re well on our way. As we continue to make Conference a destination for quality training and networking, not just a place to conduct organizational business, it will happen. With everything going on in our profession right now, Conference is a great occasion for us to come together as associations from throughout the state to review our victories and losses over the past year, have candid discussions about how we can improve our profession, and pat ourselves and one another on the back for all we’ve accomplished. That includes not only our legislative advocacy at the state and federal levels but also our achievements locally and individually — we have association presidents who are doing fantastic work for their members on contracts and protecting due process rights.

I look forward to seeing everyone in Palm Springs, and I wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends.

President’s Message

Brian Marvel
PORAC President

After well over a year of advocacy, legislative drafting, research and extensive collaboration with law enforcement supporters and with those across the aisle, SB 230 was finally signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom on September 12. California can now proudly proclaim that it has the most robust use-of-force training programs in the nation. This landmark bill will require consistent policies and training from every agency in the state, so the training I receive in San Diego will be consistent with the training in Crescent City. As a profession that continuously strives to improve, this is a natural progression in that evolution.

Vice President Damon Kurtz, Treasurer Tim Davis and I, along with legislators and representatives from other PORAC and law enforcement groups, were honored to attend the private bill-signing ceremony in the governor’s office. I was given the opportunity to deliver remarks alongside our partners from the California Association of Highway Patrolmen and California Police Chiefs Association and bill author Senator Anna Caballero, who worked closely with the law enforcement coalition to shape SB 230 into what it is today.

When I took the podium, I said that this bill will have a great impact on minimizing use-of-force incidents in California because it will ensure that our officers will be given something they’ve been demanding for years — more funding for more updated training that will help reduce the occurrence of these incidents. SB 230 will allocate up to $450,000 for the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) to strengthen training guidelines, and it will provide more than $10 million for officers to attend POST training. Furthermore, the bill will establish specific policy requirements across all law enforcement departments on de-escalation, rendering medical aid and more. (For more details, see the Capitol Beat article on page 22.)

In a statement, the governor said that “it is critical to ensure [peace officers] have the appropriate training [and funding] that aligns with our new use-of-force law.” As you may know, SB 230 was revised to complement AB 392, which was signed into law in August. I want to be very clear, and contrary to what your beat partner has told you, we successfully prevented AB 392 from implementing language that would have significantly impacted the way you perform your daily job. Together, SB 230 and AB 392 create a legislative package that not only strengthens the public safety profession and protects our communities, but also safeguards the men and women in uniform who put their lives at risk every day to keep us safe.

Throughout this saga of amending our state’s use-of-force standards, PORAC worked tirelessly with Senator Caballero and others to make sure the bill would work to keep our members safe and not make it more difficult for them to do an already difficult job. This was important to us because, as Damon writes, we exist to serve you, our members, and that means representing your issues and concerns at the local, state and national levels. In fact, that’s one of the main reasons why a majority of associations in California choose to join PORAC — they know that along with unparalleled benefits, they will be fiercely represented and advocated for.

As the header bar on the front page of the PORAC Law Enforcement News states, you have unparalleled networking opportunities, allowing you to connect with your peers, mentors and other law enforcement leaders. Strength in numbers; our advocacy program is second to none. We have members who live in every district in the state — no other association can say the same. This allows us greater access and as we continue to improve our legislative efforts, we can hold meetings in the districts as well as the Capitol. The more successful PORAC is, the greater our professional image is as a representative of law enforcement, not only in California but nationally. This helps all of us to be more successful. Providing ongoing educational training for members is a major part of PORAC’s philosophy. The courses are designed to enable our members to be more effective within their organizations. As we continue to revamp our training program, we have rebranded it to the PORAC Institute. I will have more information in the coming months. Lastly, our benefits, whether it is Legal Defense, Insurance and Benefits or Retiree Medical, provide consistent value and superb service, which is necessary to the success of PORAC.

To fully receive the benefits of membership, you need to be engaged with your association and your chapter. With any membership, however, you get what you put into it. Get involved, collaborate and grow the benefits that PORAC has to offer, which in turn improves our profession we all love.

President’s Message

Brian Marvel
PORAC President

In a few short months, state, county and municipal pension systems will be releasing their comprehensive annual financial reports (CAFRs). These are extremely important documents that pension systems must compile to comply with the accounting requirements set forth by the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB). CAFRs are important because they give you a snapshot in time of how your pension system is doing, providing the financial and statistical data to let you know whether your system is meeting its stated goals and offering a valuable insight into how city, state or county officials manage public finances.

The reason I’m bringing this up is because of a recent Forbes story about the City of Chicago’s latest CAFR and what it reveals about their pension funds. If you haven’t been watching what’s happening in Chicago, you should be, because it’s a perfect example of what not to do when it comes to funding public employee pensions. Chicago’s combined pensions have declined from 27% funded at the end of 2017 to only 23% funded now. That’s not a pretty picture. While the assets have suffered some losses in market value, Forbes reports that “by far the largest contributor to the plans’ worsening funded status is that the city is not contributing even the minimal amount necessary to ‘tread water.’” For years, Chicago has failed to make the annual actuarially determined contribution (ADC) that represents the amount needed to fund benefits over time, shorting three of its four pension funds (the police fund’s report has not yet been released, although it will no doubt show the same pattern) by about $800 million less than the bare minimum it should have provided.

In today’s reality, with all the pressures from so-called pension reform (which actually means elimination), how any union can allow its state, county or municipality not to make its full ADC is beyond me. I know there’s a debate about whether pensions should be funded at 100% or 80%. I realize I will probably receive pushback from some folks, but having worked in a city that claimed it was on the verge of bankruptcy and blamed the pension underfunding, and in addition having talked to people who worked in cities that did declare bankruptcy, I believe pensions should be 100% funded. Pensioners in Detroit saw up to a 30% reduction in their pension payments, which a federal appeals court approved because of the city’s declared bankruptcy. That is quite a hit and could dramatically change someone’s lifestyle, especially at a point in life when going back to work is difficult.

Each of us is individually vested in our pension, and each of us has a responsibility to make sure that the fund is doing what it’s supposed to, even retirees. As public safety union leaders, we need to ensure that our counties and municipalities are paying their full ADC. I recognize that pensions are long-term investments, so if your system is in the 70–80% funded range, it’s not as great a concern, but we must always be vigilant and hold our cities and counties accountable for making these payments. Don’t buy into their three-card Monte when they claim they need to take away from the pension system to build a new stadium or something similar. Your pension should be the number-one thing that is paid by your city or county! This happened in my city; we went 10 years without a pay raise, lost retiree health care and saw reduced benefits for new hires — and we were at 63% funding.

I know CAFRs aren’t fun to read, but there’s a lot of good information in there. Look at things like the funding level; smoothing periods (which allow funds to base their pension liability on the average over a longer period of time), the shorter the better; and the discount rate (the anticipated long-term rate of return on the system’s investments). For a while, we saw CalPERS trustees divesting from certain stocks for social reasons versus maximizing returns, although not so much anymore; however, our elected leaders in Sacramento continue to force CalPERS via the legislative process. When pension systems are over 100% funded, maybe that’s something they can do, but until that point, their goal at a minimum should be to meet their discount rate, strive for 100% funding and maximize investment returns.

Recently, CalPERS stated it did not make its discount rate of 7%, so employers will have to contribute more money to the system, which means less pay and benefits for employees. Overall, in the last 30 years, CalPERS has been exceeding its discount rate and that is good news.

I can tell you from personal experience that we all need to pay attention to what’s happening with our pension systems, read and understand the data, and stay vigilant to protect and preserve the benefits we’ve worked so hard to earn. If you don’t, the likes of Arnold, DeMaio and Reed will surely be watching them, and they are more than happy to take them away!