President’s Message

BRIAN R. MARVEL

PORAC President

 

Legislative Priorities Updates

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

 

Senate Bill 2

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

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

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

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

 

Assembly Bill 89

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

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

 

PORAC Trusts: LDF, RMT and IBT

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

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

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

 

PORAC Branding Campaign

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

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

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

Happy Independence Day!

President’s Message

Brian R. Marvel

PORAC President

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

POREF Receives Accreditation by National Charity Assessor Organizations

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Message From Congressman Richard Neal

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

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

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

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

PORAC’s Election Manual Approved

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

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

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

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

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

President’s Message

Brian R. Marvel

PORAC President

This month is an important but somber time for our law enforcement community as we recognize National Police Week (May 9–15) and National Peace Officers Memorial Day (May 15), paying special recognition to those law enforcement officers who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty for the safety and protection of others.

This year alone, our national law enforcement community has lost 103 officers in the line of duty (these numbers include COVID-related deaths), per the Officer Down Memorial Page. In 2020, we lost 360 officers and the year before, 150. As frontline workers and first responders, COVID-19 has also taken the lives of many of our co-workers in the law enforcement community since the onset of the pandemic, with at least 287 reports of COVID-related officer deaths — making 2020 one of the deadliest years on record for law enforcement. During National Police Week, we celebrate the lives of our fallen officers and honor their service and sacrifice to their community and country. It is also a time to reflect on how to keep our officers safe as they carry out their duties.

The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF), an organization dedicated to telling the story of American law enforcement and making it safer for those who serve, has been tracking officer fatalities for decades and working to improve the health and safety of officers. NLEOMF has recorded 1,627 line-of-duty deaths in the past decade — with the top three leading causes of death being firearms-related fatalities, job-related illnesses and automobile crashes. As we honor our fallen heroes, it is important we take every step we can to make our inherently dangerous profession as safe as it possibly can be. With that said, wearing your seatbelt is a simple step you can take to increase your chances of surviving an accident and reducing the number of line-of-duty deaths.

Every day, California’s officers put themselves in harm’s way to protect and serve our communities — that is the oath we’ve sworn to uphold. But we should still do everything we can to protect ourselves and our fellow officers by conducting ourselves in the safest possible manner. I know it has been said a thousand times before, but please wait for backup and do not face dangerous situations alone unless it’s an absolute necessity, like an active shooter or saving a fellow officer. Even seemingly simple practices, such as always wearing
a vest or watching your speed, can be some of the most effective ways to save the lives of both officers and the public.

PORAC, Commission on Peace Officers Standards and Training (POST), U.S. DOJ, along with NLEOMF and other organizations nationwide, are working to offer programs and resources that effectively improve overall officer wellness and reduce line-of-duty injuries or deaths — like NLEOMF’s Destination Zero, POST’s Officer Wellness training program, U.S. DOJ’s Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act (LEMHWA) Program and other various initiatives local departments in California and around the country are spearheading. The law enforcement profession faces new challenges and hardships every day, which is why PORAC continues to advocate at the state and federal levels for more resources, training and new programs to create increased educational opportunities for officers.

PORAC values our members’ health and safety. It is extremely heartbreaking each and every time I see an officer who has lost their life in the service of others, and I know you feel the same way. That is why it is so important to take time this month to truly observe National Police Week and National Peace Officers Memorial Day to reflect on those we have lost, and to commit to the actions we can each take as individuals to improve safety on the job. PORAC honors these officers and sends our most sincere gratitude and condolences to their families, not only this month as we recognize law enforcement for their service, but every day as we advocate for the protections and rights of the men and women in law enforcement. We must never forget their sacrifice.

As I write this article, America has administered more than 200 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine. With the increased vaccine distributions we have seen recently, we hope that 2021 will be a better year for our nation and our officers, and we look forward to returning to a pre-COVID normal where we can finally meet, grieve, have discussions and learn from each other in person.

For our members, if you or someone you know has been impacted by a line-of-duty death or near-fatal injury, PORAC’s Fund a Hero in-house fundraising platform is here to help provide financial relief to officers and their families. Fund a Hero assists members in setting up fundraising campaigns that will ensure nearly every cent contributed by donors goes directly to the intended recipient. Fund a Hero allows our members to rest easy knowing that your campaigns, donations and payouts are not being overseen by a faceless non-law-enforcement entity, but by real people at PORAC Headquarters who care about our members. You can learn more about Fund a Hero and register your campaign at PORAC.org/about-fund-a-hero.

Lastly, due to the ongoing restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as increased security measures in Washington, D.C., NLEOMF will be hosting virtual events during National Police Week from May 9–15, including a Virtual Candlelight Vigil on May 13. We hope our members can join PORAC in honoring fallen officers during this virtual event. In addition, NLEOMF will be hosting in-person events from October 13–17 in Washington, D.C. You can learn more about the virtual and in-person events on NLEOMF’s website at nleomf.org/programs-events/national-police-week. Unfortunately, the California Peace Officers’ Memorial Foundation’s usual ceremonies held in Sacramento have been canceled this year. As always, we thank you for your service and commemorate those who have paid the ultimate price.

President’s Message

BRIAN R. MARVEL

PORAC President

As our nation works together to bridge the divide between America’s communities and the men and women of law enforcement, PORAC is committed to leading the way forward. We recognize that political differences are a substantial barrier and some organizations are reluctant to engage in those discussions, but we believe our country can overcome its deep political divisions. We are willing to have those difficult conversations, because PORAC is about crafting good policy, not about making headlines. PORAC is the preeminent voice for California law enforcement and the largest statewide law enforcement association in the nation. We have a responsibility to use our voice to help change the narrative around policing in America, and to communicate the incredible value of a PORAC membership for California’s peace officers, active or retired.

That is why we cannot understate the value of PORAC’s branding and communications efforts — the power of our voice is directly tied to the visibility and credibility of our organization. Raising awareness of PORAC’s brand and reputation puts us in a stronger position to more effectively advocate for our members, recruit new members and grow this association to increase our influence at the state and national levels.

The law enforcement profession is facing new challenges. We have seen attitudes, tones and aggressions change toward law enforcement. Disrespect toward peace officers has become a cultural norm nationwide — making a difficult and complicated job even more complex. By increasing PORAC’s name recognition through sponsorships, ads, op-eds, podcasts, media interviews and more, we can help to facilitate a cultural shift in the way law enforcement is viewed by members of the public. Not only does this place California’s officers in a better position to serve our communities, but it also signals to elected officials, decision makers, community activist groups and others that PORAC must have a seat at the table when it comes time to negotiate the new laws and policies that can have a significant impact on our members’ ability to carry out their duties safely and effectively.

Our stated goal for 2021 is to consistently seek new and innovative opportunities to promote our brand and what we stand for in front of the widest possible audience. That is why PORAC is pleased to be partnering with Mike Harmon Racing as the primary sponsor of the #47 Chevrolet Camaro driven by Kyle Weatherman. The PORAC Camaro, decked out as a police car, is being showcased in two races, one last month and one in September at the Alsco Uniforms 302 in Las Vegas. By capitalizing on last year’s show of support for law enforcement professionals at the Homestead-Miami Speedway with this new partnership, we can build greater support for law enforcement and shine a light on the work PORAC is doing to advance the interests of the profession, not only in California but nationally.

Another objective of PORAC’s communications and branding efforts is to ensure that current and prospective members are aware of the value of a PORAC membership and the benefits that come with it. PORAC members have access to a suite of benefits, ranging from legal assistance to insurance to our Fund a Hero (FAH) program, which helps to raise money for the families of those who have paid the ultimate price for their service, and our Hazardous Exposure Listing Program (HELP), which enables you to protect your own health. These are benefits California’s officers will not find anywhere else and should be taking full advantage of.

Generating awareness and promoting the value of PORAC through innovative branding and communications initiatives, like our participation in NASCAR’s Xfinity Series, increases our ability to bring new members into the fold and go to bat for our members when it is needed most. The larger and more representative of California’s peace officers PORAC is, the louder our voice becomes. One of the best ways to magnify that voice is with supporters of law enforcement outside of our family and friends — those individuals willing to speak up on our behalf.

As we seek to increase PORAC’s footprint both within California and nationally, we are also working to revamp our website. Our website is the face of our organization, and we want to ensure that anyone who visits it receives a clear picture of who PORAC is and what we stand for. We are also making major shifts to increase our ability to foster two-way communication within each of our unique PORAC chapters. The chapter landing pages will be housed on the improved PORAC website. Each chapter will have its own distinctive logo and be representative of the uniqueness that it brings to PORAC. The more we hear from you, the better informed we are about what matters the most, which in turn makes us more prepared to advocate and represent the interests of our profession.

All our efforts at PORAC are for our members, and our branding and communications program is no exception. We work with some of the best and brightest in the field to showcase PORAC as a forward-looking leader in law enforcement, and we must continue to proactively communicate the value PORAC brings to California peace officers and communities. If we do not tell our story, someone else will tell it for us. As always, thank you for your support and your dedication to the mission and values of our profession.

President’s Message

BRIAN R. MARVEL

PORAC President

Staying Connected With Members

One of my highest priorities as the president of PORAC is the membership and meeting your needs. As so, I am always looking for new and better ways to connect with members, share resources and ensure an open line of communication. That is why PORAC is working to update, reorganize and improve our website to make it easier and simpler for members to access the information and resources you need and to increase opportunities for you to communicate directly with PORAC chapter and senior leadership. With that in mind, we are creating individual chapter landing pages. This will bring all the chapters under the PORAC umbrella website, allow for the individuality each chapter represents throughout the state, share photos, send messages, request materials and more.

We value and encourage our members’ input and are always looking to keep you in the loop on the latest and greatest that PORAC has to offer. We look forward to using the updated website as an improved resource, something we feel will become increasingly important as virtual communication has become the primary mode of communication during the pandemic, and we fully expect that trend to continue.

PORAC Member Benefits

PORAC membership is incredibly valuable, and as an organization, we are committed to sharing with you all the information you may need to take full advantage of the many benefits, programs and services that come with your PORAC membership. We are currently working to create new educational materials and are talking with your chapter leaders about the PORAC services they feel are the most useful and how we can better provide you with opportunities to participate. As we develop these new materials and collect input from your chapter leaders, I want to take a moment to highlight a few of our most important programs and encourage you to learn more about how you can benefit from them.

One of our most valuable and successful programs, PORAC’s Legal Defense Fund (LDF), is the nation’s oldest, largest and most respected public safety legal plan. The LDF currently has reserves of more than $40 million, providing over 135,000 members with access to attorneys, experts and investigators when needed. We know there are times in this job that require legal assistance, and we want to make sure our members are always protected. The LDF includes cost-covering programs for court costs, expert witnesses and other expenses that could make or break a case, along with 24/7 emergency legal response services following a critical incident. Whether the case costs $100,000 or $1,000,000 to defend, we keep our long-standing promise of never skimping when our members’ lives and careers are on the line. Quite honestly, PORAC’s LDF is the platinum program of the United States.

We also know a career in law enforcement is a dangerous job, and we want to ensure our members and your families are always covered and prepared for unexpected accidents or illnesses, medical expenses and home or auto incidents. The Insurance and Benefits Trust (IBT) aims to provide the best comprehensive insurance products at a reasonable price while providing support to our members in understanding how these products can best protect you and advocate for members in cases when you need assistance with any type of insurance issue or question. In addition, IBT’s health insurance plan is one of, if not the best in the state. I would highly recommend trying to utilize or get access to it.

In addition to supporting our members while they are still on the job, a PORAC membership provides lifelong benefits. The PORAC Retiree Medical Trust (RMT) is a financial tool that allows current members to save money tax-free today, accrue interest tax-free and cover medical expenses in retirement tax-free. Planning for your future should always be on the top of your mind, and PORAC wants to ensure our members are taking advantage of this program today to secure you and your family’s financial future in retirement. If your agency does not provide any retiree medical health plans, contact PORAC RMT right away. It is never too late to plan for tomorrow.

These are just a few of the benefits PORAC members have access to. You can learn more about these programs and more on the PORAC website at the top of the homepage or on the Membership Benefits Summary webpage.

Increasing PORAC’s National Presence Through New Partnerships

As PORAC continues to increase our footprint at the state and national level, we are pursuing new branding opportunities to highlight our organization’s leadership. We are excited to announce a new partnership with NASCAR Xfinity Series and Mike Harmon Racing driver Kyle Weatherman. We will be sponsoring Weatherman in two upcoming races, March 6 and September 25, with PORAC-designed and PORAC-branded decals for his car. This exposure will be a new and creative way to promote PORAC’s name and raise awareness about our organization on a national level. The March race will be on FS1, and the September race will be on NBCSN.

Weatherman, along with the entire Mike Harmon Racing team, has been outspoken supporters of the law enforcement community through the years and most recently, with several “Back the Blue” programs sponsored by additional law enforcement partnerships. We are working with the organizers of these races to get discounted tickets for our PORAC members and will keep you updated on this exciting partnership. We are looking forward to cheering Kyle on as he takes the checkered flag in the PORAC #47 race car.

Treasurer’s Message

Shawn Welch

PORAC Treasurer

Two months down for 2021. While writing this article, the stock market is hitting new heights, the governor is getting close to being recalled, the majority of the state is still in the purple tier of COVID restrictions and the second impeachment trial for former President Trump has concluded. And we all thought 2021 was going to be less exciting.

Regarding the current financials of PORAC, here are some positives for 2020. Due to COVID and the state lockdown, PORAC was able to save hundreds of thousands of dollars. Which is not great, but just the reality. PORAC was able to use some of this money to pay for a portion of the furniture for the new building. PORAC also was able to put $300,000 into our investments, which is projected to grow considerably in 2021 (please refer to your broker for investment advice). As Vice President Kurtz continues to actively bring more members to join PORAC, we will continue to grow financially.

The final financial state for 2020 will be concluded soon, and hopefully, I will be able to share with you the actual numbers. I will also be able to give you an unaudited first quarter for 2021. 

Now, let’s talk about savings and checking accounts. What should we do for a bank account? The short answer would be a checking and savings account. At the least, all associations should have a business or corporation checking account. These types of accounts usually have a lot more paperwork to sign and rules on how the finances are distributed. One important difference is a business checking account (should) require multiple signatures on all checks. An important reason for having a business account is that association money is not tied to the treasurer or other association members. Regarding savings, we all know that a savings account is going to make little to nothing in interest. But if you do not have any money in investments, it is a good place to start.

President’s Message

Brian R. Marvel
PORAC President

I never would have thought in a million years, or at least in my lifetime, that I would see the U.S. Capitol building breached by a mob of malcontents whose sole intent was to disrupt the process in the peaceful transition of power, something our country has done for over two centuries. Needless to say, it was very disconcerting and unfortunate to see the actions that were taken on January 6. Since then, I have heard a lot of comparisons between what happened at the Capitol and what happened in 2020, with the many protests that devolved into riots and people engaging in the destruction of private and government property. I do not view the two as similar, which I am sure some people will disagree with my view, but the reality is that the Capitol is sacred ground; it’s the seat of power for our nation. It is our temple that represents the foundation of our democracy, freedom and who we are as a people. The people who stormed the Capitol blatantly showed their disrespect for our country, its laws and its ideals.

They also disrespected those in law enforcement, who abide by the rule of law, the courts and the Constitution that we all swore an oath to uphold. These individuals assaulted, attacked and injured our brothers and sisters of the U.S. Capitol and Metro Police. Over 50 Capitol Police officers were injured in the riot, with 15 being transported to the hospital and, sadly, the death of Officer Brian Sicknick. In addition, an officer had to use lethal force and Capitol Police Officer Howard Liebengood took his own life the following day.

Investigations into the breach have begun. Hopefully soon, we will have a much better idea of how it all happened, who was involved and what the charges are going to be for those individuals who felt they could desecrate the Capitol. As part of this, PORAC has sent a letter to Senate and House leadership and the California delegation asking that there be a full accounting and investigation into why Capitol Police leadership were seemingly unprepared for such a breach and why the rank-and-file officers defending the Capitol were left so vulnerable to being attacked. Ultimately, with this investigation request, we ask that rank-and-file members, who specialize in riots and demonstration containment, be well represented on any forthcoming investigative commission or panel to ensure that there is a fair, impartial investigation into the events that unfolded. We will keep our members apprised of our efforts in this matter as more information becomes available.

 

HELP Is Available for PORAC Members

With the COVID-19 vaccine slowly being administered to frontline and essential workers nationwide, we are seeing a light at the end of the tunnel for this pandemic. But we have a long way to go, as ICU beds continue to fill up across our state and COVID-related deaths continue to rise.

More than 100 public safety officers have died in the line of duty from COVID. I know over the last couple of years we have reminded our members about our Hazardous Exposure Listing Program (HELP). Now, more than ever, this program should be utilized by every PORAC member to document all of their exposures and potential exposures to individuals who may have COVID. This free program was designed to protect your rights and benefits if anything happens to you on the job (e.g., exposure to hazardous substances and infectious diseases, etc.). HELP ensures you have a record outside of your employer’s system that you can rely on. For more information about this invaluable resource, visit PORAC.org and click on the HELP banner image.

 

Legislation at the State and Federal Levels

As we head into the new two-year legislative cycle at the federal and state levels, I want to update our members on some of the issues that will be a priority for us this year. On the federal side, with the change in the legislative makeup of the 117th Congress, we have a great opportunity to successfully see the repeal of the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and the Government Pension Offset (GPO). The bill to accomplish this, H.R. 4540, the Public Servants Protection and Fairness Act, unfortunately did not make it out of the 116th Congress. But I will say, in the last 12 years that I’ve been actively involved in legislation, it was the furthest I’ve ever seen a bill like that go. I think we have a good prospect for getting this measure passed in this new Congress. The other big bill we believe has a great chance of passing is S. 2552/H.R. 4527, the Expanding Health Care Options for Early Retirees Act, which would lower the Medicare eligibility age for public safety officers to 60. We hope that over these next two years, we can advance these bills and see them successfully across the goal line. It would be very advantageous for all our members to reap the benefits that these two bills would provide.

Unfortunately, due to COVID, the Executive Committee will be unable to do our annual D.C. fly-in to advocate for the new bills in person. We have modified our game plan and have virtual meetings with our California delegation and other congressional leaders. This will also give us a chance to have other association leaders attend and participate in these critical meetings. We will continue to collaborate with other law enforcement groups in California and across the nation so that we
present a unified voice, pushing in the same direction to see these bills succeed.

Locally, here in Sacramento, we are reviewing approximately 40 public safety bills. This is just the tip of the iceberg; during the last two-year session, we monitored 463 bills. As most people know, several notorious bills did not make it out of the Legislature last year, but without fail, they were immediately reintroduced on December 7. We will continue to actively oppose these bills. February will be an extremely busy month as we will be monitoring new bills that are introduced, conducting meetings and testimonies virtually and working with the newly appointed California attorney general on priorities for public safety issues.

President’s Message

Brian R. Marvel
PORAC President

I hope everyone had an opportunity to spend time with family during the holidays. Obviously, with COVID-19, this holiday season felt far from normal. As the world deals with the pandemic, many people have had loved ones pass away or suffer from COVID to varying degrees. Hopefully, the people close to you were safe and healthy during 2020, and any family and friends who contracted the virus made it through and are doing well.

I find the end of the year is an important time, even in our current situation, as I reflect on the past year’s accomplishments and failings, not only as the president of PORAC but also in my personal life. In addition, I look forward to the new year with the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead, and boy do we have them.

We are now dealing with the ramifications of the statewide elections. The Los Angeles District Attorney’s race did not go our way, and now the impacts of the new regime of George Gascón are beginning to be felt. Immediately following his swearing-in, Gascón issued a nine-page edict outlining changes to policies and procedures within the DA’s Office. Mind you, Gascón has never prosecuted a case and claims to have served over 30 years with the LAPD. His regime will no longer request cash bail, no longer seek the death penalty under any circumstances and no longer file enhancements irrespective of the type of crime and without exceptions.

One of the other items I would like to highlight is that if an officer has to defend themselves in a life-and-death incident and ultimately uses lethal force against a suspect, the DA’s Office will immediately provide support to the suspect’s family within 24 hours. Take, for example, a scenario where a suspect breaks into a house and beats, robs and kidnaps the homeowners; officers ultimately catch up with the suspect and engage with him, and then during the apprehension there is an officer-involved shooting and the suspect is killed. The L.A. District Attorney’s Office will treat the suspect as the victim and provide taxpayer-funded services to the suspect’s family to make sure that they are treated fairly, versus the true victims who have been traumatized by the suspect.

Needless to say, Gascón received a lot of backlash in his first week of office. Even the local mainstream media came after him, although the question is how long they will do so. If you get a chance, you should read his first edict and follow-up clarification edict, which explicitly states any enhancements or strikes shall be withdrawn and if not possible to dismiss the case. Gascón doubled down and essentially said, as NBC Los Angeles summarized it, “he’s confident a blanket order that bans sentencing enhancements is a necessary step toward justice reform, regardless of what crime victims and their families may want.” Usually, we are on the receiving end of a one-finger salute, but Gascón has decided to give it to the victims!

As I have said many times before, and will continue to say, the L.A. District Attorney’s race was vitally important for everybody in the state to be actively involved in. Unfortunately, Los Angeles County will have to suffer under Gascón’s regime for the time being. Moreover, the public defenders are in cahoots with the DA. They can electronically file a report that the deputy district attorneys are violating his edict — a double whammy for victims. Hopefully the “Recall Gascón” effort gets legs, and more victims are willing to stand up and fight back. Until then, if you live in, work in or visit L.A. County, please be safe. Gascón and his ilk look at you as criminals and not the guardians you are.

On top of that, we have tough times ahead of us with the current makeup of the California Legislature. I believe that we should always expect the best but prepare for the worst. There will be changes to our profession this year; how detrimental they will be is hard to predict at this point. We will have to intensify our grassroots effort and collaboration with all our law enforcement partners, and I will ask each of you to reach out to your local statewide elected officials to make sure they get the message that public safety is a priority, in not only funding but support. We need to make “defund the police” a toxic phrase for elected officials. I hate to start the first month of the new year on a dour note, but the truth is that the future looks bleak. Whatever comes, however, please know that PORAC will be here to support and advocate for you, our members, and all our law enforcement brethren, throughout 2021 and beyond.

Over the last year and now with our second statewide shutdown, a lot of pressure and stress has been placed on business owners throughout the state, especially small business owners, as they try to keep their workers employed and stay financially afloat while continuing to serve their customers. Now more than ever, we should all try to support the small businesses in our community, especially those that have stepped up to support us in our times of need over the years, when we have lost brothers and sisters in the line of duty. These difficult times present us with a great opportunity for law enforcement to give back by supporting our local business communities in return. They were there when we needed them; now they need us. Please shop local.

President’s Message

Brian R. Marvel
PORAC President

Although the 2020 elections are over, as I am writing this article, a lot of races are still too close to be called. However, several of the races PORAC was involved in have already been decided, and unfortunately, a few did not go our way. This includes the Los Angeles district attorney’s race, which saw San Francisco’s former chief of police and appointed district attorney George Gascón edge out Jackie Lacey in a hard-fought contest. As evidenced by his pro-criminal policies, soaring violent crime and property crime rates in San Francisco under his watch, there is no sugarcoating the fact that Gascón will be detrimental to law enforcement and all of Los Angeles County. When he gets sworn into office on December 7, he will usher in the golden age of criminality for L.A. County. One of the biggest reasons this race was so important for all LE in the state, Gascón is part of the Prosecutors Alliance of California, a faux public safety group acting as a wolf in sheep’s clothing that has a clear pro-criminal, anti-police agenda. While the group — which includes DAs Chesa Boudin (San Francisco), Diana Becton (Contra Costa County) and Tori Verber Salazar (San Joaquin) — claims to support public safety, they are really supporters of criminals and not so much for victims. This will only make our work at the Capitol even harder than it already is.

We were also actively involved in the Assembly District 59 race, supporting Efren Martinez in his effort against incumbent Assemblymember Reginald Jones-Sawyer. Although Martinez lost, we are all extremely proud of the tireless effort he put into his campaign. When it came to statewide measures, we were disappointed that Proposition 20 only netted 38% of the vote. This initiative would have made some minor fixes to the flaws in Proposition 47 and 57, along with making sure victims were given the same consideration that criminals receive. As the election results are certified, we will spend the next several months researching and analyzing why the electorate was so split. This autopsy will better position us for 2022.

While these losses sting, I am proud to say that PORAC still has a 90% success rate when it comes to our endorsements. More importantly, I am proud that, rather than pointing fingers and feeling sorry for ourselves, all of us at PORAC are already back with our noses to the grindstone to ensure our members are protected and our profession is the best it can be. As we wait to see what happens in the aftermath of the presidential election, PORAC stands with whoever prevails and takes the oath of office on January 20. We are eager to provide advice and information regarding police and public safety initiatives as we work together to improve our profession for the better.

We are not about making headlines or sensationalizing half-truths in order to twist the narrative to our advantage. As several cities continue to experiment with their communities, we can list real-world impacts for citizens with the defund-the-police rhetoric. Just look at Minneapolis, where their elected leaders continue to defund the police and conduct baseless social experiments on their citizenry while their police force dwindles and the community crumbles! Homicides are up 50%, and more than 500 people have been wounded by gunfire this year, the highest number in over a decade, according to The Washington Post. It has gotten so bad, the city council had to recently approve spending money to bring in outside police officers to help before Minneapolis completely falls apart. Appeasement is never a plan for success. Peter Moskos said it best, “Slogans and sociological theories don’t prevent violence. Policy and policing based on evidence and proven research-based strategies do.” One bit of good news is that a judge ruled in favor of citizens being able to sue the city to comply with the charter, as well as to stop any hiring freezes, and ensure proper training for the MPD is in place.

While November is always a big month for PORAC, COVID-19 restrictions forced us to cancel our 68th Annual Conference of Members and instead have a smaller Board of Directors meeting. I want to take a moment to offer my sincere gratitude to Tim Davis, who spent the past two years doing an incredible job as treasurer. Tim provided PORAC with a solid financial base and continued the high standard for all to follow. Please welcome our new treasurer, Shawn Welch of Contra Costa County DSA, who will take the seat starting January 1. I also want to thank Tony Sanders, Tony Bolanos, Tim Caughron and Brian Avera of the Executive Committee for their service and commitment to PORAC and the membership. I would like to introduce our newest Executive Committee members, Eric Schmidt (Region II, Fresno DSA), Grant Ward (Region IV, Sheriff’s Employees’ Benefit Association) and Edgar Hampton (Region IV, Anaheim POA), who you can read more about in this issue. In addition, PJ Webb (L.A. School PMA) has officially retired. He was the chair of the Specialized Police Association Coalition (SPAC) Committee. Over the last several years, he was an invaluable advisor to me on making sure our SPAC members were always included in our discussions on legislation, nationally and in our state. Congratulations! Thank you for all your assistance and dedication to our profession and organization.

Treasurer’s Message

Timothy Davis
PORAC Treasurer

December will be my last month as treasurer of PORAC. It has been an honor to serve PORAC as its treasurer for these last two years. I will continue to serve on the PORAC Board of Directors and will continue to be available to PORAC as a resource whenever I am needed. This year, there was no PORAC Conference due to COVID-19. As a result, my end-of-year Treasurer’s Report was sent electronically to the membership. I will run through some of the highlights from my report.

PORAC is in an excellent financial state. PORAC is a stable organization due to its good employees and its sound financial principles. Stable finances, a well-prepared budget and an efficient staff allow PORAC to achieve its mission and to have the resources it needs to fulfill its mission of serving California’s public safety officers.

PORAC has long had a tradition of ensuring that its finances are stable and that there are sufficient safeguards and oversights in place to prevent and detect misuse and fraud. Those safeguards continue to function and create an environment in which PORAC and its finances are stable. This stability allows the organization to focus on its core mission of serving law enforcement officers.

PORAC Bylaws require an audit to be conducted each year. PORAC contracts each year with an outside accounting firm to conduct an independent audit of PORAC and its financials. For the year 2020, PORAC contracted with Winkler & Forner CPA to review our 2019 finances. The audit conducted by Winkler & Forner encountered no problems and confirmed that PORAC was acting “in conformity with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America.”

PORAC investments are controlled by the PORAC Investment Policy, which was enacted by the PORAC Board of Directors. The policy calls for diversity in our investments and sets a ratio of 75% equities and 25% fixed incomes. This balanced approach has served PORAC well and is the hallmark of an intelligent investment strategy. Our investments are managed by Mark Sikorski from UBS Financial Services.  PORAC has had a long relationship with Sikorski and UBS, and they have done an outstanding job of managing PORAC’s investments. Sikorski and his team of account managers handle the day-to-day placement of our investments.

PORAC ended 2019 with our investments up 22.28% for the year. In February and March of 2020, the markets saw a significant decline as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. This was the fastest decline on record and was followed by the fastest recovery on record. PORAC stayed the course, and as a result, this year we have seen growth in our investments. As of the time of writing, our investments are up 7.52% on the year. PORAC has seven accounts with UBS Financial with a total balance of over $16.5 million. Five of the accounts are investment accounts and are invested in the market with the 75/25 ratio. The other two accounts are low-risk investment accounts. Our pension fund is invested in an ultra-short duration bond fund that currently pays 1.90% and has a value of over $7.1 million. While this account is earning a significantly lower rate than our other investments, this was at the direction of the Board of Directors to ensure security of the investment and instant access to funds. (All numbers in the paragraph above are as of close of business on November 11, 2020.)