President’s Message

BRIAN R. MARVEL

PORAC President

September 10, 2021, marked the end of the first year of a two-year state legislative session. Needless to say, we were in the breach again. Police reform and public safety issues were a key focus among legislators, who introduced over 44 bills proposing new public safety and law enforcement policies.

Throughout the legislative process, PORAC knows how important it is that we have a seat at the table, and we do everything we can to ensure our voice is heard. We are pleased to report that we had a successful session, working with many of our state leaders and lawmakers to advance sound, effective policies, implement amendments or otherwise recommend that particularly problematic legislation be held back to allow more time for adequate research and vetting.

Our highest-priority bill this year was Senate Bill 2 (Bradford), which will establish a state licensure program for the review of sustained findings of serious misconduct for the purpose of determining whether an officer’s license to practice law enforcement should be suspended or revoked. For the past few years, PORAC has been working to establish a fair and unbiased licensing program that law enforcement could support and, since the start of this session, we have known that a licensing bill was going to pass. From all the updates, fact sheets, articles, activation emails and more that you’ve seen from us this year, you likely know how involved we were on SB 2. PORAC has been working with the author as best we could, along with the bill sponsors, legislators, Governor’s Office and Senate President Pro Tem’s office, to secure necessary amendments to SB 2 since the bill was first introduced as SB 731 last year. Thanks to the work of PORAC’s advocacy team, the bill is a far cry from where it was when we started negotiating, and we feel strongly that PORAC’s primary concerns have been addressed. In fact, the bill is poised to provide California with arguably the highest threshold in the nation for revocation. While we successfully secured all our priority amendments, flaws in SB 2’s approach to establishing an officer licensing program remain. We should be able to clean up these areas of concern as needed, either administratively with POST or through additional legislation next session. However, I want to reiterate that SB 2 is still a flawed bill.

There were several other bills that, when first introduced, presented some very serious concerns for PORAC in terms of how they would impact rank-and-file officers. Working with lawmakers throughout this legislative session, we were pleased with the changes our advocacy team was able to secure that allowed us to move off our active oppose position and go neutral on many of these higher-priority bills. These include, but are not limited to: AB 26 (Holden) and AB 48 (Gonzalez), which look at use-of-force policies; AB 89 (Jones-Sawyer), which addresses minimum qualifications for peace officer recruits; and SB 16 (Skinner) on the release of peace officer records. Additionally, several troublesome bills were responsibly held back as two-year bills at PORAC’s request, allowing us more time to collaboratively work with our lawmakers to ensure only effective and meaningful policies are put forward — ones that all Californians can support, including law enforcement.

Unfortunately, with so much of our work on defense in recent years, necessarily responding to the litany of legislation that comes our way, police unions, associations and other law enforcement advocates often get a bad rap that all we do is kill bills. Nothing could be further from the truth. And while a handful of reporters are always going to focus on controversy and try to frame the narrative as an us-versus-them issue, know that PORAC has developed a stellar reputation with lawmakers in both Sacramento and Washington, D.C. That is precisely because we don’t sit idly by — we engage. For years, we have been proactively proposing solutions that we know from our 68 years of experience will be effective while also working to find common ground with those we disagree with. PORAC exists to serve you, our members. It is our goal to protect your rights, pay and benefits, and to advocate for the resources and policies you need to carry out your duties safely and effectively. And while it can be hard to see PORAC working with people and organizations that are highly vocal in their criticism of law enforcement, our goal is best served when PORAC is willing to listen, collaborate and work out our differences through the democratic process. PORAC is about creating good policy, not about creating headlines.

With a successful legislative session in tow, I would like to acknowledge the incredible work done by our advocacy partners. I’ve said it before, and I will say it again: I do not believe there are any other advocates in California equal to our lobbying team, Aaron Read & Associates (ARA). Randy Perry, Aaron Read and Michele Fuller of ARA worked around the clock this year to ensure the voice of the law enforcement community was heard and spoke up on tough issues for our members. We would not have had the successful session we did without their hard work, and for that, a special thank-you. I also want to thank our Board of Directors, chapter presidents and you, our members, for your help and support this year as we fought some of our hardest legislative battles yet. Lastly, I want to thank the PORAC communications team, along with our partners at Fiona Hutton and Associates (FHA), consisting of Kendal Klingler, Ian Anderson, Sierra Layton and Jon Koriel, who worked at all hours to assist in crafting messages, talking points and information handouts to keep everyone informed. I understand the importance of communicating with the membership. We have an awesome team.

Ours is the most legislated profession in California, by far, and we don’t see that changing anytime soon. Between our advocacy, legal and communications teams, with partnership and direction from PORAC’s leadership, we are confident that we can handle whatever comes our way as we continue to fight for you. When the next part of the legislative session rolls around in December, PORAC will be where we always have been — in your corner, ready to go.

President’s Message

BRIAN R. MARVEL

PORAC President

20th Anniversary of 9/11

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

 

PORAC Advocates for Members at the Federal Level

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Celebrating Labor Day

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

 

Grand Opening of PORAC’s New Headquarters

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

President’s Message

BRIAN R. MARVEL

PORAC President

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.