President’s Message

Brian Marvel
PORAC President

Since the announcements of SB 230 and AB 392 in February, the debate between public safety groups and ACLU-led organizations has been renewed in the public eye, drawing varying opinions from politicians to the public alike. The media, in particular, has been a powerful voice in this debate for the way it, in its so-called “objective” reporting, has framed both pieces of legislation. We have been monitoring the news cycle’s coverage of our bill and the opposition’s bill, and based on what we’ve seen so far, the long-held bias against police officers is alive and well in the media.

Take, for example, the Sacramento Bee’s disparate coverage of the competing bills. In numerous articles, Assemblymember Shirley Weber’s AB 392 — a revived version of AB 931 that seeks to raise the legal standard for deadly use of force — is juxtaposed with mentions of officer-involved shootings, such as the 2018 Stephon Clark incident, statistics about the “high” number of law enforcement–related deaths in the state and successes other states, like Washington, have had with use-of-force restrictions. The paper continues to fan the flames of anti-police sentiment in some groups. They parrot the talking points of the mostly inaccurate ACLU statistics and never challenge the veracity of their claims. I know the Bee has some good reporters who are objective and focus on the facts, but the editorial board either lacks the backbone to challenge the ACLU or is completely in the bag with Weber.

Within those very same articles, SB 230 is written about almost like an afterthought. Senator Anna Caballero’s comprehensive use-of-force legislation, which focuses on creating statewide protocols and training, is treated as merely a law enforcement-backed response to Weber’s bill. Unlike with AB 392, hardly any data, any mentions of how officers’ uses of force have saved lives and any statistics about the dangers of the job or line-of-duty deaths accompany SB 230. We spent five months negotiating with Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkin’s staff, Weber’s staff and the ACLU to find an agreeable compromise. As you can see, it didn’t work out, but not for our lack of trying. While these negotiations were proceeding, we worked with use-of-force and legal experts, along with medical professionals, to craft a plan that addresses all their concerns.

What’s more, a month after reporting about both bills, the Bee’s editorial board published a scathing piece entitled, “Police won’t obey transparency law. Why trust them on deadly force reform?” It erroneously argued that law enforcement’s opposition to SB 1421 meant that law enforcement does not favor transparency and therefore cannot be trusted to implement use-of-force reform. The Bee showed readers how it really felt about police when it called SB 230 a “sham” and a “decoy bill designed to thwart real reform.” With this position, how can we expect them to objectively report about SB 230 and our plan?

Unfortunately, the Bee is just one of many media outlets skewing public opinion with its bias. Many outlets consciously or unconsciously show bias in their reporting, and it’s part of a disturbing trend that perpetuates and engenders anti-law-enforcement sentiment among the public. According to a Pew Research Center survey conducted by the National Police Research Platform in 2017, about eight in ten officers (81%) who work in departments with 100 or more sworn officers say the media generally treat police unfairly. About four in ten officers (42%) strongly agree that the media are unfair to police.

In addition to influencing how the public feels about police, the media’s treatment of the profession also negatively affects officers on the job. The survey stated officers who strongly agree that the media treat police unfairly have feelings of frustration at work, and nearly one in three (31%) say such treatment makes them feel angry.

The media has been preying on law enforcement for far too long, and we must push back against this unfair treatment. We must be vigilant about presenting the facts about SB 230 to our legislators and the public. We need to counter the media’s biased reporting with objective information about Senator Caballero’s bill, which sets a clear and enforceable standard for authorizing the use of force, standardizes use-of-force training and enacts precedent-setting, evidence-based policies to maximize sound judgment and minimize use of force in our state. Contrary to what the Bee is reporting, this bill is neither a sham nor decoy. SB 230 will require all of California’s 500 law enforcement agencies to adhere to the use-of-force standard set by the U.S. Supreme Court, establish the most comprehensive use-of-force policies and guidelines in the nation, undergo the best use-of-force training available while providing the resources necessary to accomplish that task and continue to uphold our commitment to protecting all Californians.

If you are reading this article, it is a call to action! We can be angry and frustrated with the media, but the best way to counter this is by getting involved. We need you to help us in Sacramento. I need you to write, phone or visit your local statewide elected officials and tell them the truth about SB 230 and why it’s so important for the future of law enforcement and the communities we serve. If our voice is not heard, the elected leaders will only hear from the opposition. We have made it easy for you to reach your representatives with our digital action alert. Simply visit www.porac.org/sb230 to send a prewritten letter stating that you support SB 230 and oppose AB 392. It only takes a few seconds to let your voice be heard!

The best way to tell the Bee to pound sand is to have SB 230 pass and AB 392 fail!

Together, we can work toward protecting California communities and setting a national standard for policing.

Be safe. 

President’s Message

Brian Marvel
PORAC President

As many of you may recall, last year was tough for law enforcement on the legislative front. Assembly Bill 931 — which sought to limit officers’ use of force and ultimately criminalize you for split-second decisions under tense and rapidly evolving incidents — led the pack of measures that were not friendly to peace officers and public safety. We fought tooth and nail to make sure that AB 931 would not be passed. The final two weeks of the previous legislative session were some of the toughest in my life, but we succeeded in making sure that bill never made it to the governor’s desk. As expected, the proponents of AB 931 are trying again this year, with AB 392.

PORAC, in collaboration with a law enforcement coalition, is putting forth a comprehensive legislative plan that will set a clear legal standard for use of force, ensure robust officer training, bring in professional mental health professionals and launch California to the national forefront in use-of-force policies and procedures, training and addressing mental health incidents — all while maintaining public and police safety.

I am pleased to say that a group of law enforcement advocates — which included PORAC, LAPPL, ALADS, CAHP, Sheriff’s, and Chiefs — has announced the sponsorship of Senate Bill 230. The legislation, authored by Senator Anna Caballero, incorporates smart approaches used by various agencies and is the result of six months of collaboration by law enforcement, mental health professionals, use-of-force experts and our Legal Defense Fund panel attorneys throughout the state.

“Our goal through SB 230 is to reduce the tragic loss of life in our communities through a policy that protects the public and our peace officers,” Senator Caballero said.

Our intent in sponsoring this legislation is to ensure our officers can continue protecting human life while building on the community trust so many of our agencies enjoy. Just as peace officers can’t anticipate what they will encounter on any given day, our laws governing their engagement must account for the vast, unpredictable threats they face. SB 230 does that.

This bill updates the fleeing felon language that was written in 1872. Needless to say, the statute does not reflect the use-of-force standards established by the U.S. Supreme Court in Graham v. Connor and Tennessee v. Garner.

Conversely, the opposition’s AB 392 seeks to mandate a hindsight analysis of whether any other lesser use of force could have been reasonably deployed. It fails to consider the fact that other options may pose greater risks of death or injury to the officer or others and that the alternatives may not be as effective. As a result, reasonably necessary use of deadly force in self-defense or in defense of others could be stripped of legal protections under the justification statutes. In essence, you would be criminally prosecuted for protecting yourself or someone else by their standard for every deadly force incident. This, in my opinion, is their goal!

In the 1989 case of Graham v. Connor, the Supreme Court set the legal standard governing use of force. It aptly stated there must be an “allowance for the fact that police officers are required to make split-second judgments — in circumstances that are tense, uncertain and rapidly evolving — about the amount of force that is necessary in a particular situation.” We should do everything in our power to make sure this stays the standard.

While updating the outdated statute language, SB 230 also includes minimum standardized use-of-force training and internal use-of-force guidelines while providing additional funding to POST. SB 230 addresses each of these issues with the goal of better protecting both individuals and law enforcement officers.

Training is a big component of our plan. Training makes situations safer. Officers and deputies gain confidence with continual, quality training. That confidence leads to a better sense of when to use force and when not to. This is a proven fact. Yet the opposition never pursues a comprehensive training proposal. Why is that?

You also never hear the opposition offering ideas on how to cut down our violent crime rates, how to get guns off of our streets or reduce gang violence. They offer no voice for the hundreds of murder victims in the state of California. With the vocal anti-police sentiment out there, one might think that the number of law enforcement-related deaths has increased. In fact, 2018 saw a 34% reduction from the year before. However, any death is one too many — thus, the need for SB 230.

To learn more about the law enforcement coalition and our plan, visit protectca.com.

As I have said repeatedly, and will continue to say, it is more important than ever that we unite and make our voices heard, individually and collectively. I call again for all 70,000 PORAC members to step forward, make that first move, send that email, make that phone call to your local elected officials and tell them why it’s crucial that they support SB 230. They are your representatives and we live in their community, too. So let them know it matters to you. It could be a matter of life and death.

Have your family, friends and public safety advocates call, too!

Be safe.

President’s Message

Brian Marvel
PORAC President

The members of the California Legislature were sworn in to kick off the new two-year session on December 3, and our statewide executive officers took office on or around January 7. PORAC was able to personally attend or send representatives to several of those swearing-in ceremonies. Vice President Damon Kurtz and I were present for the inauguration of Governor Gavin Newsom in Sacramento. Listening to the speeches by the leaders of California, I reflected on how difficult the atmosphere for public safety was in the Legislature last year and what that means for the road ahead.

Unfortunately, I anticipate that 2019 will be just as bad as 2018, or even worse when it comes to public safety. At the top of our list of concerns is the impending use-of-force legislation. Thankfully, Assembly Bill (AB) 931 did not make it out of the Rules Committee last year, but it will be revisited this year. PORAC is working very hard to ensure that we have a seat at the table and are part of the conversation to try to direct how any legislation on this topic will look. As I’m sure you are all aware by now, the advocates for AB 931 want to raise the standard for use of force above and beyond what was set by the Supreme Court in Graham v. Connor, from “reasonable” to “necessary.” In effect, this would create the expectation that you use all other means at your disposal before utilizing deadly force — even to the extent of getting in your vehicle and driving away! It must be said that I’ve yet to meet a law enforcement professional who wants to be involved in a shooting. However, I think it’s outrageous to give all of the legal advantage to the individuals who are trying to kill us when we are simply reacting to their escalation of violence. If the proponents of this dangerous measure were to achieve their goal, public safety would take a dramatic turn for the worse. Case in point: Chicago! I doubt those communities are happy with the daily carnage of murder and mayhem thanks to the ACLU.

Every member of our profession throughout the state needs to realize that they must become involved in this issue. I continue to urge all our members, family and friends to write or call your elected officials and let them know about your concerns. This proposed law would create a situation where any use of force could lead to an officer being criminally prosecuted, civilly sued or terminated from their job for trying to defend their lives or somebody else’s. All it would take is a use-of-force expert to say they would have handled it differently! No incident is ever the same, and for this reason, we will continue to fight this battle to preserve your safety and that of the public we’ve sworn to protect and serve. For additional information, please listen to my recently released podcast episode on this subject at PORAC.org/podcast.

As I write this, we’re mourning the news that three law enforcement officers were assassinated in the span of just five days across the U.S.: Shreveport Officer Chatéri Payne, who was shot outside her home while heading to work; Birmingham Sergeant Wytasha Carter, who was shot while investigating a vehicle burglary call; and right here in California, Davis Officer Natalie Corona, who was shot while responding to a traffic collision. In addition, we’ve seen two close calls where the officers survived only because a perpetrator’s weapon misfired — one in Sacramento in January and another in Illinois last year, from which the dash-cam footage was recently released. (Watch that video on the PORAC Facebook page if you haven’t already; it’s a sobering sight.)

These incidents show how rapidly events can evolve in our line of work, and how so much can go wrong in a split second. We’re already at a severe disadvantage in the face of such senseless acts of violence, and AB 931 would make the situation even worse. Those pushing this measure capitalize on the media’s perpetuation of the myth that deadly use of force by peace officers goes unpunished and is out of control — when the reality is, in a state of nearly 40 million people, of the millions of contacts that occurred between police and individuals last year, deadly force was involved in just 114 incidents. I think our profession is doing an incredible job. We will continually push for the necessary resources to make our profession safer, which in turn makes our communities safer. With that said, we’re pleased that the governor’s new budget gives POST an increase of $14.9 million from the General Fund, plus an additional $20 million for de-escalation and mental health crisis training. POST has been so underfunded for many years, it is nice to see the tide turning the other way.

Please, be safe out there and cover your partners. We extend our deepest condolences to all of the families, friends and colleagues of the officers we have lost in the line of duty. Their sacrifice will never be forgotten.

President’s Message

Brian Marvel
PORAC President

With the close of 2018 behind us, we welcome 2019 with a new set of goals and continued work on past projects. The Christmas holiday season gave us a chance to look back on our organization’s successes and the areas in which we need to strengthen. January is a good time to reset and look forward to the challenges ahead and we have quite a few.

Aside from fighting the continuing legislative bills that seek to attack the very work we do in protecting the public, I would like to focus on our training program. I firmly believe our associations and members should have more opportunities for training, to prepare ourselves for what we face every day as association leaders. PORAC offers five core training classes annually. Last year we added media training and brought back the line of duty death training. We are in the process of analyzing the feedback from both of those classes. It is my goal to add these two classes to our annual training curriculum.

As PORAC assesses our training program, I am looking at how effective our training is. Is it up to date? Timely? What other types of training should we be offering? With that in mind, I think it would be very beneficial for us to partner with the Force Science Institute. It was an important step to have Dr. Bill Lewinski speak about the science of shootings at the Conference of Members in November. The information is vital to us as we try to explain and have people understand use-of-force incidents. We are currently working with Force Science to begin holding two regularly scheduled trainings in California. We anticipate kicking these off in 2020. This partnership would allow Force Science to offer more classes in California, and PORAC members would save on travel costs by not having to fly out of state for the sessions. Keep an eye out for more details as we finalize this partnership and what it will look like.

On top of that, POST just launched their Innovations Grant Program. One of the categories for this grant program is officer wellness. In 2017, 140 officers committed suicide and some of the research regarding this subject says this is underreported. Yet less than 5% of departments have suicide-prevention programs. I know a lot of agencies are trying to address officer wellness, but it is incumbent upon associations to be the leaders and assist their agencies to implement these programs. The reality is we witness death and destruction daily and that takes a toll on us. I have directed our training manager, Claude Albers, to prepare a grant solicitation to kick this program off. If our proposal is accepted, I am hoping we can start the training in late 2019 or implement it as part of our 2020 curriculum.

In addition to looking at our program, I want to start branding PORAC’s training. We will be updating the logo and changing the name. I want to raise the bar and make our training even better. I am still working with Claude on creating a video-based training program. This would not only provide our members an opportunity to get training 24/7, but it also would entice them to attend our in-depth in-person training.

I know last year was very challenging for our profession. We lost several members of our family. All of them heroes serving their communities. We suffered major fires at the beginning and end of the year and had active-shooter incidents. The pace at which we’re doing things has increased. Demands on public safety have increased exponentially, yet the number of people wanting to join this distinguished profession has dropped off. A recent Washington Post article reported that nearly 66% of almost 400 police departments surveyed said their applicant pool had shrunk. We at PORAC will continue to fight to ensure the respect and dignity our members deserve. I want to welcome our new vice president, Damon Kurtz, Fresno POA, and treasurer, Timothy Davis, Sacramento POA, who officially took their seats January 1.

Best wishes for a safe and happy new year.

President’s Message

Brian Marvel
PORAC President

I want to start by thanking all the members who were able to join us for the 66th Annual Conference of Members in Reno. Conference is always a special time for PORAC. The gathering not only gives our members the opportunity to come together before the busy holiday season commences, but it also brings them up to speed on important organizational, trust and benefit updates so that they can confidently head into the new year knowing where PORAC stands and where it’s headed.

Unfortunately, our members arrived at this year’s Conference with heavy hearts because of a series of devastating events affecting law enforcement and communities throughout the state.

On November 8, Ventura County Sheriff’s Sergeant Ron Helus was killed trying to stop an active shooter at the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks. Helus, along with two CHP officers, entered the bar and immediately engaged with the shooter, who struck Helus multiple times. Helus died along with 12 others that night. His brave actions saved many lives, and he and the other responding officers are heroes. Sergeant Helus’ actions epitomize service above self, and tragedies like these are what makes our profession unique: we never know whether we’ll make it back home at the end of a shift. He will never be forgotten!

Hours after losing one of their own, deputies in Ventura were confronted with another tragedy. The Woolsey Fire erupted in Simi Valley on November 8 and began destroying parts of Los Angeles and Ventura counties. With no time to grieve, Ventura deputies and officers sprang into lifesaving mode, working alongside firefighters to protect life and property. At the same time, in Northern California’s Butte County, the destructive Camp Fire broke out, wiping out the town of Paradise and its surrounding area. This fire has become the nation’s deadliest in a century, killing over 80 people, and the most destructive in California’s history, scorching more than 150,000 acres and destroying nearly 19,000 structures.

With the loss of an officer and two fires burning across both ends of the state in the forefront of our minds, PORAC had to conduct business during Conference. I ask that you please keep Sergeant Helus’ family, colleagues and friends in your thoughts and prayers. It will be a difficult road to healing for Helus’ family, but rest assured that they’ll always have the unwavering support of the larger blue family. I ask that you also keep the first responders fighting these fires in your thoughts. We realize how incredibly devastating fires can be on our first responders and their communities, so PORAC has a created a charity fund to help those affected by the wildfires. Please visit cahpcu.org/wildfireReliefFund and consider making a donation today.

Before delving into highlights from the Conference, I want to recognize Vice President Brent Meyer for all his years of hard work and dedication to PORAC. I appreciate the tremendous work he has done during his past five years as vice president. He always stepped up when needed, valued and cared for our members and always made himself available to answer questions. During his tenure, he refined our recruitment and retention program and worked diligently to increase the size of PORAC. It was a great pleasure to be able to work alongside him to take PORAC to the next level. Thank you for your service, Brent, and all the best on your new endeavors!

I would like to welcome Damon Kurtz, past president of Fresno POA, as our new vice president. Damon was elected by acclamation since he had no opponent. I’m excited to start new projects and to continue to build on what Brent has done for PORAC. I think Damon and I will make an excellent team, and we will continue to be PORAC’s voice in the state and national Capitols and provide our members with top-notch training and benefits.

During Conference, we had one executive officer election for the position of treasurer. Longtime Treasurer Marcelo Blanco lost his reelection bid to Tim Davis of Sacramento POA. I would like to thank Marcelo for his incredible work as treasurer and chair of both the Fiscal Management and Budget Committees, positions he has held for nine years. He provided PORAC with a solid financial footing and was diligent in overseeing finances to ensure that we stayed well within our budget while also increasing our reserves to ensure that we would be able to fight any battle that came our way. Everyone owes Marcelo a debt gratitude for all he has done to help our organization thrive financially.

To that end, I want to welcome Tim as our new treasurer. I look forward to working with him and to continuing the tradition that Marcelo has set for PORAC and his stewardship of its finances. I know Tim will do an excellent job as our next treasurer.

With the new team of executive officers in place, I am hopeful that we will meet and exceed membership expectations and our organization’s vision for the future. We will work together to oversee PORAC’s branding, goals, mission and image and continue to vigorously protect and defend the benefits of all our members in public safety. I anticipate 2019 being as difficult, if not more so than 2018.

In closing, we’re thankful for our families and loved ones who support law enforcement. Each day of work could be our last, so their support means the world. Merry Christmas, happy Hanukkah, happy holidays and happy new year!

President’s Message

Brian Marvel
PORAC President

As the leaves take on their fall colors, it’s time for PORAC members to gather round at our 66th Annual Conference of Members set for November 15 – 18. It’s called a conference of members for a reason. The conference, like PORAC, exists for you. This is your prime time to let PORAC leadership know what you think about where the organization is headed and how it’s been conducting business. We are only as strong as you want us to be.

There’s a lot that has happened this year that you might want to weigh in on, and we would value your input. Let us hear what you think of AB 931, the shelved Assembly bill that will likely come back next session to limit officers’ use of force and which PORAC has adamantly opposed. Do you have opinions about the Janus decision, in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled this summer that public employees can’t be required to pay agency fees? Or what about Governor Brown’s recent signing of AB 748 and SB 1421, broadening public access to police body-camera recordings and your personnel records, respectively?

Whatever your thoughts, please share them with us. Remember, PORAC is here for you, and we cannot represent you if you don’t say anything. I encourage all members to attend this year’s Conference (see page 17 for more details). Not only will you be able to catch up with friends and associates, you also can find out more about what makes your PORAC membership so valuable, such as the Legal Defense Fund, Insurance and Benefits Trust, Retiree Medical Trust, along with our ever-increasing footprint in the social media realm. Be sure to download the PORAC app before you go so that you get all the Conference updates and a few surprises to increase participation at conference.

National Law Enforcement Museum

PORAC was very proud to be in attendance at the grand opening of the National Law Enforcement Museum in Washington, D.C., on October 11. PORAC has been a major sponsor and consistent supporter of the museum and the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF), and our support was recognized by our prominent position on the museum’s donor wall as a partner at the “Guardians of Justice” sponsorship level. (See related museum story on page 12.)

The 57,000-square-foot museum, with its collection of more than 21,000 artifacts, is the culmination of a nearly two-decades process. We must thank NLEOMF CEO Craig Floyd for endeavoring to persevere and seeing this day come to fruition. It all began when Congress authorized the museum in 2000, but the museum was built without any government funds. Instead, individuals, companies and organizations contributed to the establishment of this worthy museum in Judiciary Square, next to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial.

Besides learning about the history of American law enforcement, museumgoers can “walk in the shoes” of an officer by participating in a training simulation or assuming the role of a police dispatcher. It is hoped that exhibits like these bridge the gap between the public and police, and that people walk away from the museum with a better understanding of and appreciation for our officers, who day in and day out, without fail, protect our communities knowing on any given day, they may make the ultimate sacrifice.

Before the ceremony started, you could feel the excitement that this day had finally come. I remember being a rookie and hearing how a museum dedicated to our profession was in the works. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but I was honored to represent PORAC at this most auspicious event almost 20 years later. Outside of the excitement of the grand opening, Clint Eastwood made a surprise visit and kicked off the ceremony. I would gather everyone in attendance wished they could do what Dirty Harry did in his movies, but we all know the difference between reality and Hollywood.

Several more speakers addressed the attendees, including former President George W. Bush via a recorded video message. The keynote speech by retired Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey brought it all together on why this museum is so important to us, our profession and the community.

One of the most significant features of the museum is the Hall of Remembrance, which honors the 21,541 men and women who died in law enforcement service; most of their stories are unknown by those who visit. But those stories now will be told for all to hear; Never Forgotten.

I hope that each of you has the opportunity to visit this spectacular and much-needed museum soon. It does law enforcement proud. If you go to YouTube, type “National Law Enforcement Museum construction time-lapse,” you can see, in a little over a minute, the construction progress from May 2016 to October 2018 with high-quality webcam imagery. Also, C-SPAN recorded the grand opening ceremony if you would like to watch it.

See you at the Conference in Reno!

President’s Message

Brian Marvel
PORAC President

The close of August marked the end of the two-year legislative session in Sacramento. As I’m sure most of you are well aware, this session included an immense amount of public safety-related legislation. It takes a lot of work to review and analyze all of these legislative proposals, including the bills that pass one house and then are gutted and amended to something completely different. As the session wound down, PORAC’s main priorities were opposing AB 931 (Weber), SB 1421 (Skinner) and AB 748 (Ting). The good news is that we were able to get a few months of breathing room when the President Pro Tem of the Senate held AB 931. While I write this, the latter two bills are sitting on the governor’s desk awaiting his signature, and we are asking that he veto them both.

I’ve repeatedly pointed out that law enforcement was not consulted at any point during the creation of AB 931, a major omission considering that it calls for such a dramatic change in the state standard for officers’ use of lethal force. As soon as we read the first iteration of this measure, it was clear to us that its goal was to criminalize peace officers who are involved in use-of-force incidents. By eliminating the standard set by the U.S. Supreme Court in Graham v. Connor that use of force should be based on what a reasonable officer would do under similar circumstances, and instead requiring it to be judged by the subjective measure of what is “necessary,” we believed that the bill placed an unfair burden on law enforcement that would compel officers to second-guess their actions and be judged on the basis of 20/20 hindsight.

With the help of our legislative advocates at Aaron Read & Associations and our Legal Defense attorneys, PORAC sprang into action. We analyzed the bill, discussed our concerns with the legislators in Sacramento and made some recommendations. We worked closely with our law enforcement coalition members — including the Los Angeles Police Protective League, the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs, the California Association of Highway Patrolmen, the California Police Chiefs Association, the California State Sheriffs’ Association and the California District Attorneys Association — to avert its disastrous effects. With only two weeks left in the session, the coalition submitted additional amendments. Unfortunately, Assembly Member Weber presented her own changes directly to the media, making sure we didn’t have a chance to see them until after the news cycle so our comments wouldn’t be heard. Our amendments were turned down in the last week of the legislative session, so the only option left to us was to try to kill the bill. After extensive meetings with several elected officials, discussions with Senate Pro Tem and a targeted media campaign, we learned two days before the end of the session that she planned to hold AB 931 in the Rules Committee, asking all parties involved to commit to sitting down together to work on realistic ways to reduce officer-involved shootings.

From PORAC’s perspective, this is by and large a good result, since we were never allowed a seat at the table for a serious discussion on what commonsense changes to use-of-force guidelines might look like. We’re very thankful the Pro Tem held the bill pending further discussions, knowing full well that she would take a tremendous amount of heat from some of the community groups that have been very vocal against law enforcement. While it’s unlikely that we’ve seen the last gasp of this dangerous measure, we look forward to working with the Pro Tem’s office, our law enforcement coalition and other groups to see how we can best move California’s use-of-force standard in a direction that continues to protect the safety of our communities and our peace officers.

Meanwhile, PORAC members should be fully aware that if the governor signs SB 1421, there will be some dramatic changes in the release of officer information. The records of peace or custodial officers who are involved in incidents of deadly force or great bodily injury, sexual assault or dishonesty will be disclosed in 60 days unless their agency or district attorney can provide a compelling reason not to, and that reason must continue to be provided in writing at 120-day intervals. You need to know that unless your agency puts a hold on it, all of your information will be released in that 60-day timeframe. If the law is passed, PORAC anticipates providing additional training on this significant change under the Peace Officer Bill of Rights (POBR).

Similarly, AB 748 states that agencies are required to release body-worn camera footage of critical incidents within 45 days starting on July 1, 2019; if that would interfere with an ongoing investigation, an agency can delay for 30 days. PORAC tried to stop both these bills from passing, up until the very last day of the session. But even after a critical flaw in AB 748 was identified on the Assembly floor, the Legislature pushed it through. We are currently working with the governor’s office and urging him to veto these bills. Whatever happens, rest assured that PORAC is on the job and committed to doing everything we can to create a secure environment for all of the communities we serve — while making sure that protecting the lives of the public does not mean devaluing the lives of peace officers.

Have a safe and happy Halloween, and I look forward to seeing everyone at Conference.

President’s Message

Brian Marvel
PORAC President

C.O.P.S. Grand Opening

Since 1984, C.O.P.S. has assisted surviving family members coping with the tragic loss of a loved one who died in the line of duty. Concerns of Police Survivors is a national organization that offers families resources, along with emotional, peer and financial support. It also provides training and helps law enforcement agencies deal with the loss of their friend and colleague.

C.O.P.S., whose membership is 47,000 survivors strong, recently celebrated the expansion and renovation of its headquarters in Camdenton, Missouri. I’m happy and honored that PORAC was part of it.

PORAC has always been a strong supporter of C.O.P.S. Before my presidency, we sponsored one of the conference rooms during the C.O.P.S. capital campaign to raise the funds for this project. In recognition of that, Vice President Brent Meyer, Past President Mike Durant and I were invited to the ribbon cutting and grand opening festivities in July.

We toured the building and met with the staff, many of whom are survivors themselves. In that sense, the staff members are living proof to newly grieving families that they are not alone, and that they, too, will get past the pain and rebuild their lives.

As we walked down the “Road to Hope,” we came upon the “Garden of Hope,” a courtyard area in the middle of the building. In the center of the garden, which was unveiled during the ceremony, was a sculpture of the “C.O.P.S. Family Tree.” This area is a peaceful place for survivors to reflect on their fallen officers and leave a message about what C.O.P.S. has meant to them.

C.O.P.S. did a fantastic job renovating and expanding their facility (See “C.O.P.S. Grand Opening” on page 16 for photos). I am thankful for all the support and work they do on behalf of our profession and especially for the survivors of our fallen. The increased space will allow them to provide even more training and help, so if you are ever in the area, you should stop by, say hi and check it out. To see more of what they are doing, go to nationalcops.org.

AB 931 Update

As I write my article for September, the last two weeks of the legislative session are in full swing. PORAC is working with several law enforcement groups throughout California to make sure that AB 931 doesn’t pass the Legislature. This proposal calls for changing the police use-of-force standard from “reasonable” to “necessary,” and only as a last resort.

We all know that in a life-or-death situation when decisions are made in split seconds, it’s not always possible to run through a mental checklist to be sure all options are exhausted before using force. This measure would make it harder for law enforcement to do their jobs and make it easier to prosecute officers.

As I have stated many times before, neither the two authors — Assembly Members Shirley Weber (D-San Diego) and Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento) — nor the sponsor ever reached out to us when they drafted the bill. This is a shame because the front-line patrol officers will be the ones suffering the consequences of this poorly drafted legislation.

When the bill was originally drafted, the authors claimed there would be no cost to the State. I can only guess they were hoping to race it through the Senate before anyone caught on. It was recognized for what it was and sent to the Senate Appropriations Committee, where it went into the “suspense file.” This basically means a bill has a fiscal impact and has been set aside by the Appropriations Committee by a majority of members present and voting. These bills may be heard at a later hearing. On August 16, AB 931 was moved to the Rules Committee pending a decision to release it to the floor as is, with amendments, or to hold it. If it is held, it will most likely die for this session.

It should be noted that this bill will be costly if it passes. POST has said that it would run in the tens of millions of dollars or more to train and retrain officers throughout the State to this new standard. This doesn’t include any other agency’s costs, and it’s unknown what the collective costs would be.

Given that departments across the state are facing severe staffing shortages, increased overtime and stagnant budgets, the burden this bill would place on law enforcement would be onerous. Where will the funding come from? All I ever hear is how we need more and more training, yet POST continues to see their budget dwindle and not a word (or plan, for that matter) on bringing their budget back in line with the desires of so many elected officials.

AB 931 isn’t practical for a variety of reasons. PORAC and several other partner associations are taking the fight to the public to garner support. Sadly, an anti-police crowd has been elevated by the media to where they are dictating public-safety policy, not only in California but nationally.

Hopefully, I will have better news to report next month.

All the best.

President’s Message

Brian Marvel
PORAC President

As all of you have hopefully heard by now, on June 27 the U.S. Supreme Court issued its long-awaited decision in the case of Janus v. AFSCME. It overturned 41 years of established case law by declaring the collection of “fair-share” or “agency shop” fees by public employee unions to be unconstitutional under the First Amendment. This means that nonmembers can no longer be required to cover the costs of collective bargaining, managing grievances and other nonpolitical functions that unions undertake on behalf of all employees regardless of membership status. The court essentially said that all union activity is inherently political, and that requiring employees to “subsidize” it infringes on their free speech even when they also reap the benefits of their bargaining unit’s hard work.

Anti-union organizations are already gearing up an aggressive campaign to persuade public employees to leave their unions. Even though labor and supportive legislators in states like California have expected and prepared for this decision, it undoubtedly will become harder for public-sector unions to keep their heads above water as the next tidal wave of attacks on our rights and benefits rolls in.

What does this mean for PORAC members? I want to be clear that Janus does not change the well-established principles of PORAC and PORAC LDF membership: Member benefits, including legal defense coverage, are available only to individuals who maintain full membership in an association affiliated with PORAC. PORAC has the greatest lineup of attorneys, and they work exclusively for PORAC-affiliated associations. Vice President Brent Meyer details the many important benefits of membership in his message on the next page. I will add that for over 64 years, PORAC has been the most respected voice and largest collection of interests for peace officers in California. We are resolute and dedicated in protecting you and what you are trying to build for your family in the face of an increasingly challenging job that continues to grow more dangerous. PORAC is focused on building solidarity among police officers, sheriff’s deputies, correctional officers, probation officers and public safety personnel to create a common voice of advocacy on your behalf. This core commitment to bringing and keeping people together is the foundation of what PORAC represents.

Now, our united voice is more important than ever before. As I said to Corporate Counsel Bob Bonsall in our recent On the Job With PORAC podcast episode on Janus (which I encourage you to listen to for further background and analysis), I believe that this Supreme Court ruling was purely ideological, designed to undermine organized labor. After the decision was announced, PORAC issued a statement calling it what it was: the continuation of the war against both labor unions and law enforcement in this country. We already know that law enforcement is under attack, and a new pension fight looms as well. Shoulder to shoulder, we must defend our profession, our livelihoods and our very lives.

It is vitally important for all of you to continue your membership in your respective associations and maintain your associations’ membership in PORAC, so that we can keep strengthening our Legal Defense Fund, our Insurance & Benefits program, our political advocacy, and our partnerships with our fellow law enforcement organizations and labor groups. Your being a member of your association makes it stronger, and your association’s membership in PORAC makes us stronger. With your ongoing support and involvement, our organization will stand firm and steadfast for you in Sacramento and D.C. Our opponents may think they can break us, but we will prove them wrong. In times of greatest adversity, peace officers always seem to rise to the occasion and exceed expectations; this will be no different.

Connecting with our members is our highest priority, and communication is crucial in forming the powerful coalition we need to face the battle ahead. That’s why, on a happier note, I am pleased to announce that the PORAC app has won the 2018 APEX Award for Publication Excellence! This annual honor is bestowed on professional print and electronic media that demonstrate overall communications effectiveness. In partnership with our publishing team at 911MEDIA, we’ve worked hard to create a user-friendly app that allows members to access all the information they need, and we’re proud to see our efforts recognized. If you haven’t downloaded and used this award-winning tool yet, now’s the time to see what it’s all about at PORAC.org/porac-mobile-app.

As always, stay safe, and my deepest thanks for your membership and support.

President’s Message

Brian Marvel
PORAC President

Back in March, I wrote about how one of my primary goals as PORAC president is to focus on better leveraging of our communication resources to engage, inform and, most importantly, strengthen relationships between our Board, association leadership and members. So, how have we been doing so far? I’m happy to report that with every issue we have been enhancing our magazine with a member-centered approach in mind, creating and presenting content that speaks to you. This can best be illustrated by the in-depth profiles spotlighting our committees and chapters. Thanks to this series, members now know the roles and responsibilities of the people behind the Scholarship and Recruitment and Retention Committees, and the issues that the Northern and Bay Area Chapters are currently tackling. While we’re just getting the ball rolling on this series, the profiles we have run have connected our membership, generating dialogue among members throughout the state. The feedback we have received from members has also been immensely positive.

Speaking of feedback, we are very interested in hearing more from our members about how we’re doing with the magazine, so we worked with our publishers at 911MEDIA to conduct a survey at Symposium asking for input on how and what to improve. The results were eye-opening. Not only were respondents receptive to all the proposed changes that we announced in March, but they wanted us to go even further in our member-centered approach. More than half wanted member profiles highlighting an individual member’s agency, the type of work they do, their achievements and their thoughts on prevalent law enforcement issues. Adding to that, a number of respondents asked for more content written by and geared toward retirees, with many suggesting legal advice from Legal Defense Fund attorneys for RAM members.

We also received many other suggestions for substantive content to cover. Respondents expressed interest in seeing more “news-you-can-use” type articles on new equipment and technology (76%), training (82%), continuing education (79%), peace officers’ off-duty activities (70%), educational resources (71%), coverage of PORAC events and trainings classes (67%), and legal advice (94%). Specific story ideas were suggested as well, including active-shooter training, drug trends, California gun laws, pensions and career survival.

We held a very productive meeting with 911MEDIA to go over these results and strategize how best to implement all this great feedback. After going over the comments, it was evident that our members want to hear more from one another. They want to know about individual members’ challenges, achievements and the issues they’re currently facing. They also want to learn from their fellow members, who operate in various capacities in different agencies across the state.

To that end, we are currently seeking members who can help us increase our coverage of the topics identified in the survey. If you have an idea for an article (such as a member we should profile or a question you’d like answered), or if you have opinions and expertise you want to share by submitting an article for publication, please email us at PORAC@911media.com. We are also calling for RAM writers who would like to write about or share their experiences with preparing for retirement and post-retirement issues.

In addition, we encourage members to keep sharing the great work being done by their agencies. If you share your agency’s major accomplishments or their involvement in the community on social media, use the hashtag #WeArePORAC so we can see, repost and share with all our members and public safety supporters the great work that your agency is doing.

We have created another way to connect with you and the public; check out our On the Job With PORAC podcast. Our second episode discusses Police Week and the annual spring Fly-In, and we just released a special bonus episode on AB 931. You can listen at PORAC.org/podcast or via the PORAC app. We hope that you’re following along as we tackle a variety of topics, including legislation, public safety and pensions, while providing up-to-date information on officer benefits, training and advocacy. We will be increasing our content and having special interviews as we continue recording more episodes.

I would like to close out my article with the following announcements: Registration is now open for the 66th Annual Conference of Members, and we have confirmed comedian Craig Shoemaker as this year’s Installation dinner entertainment (see page 8 for more details). “Like us” on Facebook and “follow” us on Twitter as we announce more information regarding this year’s conference.

Have a safe and happy Fourth of July!