President’s Message

Brian R. Marvel
PORAC President

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

President’s Message

Brian R. Marvel
PORAC President

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

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

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

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

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

Treasurer’s Message

Timothy Davis
PORAC Treasurer

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

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

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

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

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

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

President’s Message

Brian R. Marvel
PORAC President

Normally, in even-numbered years, the stroke of midnight on August 31 ends the two-year session of our State Legislature. This year, as the evening got closer to midnight, I became more and more anxious for this session to end. When midnight passed and they were still working, it was quite nerve-wracking. The final gavel struck at around 1:30 a.m. on September 1.

PORAC monitors and takes positions on a wide variety of bills related to public safety, retirement and pensions, and this session was no different from what we have seen in the past — until the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Seeing all the hate and discontent being hurled at law enforcement, the ACLU, along with some elected officials, wasted no time in getting pen to paper. We have all heard the saying “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.” They took that to heart and tried to hit a grand slam in this COVID-19-truncated end of session. PORAC usually has a top five list of high-priority bills, but that changed pretty much overnight. It became a top 25-plus list. Of that list, 21 bills were gut-and-amends. Our usual end-of-session workload increased fivefold within days. Fortunately for us, we have amazing advocates working for PORAC, and we came together as a profession to fight the good fight.

As the bills crossed the desk to work their way through the abbreviated legislative process, we reviewed them and reached out to the authors, which we always do. Very few, if any, bills end the way they were submitted. Several authors of these bills were not interested in meeting with PORAC or other law enforcement professionals who would be impacted by them. They felt, due to the national dialogue around police reform, they would be able to run these measures through, irrespective of resistance and without any common-sense amendments. Our profession truly had to come together and fight hard to make sure our voices were heard and let our elected leaders know the detrimental effects some of these bills would have on public safety and our working conditions. As is always true in politics, you win some and you lose some. Overall, I think we were very successful in fighting back legislation that was ill-thought-out and unworkable, and would have jeopardized the lives and safety of peace officers throughout California.

When you have elected officials refusing to meet and confer on changes to a profession, that should throw up a red flag immediately! The good news is that the most detrimental pieces of legislation died in committee or on the legislative floor. Among these was SB 731 by Senator Steven Bradford. With last year’s collaborative approach to SB 230 and AB 392, PORAC clearly showed elected officials that we are more than willing to come to the table for dialogue about changes to our profession, but Senator Bradford was unwilling to meet and confer. His bill would have created a decertification protocol, along with eliminating qualified immunity. It wasn’t until about 10 days prior to the end of session, when the senator realized his bill was on shaky ground, that he halfheartedly attempted to reach out and have discussions, which I’m sure his sponsors, the ACLU, wanted no part of. Thankfully, SB 731 never made it off the floor. What is striking about his bill is that no other profession in the United States with a licensing process is subject to a commission where two-thirds of its members have a built in explicit or implicit bias against the person trying to keep their license.

One bill of note that did make it to the governor’s desk and was enrolled was AB 1506 by Assemblymember Kevin McCarty. His bill would create a division within the Department of Justice to review and make recommendations on agency use-of-force policies upon request. It would also require a state prosecutor to investigate incidents of an officer-involved shooting resulting in the death of an unarmed civilian. Assemblyman McCarty did reach out to us initially, and we expressed our concerns. We were neutral on the measure as it was originally introduced, waiting for Attorney General Becerra to weigh in. Then the assemblymember tried to take advantage of the national discourse. He amended his bill with this language: “…and would require the state prosecutor to conduct an investigation upon request from a local law enforcement agency, district attorney, city council, or county or city and county board of supervisors, on an incident involving the use of force by a peace officer that resulted in the death of a civilian.” You can see the political conundrum this creates. This would turn what should be a factual process into a political tool that can be wielded by activist politicians — which is ultimately his goal and, unfortunately, the goal of a lot of elected officials throughout California.

The six weeks leading up to August 31 were some of the longest and hardest of my three years as president of PORAC. I want to thank Randy Perry, Aaron Read and Michele Cervone of Aaron Read & Associates (ARA) for the incredible work they did on behalf of PORAC and our members. As I’ve stated many times before, I do not believe there are any other advocates in California equal to them. We should be extremely grateful that we have ARA on our side. I also would like to thank the Board of Directors, chapter presidents and PORAC affiliate SEBA for the immense amount of work they contributed to this effort. As I stated earlier, our profession came together, and I want to thank the non-PORAC-affiliated groups who worked just as tirelessly as we did, such as the CAHP, ALADS, PPOA, Cal Chiefs and the associations affiliated with the Fraternal Order of Police, among others.

We will continue to fight for and support our members in Sacramento and in Washington, D.C., especially when it comes to keeping our communities we serve and our members safe. I always say that as peace officers, we hate status quo and we hate change, but our profession is constantly moving forward and improving. Just in the 20 years I have been on the job, I have seen progress in technology, use-of-force policies, training and research. We also need to recognize that as police professionals, we must be guided by what our community wants its police departments to look like. With that said, our position has always been that we need to be consulted and have a seat at the table to negotiate what those changes will be and how they are implemented, and I do not believe that expectation is too much to ask from our elected leaders. Although we had some great success this year, I anticipate the next two years will be just as difficult, if not more so, regarding police reform bills. Lastly, if you live in L.A. County or know someone who does, please reach out and make sure they vote for L.A. DA Jackie Lacey. This is one of the most important races in the state of California.

I hope you have a happy and safe Halloween, in whatever form it takes this year.

President’s Message

Brian R. Marvel
PORAC President

In the past several months, our profession has worked harder than ever before to spearhead positive change in our communities, listen to concerns from residents and immediately call out unacceptable actions by members of our profession. Yet, you’ll be hard-pressed to find much from the media about the monumental strides our profession has made, from the groundbreaking formation of the new PORAC-led United for Positive Reform (UPR) coalition to our continued efforts to push for a national conversation about universal training, recruitment and use-of-force standards.

Instead, the media has taken what happened in Minneapolis and used it to spread misinformation, sensationalism and bald-faced lies about our profession in an attempt to tarnish law enforcement as much as possible and turn our cities into fend-for-yourself wastelands. One such article that made my head spin was a hit piece from The New Yorker by a Harvard history professor titled “The Invention of the Police,” in which she claims “two-thirds of Americans between the ages of 15 and 34 who were treated in emergency rooms suffered from injuries inflicted by police and security guards, about as many people as the number of pedestrians injured by motor vehicles.” You can imagine my surprise when the author, who failed to provide any sort of evidence to support this outrageous claim or mention where this information came from, received zero consequences for her clearly false claim. Instead, after enough people called out the deceitful rhetoric, The New Yorker finally acquiesced and placed a correction — a short, one-sentence blurb at the end of her 5,000-word tripe — that stated the passage was simply a “misrepresentation.”

This article is just one example of the constant attempts made on a daily basis to wreak havoc on our proud and hardworking profession. When radicalized and false messaging is pushed out and consumed by the public, it’s unfortunately no surprise when we see violence and harassment against peace officers erupt around the country. In the past few months alone, we’ve seen disturbing incidents in which officers have had their homes vandalized, their cars defaced for sporting thin blue line stickers and their children threatened simply because of their parent’s profession. Yet, this same media barely covers the violence against us and continues to use the misnomer that these protests are “peaceful.”

As a result of the noise from a very vocal minority, the “cancel culture” hysteria has been set on overdrive in recent months against anything that portrays law enforcement in a remotely positive light. First, the Paramount Network canceled Cops right before the premiere of its 33rd season. Then, A&E pulled the plug on Live PD (with the network seeing a 49% viewership drop and a loss of roughly $292.6 million in advertising since doing so). Now we’re seeing cancel culture rear its ugly head toward cartoon shows, with the popular children’s show PAW Patrol facing backlash, not from the kids who watch the show, but from grown adults, with some calling for the removal of Chase, the crime-fighting police dog, from the show’s cast of characters.

The insanity doesn’t stop there. The Northwest Film Center in Portland, Oregon, canceled its outdoor screening of the 1990 classic Kindergarten Cop (which was filmed in Oregon) over complaints that the movie “romanticizes over-policing in the U.S.” Finally, I recently read a post that had me shaking my head from an Austin, Texas, bike shop that decided to cancel its $314,000 contract with the Austin Police Department after three employees said they felt uncomfortable providing bikes to officers and didn’t like how officers were using the bikes to manage crowds. You can’t make this stuff up.

We are indeed living in a much different world than we were at the beginning of the year. Being a peace officer in California, and nationally, has never been smooth sailing, but now we are faced with more challenges than ever, thanks in large part to our elected officials being so afraid of the mob and so out of touch with reality that they’ve chosen to slash police budgets without thinking of the consequences and move forward with the push to let non-sworn civilians do the job of trained law enforcement officers. If this “reimagined” public safety solution ends badly, like the maiming or death of one of these workers, there will be blood on the hands of these elected officials.

As shown in the countless hours PORAC has spent working on positive change, we understand as well as anyone about the need to have important conversations on policing and public safety. True wisdom is knowing what we don’t know and recognizing that. Sadly, that lack of true wisdom is on full display in Sacramento!

With all the craziness that’s happened in recent months, there is still reason to celebrate. This month, as we celebrate PORAC’s 67th birthday, I can’t help but feel extremely grateful and humbled to be the president of such a tremendous organization. An organization that championed professionalizing law enforcement, protecting the rights of our members, and most recently creating the first-in-the-nation standardized statewide training on use of force, to name just a few. As we near 70 years as an association, please take a few moments to reflect on why you entered this profession and how all of us together can ensure PORAC remains strong for years to come. But make no mistake, taking law enforcement shows off the air, removing characters who portray police officers and shunning the hundreds of thousands of peace officers who serve and protect this country is no way to do it.

President’s Message

Brian R. Marvel
PORAC President

Back in June, the Board of Directors discussed re-establishing the Committee on Peace Officer Relations (COPOR), which was created a few decades ago to address diversity issues in police recruitment and encourage agencies to recruit LGBTQ+, people of color and women into the profession. I am happy to announce that the committee has officially been reinstated, but with a renewed focus: to bring diverse voices from PORAC members and the community at large into productive conversations to generate commonsense solutions for a vision of law enforcement that supports public safety.

I selected Executive Committee Director Marshall McClain to chair the committee and Inland Chapter President Rich Randolph as the vice-chair. They will make COPOR’s focus a reality with the help of a cultural caucus of law enforcement members from the Black, Latinx, Asian-American,  Native American, Jewish and LGBTQ+ communities. Together, they form the foundation of United for Positive Reform (UPR), a unique coalition of organizations and community members committed to establishing constructive relationships, finding common ground and generating commonsense solutions for effective systemic change. The group’s mission is to promote a more transparent and accessible vision of law enforcement that supports public safety while including diverse voices and addressing the need for meaningful and sustainable improvement of our profession.

By working alongside faith-based leaders, schools, social justice groups and other stakeholders, we hope to come together and use facts and information to make evidence-based determinations on what reform looks like. We endeavor to make sustainable change through education, communication and collaboration — unlike our opposition, who are creating fear, spreading misinformation, disinformation and propaganda by a willing media, and driving emotional arguments to encourage knee-jerk solutions, such as defunding and abolishing agencies, that do nothing to effect real systemic change or increase public safety.

Unfortunately, we will not get the media coverage like the anti-police protesters are getting because they are willing to say and do outlandish things. A lot of people in leadership positions are fearful of the protesters. As a result, the opposition’s emotional arguments are currently winning the day. However, while they are out there creating divisiveness and animosity, we’re providing reasonable solutions.

Now more than ever, we need harmony, and that is why it was pivotal for us to reinstate COPOR at this crucial time in our profession. The committee’s United for Positive Reform coalition will allow us to reach diverse audiences in various sectors of the community and foster a more inclusive relationship between law enforcement and those they serve, while also helping to further amplify PORAC’s voice on the state and federal levels. I encourage you to get involved in the coalition if you can. Please visit united4positivereform.org for more information.

Speaking of amplifying our voice, on July 8, I was among a small handful of law enforcement leaders who delivered testimony before the President’s Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice during a hearing on community trust and respect for law enforcement. In my testimony, I provided recommendations for how we can improve police–community relationships by improving police policies and practices: establishing national standards for recruitment, training and use of force; funding to implement those national standards; and programs and funding for mental health, addiction and homeless services. I am hopeful that our input has provided the commission with insight on how to better our profession.

In addition, we continue to speak with elected leaders in Sacramento and Washington, D.C., providing our input and information on a variety of bill proposals.

At the time of this writing, the Legislature in Sacramento has recessed. This was originally scheduled as a two-week recess, but it has now been extended to three, leaving us with a little over five weeks to address the more than 20 bills that will dramatically affect our profession in the state. We’re hoping common sense prevails because some of the changes being proposed will have substantial repercussions on officer safety, as well as our ability to ensure that the communities we serve are safe. The two biggest bills of concern are AB 1709 (Weber) and AB 1022 (Holden), which can easily be dubbed “cop-killer bills.” (See this month’s Capitol Beat article on page 38 for more information.)

On the federal level, we’ve had conversations with Representative Karen Bass regarding the Justice in Policing Act. We’ve provided our input and thoughts on each component of the act to not only her office but also Senator Dianne Feinstein’s, which reached out immediately for our input. In addition, we have requests to meet with Senator Tim Scott regarding the JUSTICE Act, his Senate bill on police reform. We hope that by communicating with Representative Bass and Senator Scott, we can provide rational and reasoned information on moving police reform forward at the federal level that will improve our profession and public safety.

In closing, you may not see us on Fox News or your local news, but the reality is that we’re talking to the right people at the right time to make sure our experiences, our knowledge and the work we’ve done in California are not overshadowed by other organizations that don’t necessarily reflect the high levels of professionalism that you see in our state. 

President’s Message

Brian R. Marvel
PORAC President

Amazing how the world turns in less than a month. One incident in one city a thousand miles away has upended our entire profession, sparking dramatic calls for police reform at the federal, state and local levels. All the hard work responding to the COVID-19 crisis, the last couple of years working with the Legislature on Senate Bill 230/Assembly Bill 392, and the increased work on building greater relationships and trust within minority communities all pretty much evaporated overnight with the death of George Floyd. A vast majority of peace officers around the nation, including PORAC, were shocked and saddened by what we saw on that video. The actions of that officer and his partners have created an environment where protesters are demanding radical reforms, the abolishment of police unions, defunding police departments and in some places trying to abolish entire agencies. And efforts to have fact-based or logical discussions on these issues have been parked at the front door! Pure emotion is driving a lot of this.

Fortunately, on the federal level, we do not have one-party rule like in California, so we anticipate a modicum of allowing rank-and-file peace officers at the table to discuss the reforms being proposed in the House and Senate. In contrast, in California, the rush and desire to one-up each other on police reform goes almost unchecked. A large portion of elected officials are running scared, fueled by the media fanning the flames of hate and discontent for those who wear the badge and especially those who protect their due process rights, pay and benefits. Even on the local level, we are seeing some city councils enact legislation quickly so we cannot organize. They want to steamroll their reforms through so they can appease the protesters. Appeasement never seems to work out like the appeasers believe it will.

It is not all bad news. We have had some successes, although quietly. The governor has been traveling around the state, touring schools and talking to the kids. As the budget talks were getting close to being a done deal, we caught wind that the governor had proposed eliminating school police departments and school resource officers, among other issues. I thought to myself, “We have come to a place where kids are driving public safety policy. I feel like I’m in the twilight zone or this is an April’s Fool’s joke!” But, alas, it wasn’t. We immediately organized and marshaled the school police members of PORAC to educate and advocate to our elected leaders on the folly of this plan. Within 24 hours of hearing about this, we successfully averted the trailer bill and have now created an opportunity to have dialogue on this issue. We still have friends at the Capitol, we still have supporters, and we are grateful that rational and cooler heads prevailed.

However, although it may appear that our communities have turned their backs on us in some parts of the state, I have faith that a majority of citizens support our profession and our ability to protect and serve our communities. I think it was very telling that the Fund a Hero campaign we created in honor of fallen Santa Cruz Sheriff’s Sergeant Damon Gutzwiller raised more than $750,000 for his family during this very tragic time. That leads me to believe that we have a much stronger base of support than our critics want to portray. As these protests continue, there are so many anti-police media stories that they are running out of talking heads. Now they just bring people in who just lie about police contracts. As with all pendulums, it will swing back, hopefully sooner rather than later for us.

With all of that said, PORAC continues to advocate on the state and federal levels. I have provided testimony to the House and Senate Judiciary Committees regarding police reform. We continue to push for a national conversation about use-of-force policies, training and recruitment. Now more than ever, it appears that what we have been advocating for over the past several years will take hold on the federal level, and California can be a leader in this area. In addition to our federal outreach, we are actively working to make sure that we have a seat at the table to be able to provide input and guide what the reforms will look like here in our state. I firmly believe that our profession will change, but to what degree, I do not know. The Board of Directors is working very hard to make sure your voices are heard. This will require a team effort on all levels.

In closing, I want to take a moment to memorialize Sergeant Gutzwiller, who was killed in the line of duty on June 6, and to send our prayers for a speedy recovery to the other brave officers who were injured in the incident. It is very unfortunate that a member of a far-right extremist group was able to fly under the radar and kill one of our members. We hope that justice is swift, and the federal and state government will take decisive action against this group. If they are willing to tear the fabric of society in Santa Cruz, they are willing to do it nationally, and nothing they advocate for will make America better.

Finally, please be aware that we are doing everything in our power to make sure the annual Conference of Members happens and is a great success. We are experiencing some issues due to the continuing coronavirus pandemic. Please go to PORAC.org/events/conference to sign up for our email alerts to stay fully informed of the status along with other pertinent information.

President’s Message

Brian R. Marvel
PORAC President

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

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

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

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

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

Stay safe.

President’s Message

Brian R. Marvel
PORAC President

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay safe and healthy.

President’s Message

Brian R. Marvel
PORAC President

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PORAC COVID-19 Resource Page