Treasurer’s Message

Timothy Davis
PORAC Treasurer

In 1998, I was hired as a Sacramento police officer. During my six months in the Academy, I attended the funerals of two law enforcement officers who were killed in the line of duty. On December 8, 1998, Sacramento Deputy Sandra Larson was killed in a traffic collision while transporting prisoners. Even though I was only two months into the Academy, I can still remember the gravity that her death brought to me. It opened my eyes to the reality that law enforcement officers are not invincible, and in my chosen occupation there was a real possibility that one day I might not return home from my shift.

It was just three months later, as I was completing the last weeks of the Academy, that the Sacramento Police Department lost Officer Bill Bean when he was shot and killed while conducting a traffic stop in North Sacramento. I never met Officer Bean, but I remember the shock and strong emotions that I felt as we grieved the loss of a member of our police department family.

I was sworn in as a Sacramento police officer on March 5, 1999, and was assigned to work with my first FTO in the same neighborhood in North Sacramento where Officer Bean had been murdered. I remember my FTO pointing out the location where Officer Bean was killed, as well as the location where Sacramento Officer Emily Morgenroth had been struck and killed by a drunk driver in October 1997. The lives of these three officers, none of whom I had ever met, touched my life. They affected my career. I knew that they gave their lives in protection of Sacramento, the city where I had grown up and taken the same oath to protect as they had. I wanted to honor their memories by doing my job to the best of my abilities.

For 20 years after the murder of Officer Bean, the Sacramento Police Department did not see a line-of-duty death. During the same period, I watched as nine of my brothers at the Sacramento Sheriff’s Department lost their lives protecting our community. It didn’t make any sense to me why they had experienced such tragedy while we had avoided it for my entire career.

On the evening of June 19, 2019, I was with my wife when I received a phone call that we had an “officer down” in North Sacramento. My son, who is also a Sacramento police officer, was just finishing his field training and was assigned to work evenings in North Sacramento. As the call was still developing, I did not know who the officer was. My thoughts immediately went to my son and his safety. My wife began to panic, but quickly got ahold of our son and determined that he was safe. It was the longest 90 seconds of our lives. My initial relief soon turned to guilt as I realized that my son’s safety just meant another family’s grief. That evening, Officer Tara O’Sullivan was murdered while assisting a domestic violence victim retrieving some personal property. It was a senseless murder and a horrible tragedy. 

While I had met Officer O’Sullivan a few times, I did not truly know her. I had taught her Academy class for two days the previous November as we covered the topics of traffic and DUI enforcement. I met her again at her Academy graduation and then again when we signed up the new graduates for the Association. I wish I had known her better. I have learned over the past month how amazing a woman she was and how many lives she touched. I have heard countless people tell stories about Officer O’Sullivan, and I am inspired by the number of lives one person with a good heart can touch.

I have witnessed an outpouring of support from our community toward Officer O’Sullivan’s family and our law enforcement community. Following an emotional and touching funeral, I took part in an hour-long precession from Roseville, through Sacramento and into Elk Grove. What I saw brought me to tears: The streets were lined with men, women and children, all holding signs and waving flags, supporting their law enforcement officers. The experience reminded me that the majority of our community appreciates what we do. Five simple words spoken by children along the procession route, “Thank you for your service,” had a profound impact on me that day.

As I told a large gathering at Officer O’Sullivan’s candlelight vigil, “There is evil in this world.” That evil took her life as well as countless other law enforcement lives throughout this state and our nation. Law enforcement officers are all that stands between the evil and our communities. Unfortunately, Officer O’Sullivan’s life won’t be the last. Ours is a dangerous calling and we never know when we will be called home in the service of our fellow citizens. I know my experiences are not unique. Most officers and departments have similar stories, and I’m sure many of you have experienced your own grief around the loss of an officer you knew or had contact with. I challenge you all to live like Officer O’Sullivan did, a life of service and inspiring others. That way our fallen can live on through us, and their legacy of service can continue to bless the communities they chose to serve.

Treasurer’s Message

Timothy Davis
PORAC Treasurer

By the time this article is printed, I will have reached the six-month mark as PORAC treasurer. This is the sixth article I have written, and over the last six months, my articles have covered a variety of topics. I received an email from a member earlier this month asking why my treasurer articles were not about being a treasurer. Until that email, I wasn’t even sure anyone read my articles. A week later, I ran into a member who said he recognized my face from my articles and stated he enjoyed my articles. My wife, who was with me at the time, was surprised and asked me if “people actually read those?” Until this month I wasn’t sure. As for the focus of my future articles, I will continue to cover any topic that I feel best serves the interests of PORAC and its members.

Over the last six months, I have discovered that the role of PORAC treasurer is much more than just keeping track of the money. While the title of “treasurer” clearly conveys my financial responsibilities, those responsibilities are just the beginning of my obligations. Since my election as treasurer, I have been working to complete my financial obligations, and I can attest that the finances of PORAC are sound. Over the last six months, I have completed a myriad of tasks associated with my responsibilities. I have met with the PAC attorneys to help prepare our required PAC filings. I chaired a meeting of the Fiscal Management Committee in which we reviewed a year’s worth of reimbursement requests. I chaired a meeting of the Budget Committee where we prepared and amended the first draft budget for 2020 and reviewed the compensation of the PORAC staff. I have met with PORAC’s investment adviser to ensure our investments continue to meet PORAC’s investment guidelines while also ensuring PORAC has the appropriate cash on hand to conduct the day-to-day needs of a statewide labor organization. I have met frequently with the PORAC staff to ensure the finances are sound and that the staff is properly completing their financial tasks. I directed the creation of an electronic reimbursement system to replace PORAC’s outdated paper system, and I am working to finalize its implementation by the end of the year.

These financial responsibilities are only a part of my responsibility as an officer of PORAC. When I ran for treasurer last fall, I ran on a platform of using my role as treasurer for more than just managing the money. The treasurer is one of only three positions elected statewide by the entire membership of PORAC, and as such, the position commands much respect both inside and outside of PORAC. I have been working with both President Marvel and Vice President Kurtz to leverage my position as treasurer and my location in Sacramento to increase the public reach of PORAC. Under President Marvel’s direction, I have accompanied him in representing PORAC and I have represented PORAC in instances when he or Vice President Kurtz have not been able to. The treasurer is also one of 11 members of the Executive Committee. The Executive Committee is the backbone of PORAC and is the body most responsible for directing the path of PORAC, along with the full Board of Directors. I take my role on the Executive Committee quite seriously. Our dialogue at those meetings helps us vet ideas and help PORAC achieve its mission.

The treasurer of PORAC is an important responsibility and I am honored to be able to serve in the position. The position of treasurer, however, is about much more than just keeping track of the money. It is about advancing the interests of PORAC and the interests of the law enforcement officers it serves. I am here to serve in any way I am needed.  

Treasurer’s Message

Timothy Davis
PORAC Treasurer

Those of us in leadership roles in law enforcement unions often face the difficult task of interacting in the political process with our corresponding bodies of government. Whether we like it or not, as public employees, we must deal with the government and the politicians who control it. Unfortunately, we do not get to control who is elected to manage the government that employs us, but we can have input in the process. The level and type of input law enforcement unions have with local and state governments are as diverse as the strategies and opinions we have about the political process.

If I were to ask the membership of PORAC or the membership of my local union in Sacramento how to best interact with elected politicians, I would get a diverse chorus of opinions. There are those who think politicians are evil and that we should never talk to them. There are those who see their political party as good and the others as evil, and they wonder why we don’t just pick their party and refuse to meet with the other. There are those who think we should take strict positions and refuse to negotiate, and there are those who think we should cave in at every opportunity.

Selecting a political strategy when representing such a diverse group of members, all with very different political ideologies, can be difficult. At local association board meetings and in our various chapters, our members share their wide range of opinions on how we can best engage politically. Even among the members of the PORAC Board of Directors, we hear very divergent ideas for weathering the political storm we encounter at the State Capitol. These heartfelt and often emotional discussions are good for our organizations and help us carve the best path forward.

We, through our local associations, chapters and PORAC, must engage in the political process or lose our ability to influence policies that directly affect us. Despite the ugliness of politics and the nature of some of the politicians we are forced to deal with, we must participate in the process. Even if our only hope is to mitigate the harm that certain proposed legislation aims to cause, we must still try. This means interacting with politicians from both parties; it means interacting with both the friends of law enforcement and those who stand in opposition to our mission and purposes.

Politics is about relationships. We must establish relationships with those in political power regardless of how we feel about them or how they feel about us. We cannot wait until there is a critical topic up for discussion before we show up in their offices.  Relationships must be established before they are needed. Recurring meetings, perhaps quarterly or monthly, allow union leaders and elected officials to keep in touch, establish rapport and discuss what issues are most important. These meetings should not focus solely on topics that are important to the union; they must also include discussions on topics important to the politician representing them. Listening to a politician’s wants and needs will help you to find the intersection between their vision and your goals. Focus on the common ground. With some creativity, you may be able to get them to champion legislation that will benefit you. 

As we plan our political strategies, it is important to remember what the missions of our organizations are and to focus on those topics that further the association’s core goals. We cannot allow ourselves to be drawn off topic. Our members joined our associations because they agree with the association’s mission. Taking positions on political issues outside our core mission will both alienate our membership and dilute the strength of the positions we take that are in actual furtherance of our mission. Sometimes we can endorse legislation or ideas outside our core mission that helps us to build beneficial relationships with politicians or other community organizations, but this should only be done when we can do so without conflicting with our own mission and without alienating our membership or relationships with other important political stakeholders.

Managing our political message can be difficult. We must present a message that is free of confusion and conflict. When possible, law enforcement should present a united message with well-thought-out talking points. Presenting conflicting messaging should be avoided. An example of a conflict in messaging is advocating for both higher pay and increased staffing. A city council presented with both requests and limited funds will resolve the conflict in their own favor, often by declining salary increases in favor of ensuring needed staffing. The conflict in messaging can be avoided by focusing on one message at a time. Simplifying our messaging and focusing only on our most important requests can help us achieve better results.

The political process is difficult to navigate, but our involvement is critical to the success of law enforcement. We must engage in the process or get left behind. Our detractors are very active in politics; that means our involvement is crucial to counterbalance their anti-police advocacy. PORAC is active in the process at the state level and is here to support you in your local efforts.

Treasurer’s Message

Timothy Davis
PORAC Treasurer

Every May, those of us in the law enforcement community and those who support us join together to remember and honor our fallen officers.  At ceremonies in our local communities, at the State Capitol in Sacramento and at the National Peace Officers Memorial Day in Washington, D.C., we take a moment of silence and then add the names of our fallen brothers and sisters to memorials, vowing to always remember their sacrifices. In California, we will be adding to our state memorial in Sacramento the names of eight officers who died in the line of duty in 2018. Eight officers who, in their dedicated service to their communities, gave their lives to protect us and our families.

We honor our fallen officers in somber, tradition-filled ceremonies each May because we want to recognize their ultimate sacrifices and remember their lives.  Whether we are attending these ceremonies to honor a fallen friend and partner or whether we are standing in solidarity with our brothers and sisters who have, May is always an important time in our law enforcement family. It is an opportunity for us to reflect on our own lives and a time to remember the lives of both our recent and past fallen officers. 

Last year in the United States, 158 officers were lost in the line of duty. One hundred and fifty-eight officers who did not return home to their families. One hundred and fifty-eight families who lost their loved one. One hundred and fifty-eight departments who lost a brother or sister officer. One hundred and fifty-eight gaps left in our communities. Each of these fallen officers were individuals who made the ultimate sacrifice and their death leaves a void in their department, in their community and in their family. 

As we all look back on our careers, many of us have crossed paths with individuals whose names are included on the walls and memorials in our communities, states and nation. We have pledged in the past to never forget their sacrifices. Take time this month, as we honor our newly fallen, to also remember those whom we have lost in the past. Find ways to honor their memories by giving service to others. Many organizations could use your support. State and local memorial groups help us remember the fallen. Survivor service groups like Concerns of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S.) allow us to serve the surviving families and co-workers. Peer support and chaplaincy programs allow us to serve the mental and spiritual health of affected co-workers. Countless community groups allow you to serve families, children and members of your local community. Find an opportunity to serve in memory of those who have gone before us.

Our law enforcement community is full of amazing and wonderful people —  men and women willing to lay down their lives to protect their communities. Their stories of bravery and service continue to amaze me. Don’t let their story die with you. Find ways to preserve and share their story with the next generation. Also, find ways to honor their memory through continued service to your community, your family and your fellow officers.

Treasurer’s Message

Timothy Davis
PORAC Treasurer

Society Needs to Respect the Enforcement of the
Rule of Law

 Editor’s note: This op-ed appeared in The Sacramento Bee on March 17.

 The shooting of Stephon Clark has now been reviewed by two independent agencies, the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office and the California Department of Justice. Both agencies spent nearly a year combing through all the evidence, including video recordings, photographs, witness interviews, forensic evidence, coroner’s reports and countless other evidence.

Both agencies independently concluded that the officers’ actions were not criminal and were consistent with the law. These officers were called on by concerned citizens who needed them to address the criminal actions of Clark. Both the district attorney and the attorney general proved that Clark was involved in criminal acts.

When officers contacted Clark, he did not comply. Instead of taking advantage of an open avenue of escape, he chose to turn on the officers, who both said he took a shooting stance and aggressively advanced on them. The officers clearly believed Clark was in possession of a gun and posed a deadly threat. The officers had no choice but to use force to protect themselves and the community they serve.

While Clark’s death is a tragedy, it is a tragedy of his own making. His actions necessitated the officers’ response. As a society, we expect and demand officers to intercede when criminal activity is in progress. Law enforcement officers don’t pick and choose which laws to enforce and how to enforce those laws. They are trained to protect people, property and themselves. When suspects are not compliant with law enforcement, the consequences are predictable. 

Now, with the investigations concluded and the officers’ actions confirmed to be clearly in accordance to the law, some are demanding the law be changed. Others are second-guessing the officers’ split-second actions in a dangerous situation. Some are wondering if more training could ensure that no one is ever hurt during crimes or arrests. These questions all ignore half of the equation. They fail to consider the actions of the involved criminals, who are the ones most capable of preventing the use of force.

Officers use force in response to resistance and threats. Every day, officers encounter crimes in progress. Most of these encounters end without the use of any force because most alleged suspects comply with law enforcement. However, sometimes force is needed to overcome resistance, and that force is proportionate to the perceived resistance and threat. To prevent force being used to overcome resistance, a criminal who is subject to arrest need only comply.

The U.S. Supreme Court has established the standard to judge officers and that standard accounts for the fact that we place our officers in dangerous situations where we expect them to make split-second, life-and-death decisions with limited information. Due to this expectation, we must judge law enforcement personnel based only on the information they knew at the time.

Now, in a gross overreaction, Assembly Bill 392 would allow officers to be charged with murder if, in the calm of the months after an incident, anyone can think of anything the officers could have done differently to have avoided deadly use of force, even mandating that officers retreat from criminals who resist. This is an unobtainable standard. The endless lines of “what ifs” will always exist. In the fractions of seconds that officers have to make these decisions, it is impossible to evaluate all the “what ifs.”

Is this really what our community expects? Do we want officers to retreat from dangerous situations, fail to protect our community and leave the law-abiding public to fend for themselves as criminals are allowed to engage in their criminal behavior unchecked by a neutered police force?

If we truly want to reduce the number of police encounters that end in tragedy, then we must solve the underlying problems. We should improve training and policies for officers. We must provide resources for those in society who are struggling with mental health issues, chemical dependencies, lack of education, homelessness and poverty. Most importantly, we must teach our youth and others that compliance with laws and law enforcement minimizes violence and prevents the use of force by officers.

Police departments across the state, including the Sacramento Police Department, are already working on implementing changes. As a result, deadly encounters in California were down 34% in 2018. The state DOJ has outlined a framework for these changes and SB 230 would mandate many of the attorney general’s recommendations throughout the state.

Legislators have a clear choice this legislative cycle: They can either vote for a comprehensive solution to improve public safety and reduce future tragedies, or they can vote to send officers to prison and cripple law enforcement’s ability to protect and serve.

Treasurer’s Message

Timothy Davis
PORAC Treasurer

Law enforcement officers are often criticized for their interactions with three groups of people that continue to fill our streets and communities: the homeless, the mentally ill and those who are drug and/or alcohol dependent. There certainly are grounds to argue that many of these people are where they are because of the choices they have made, but we, as law enforcement officers, cannot ignore the fact that these groups draw away resources that traditionally have been used elsewhere. In many communities throughout our state, calls for service involving these groups are common, strain resources and are at higher risk of resulting in conflict.

Demand for police services in these areas continue to grow, despite many law enforcement agencies reallocating officers and resources to address these calls. This is not because law enforcement is failing. It is because all the other levels of government have failed.  Law enforcement professionals have long been called to do the jobs other government agencies have left undone, and this problem has been magnified in dealing with the homeless, mentally ill and chemically dependent. Law enforcement officers often go home discouraged because they are unable to stop an unrelenting tide of mental health and homeless calls and don’t have the resources they need to help these citizens end their downward spirals. 

Our officers have been given the unattainable task of solving a problem that no other level of government has succeeded in doing. When police interactions with the mentally ill, the homeless or the chemically dependent go bad, politicians grandstand and anti-police groups attack. But it is not the fault of the police. It is the fault of both society and government as a whole, which have not provided the solutions or the tools officers need to solve what has proven to be a difficult and growing problem. Law enforcement officers are only one member of a larger team tasked with solving this problem. Just as it is unfair to blame a team’s goalie when the opposing team scores, it is also unfair to blame law enforcement officers when an encounter goes bad if no other levels of government have assisted in our efforts and elected officials have failed to give us the resources we need.

This legislative cycle, our state elected leaders are faced with a choice on how to reduce negative outcomes in police encounters with the mentally ill, the homeless and those who are chemically dependent. Two plans have been introduced. One blames police officers, attacks their right to self-defense and seeks to punish police officers as murderers when they err in their spilt-second decision-making. The other, SB 230, gives our law enforcement officers the tools they need to succeed: training, policy improvements and, most important, resources to help the mentally ill, the homeless and the chemically dependent get off the streets and into services that can improve their situations. Law enforcement officers often feel like the goalie on the field alone.  It’s time for the rest of government and society to get on the field, play their positions and help us solve these critical issues as a team.

Treasurer’s Message

Timothy Davis
PORAC Treasurer

When I was elected president of the Sacramento Police Officers Association, I had a singular focus on negotiating our association’s next MOU. While I was aware that there were many other responsibilities of an association president, I had not given them much thought. During my first month as president, many of these other responsibilities reared their heads. I was immediately contacted by two mayoral candidates who wanted our association’s endorsement, I was called out to provide representation to officers on a critical incident, I had my first closed-door meeting with the chief of police, I responded to media requests for interviews, I began meeting with city council members who had been neglected by my association in the past and I held my first board meeting, in which a divided group argued over a very contentious issue. I was overwhelmed and, to be honest, I really didn’t know what I was doing.

I quickly realized that I could not do the job alone, but I was under the misguided belief that I should be able to run my organization completely by myself, without any training or assistance. On my first callout I didn’t even notify the other members of my association’s leadership team, because I didn’t think it would be right for me to bother them at night. One afternoon, a few weeks into my term, I became frustrated because I was having difficulty setting up an appointment to meet with my city council members. One of the staff members saw my frustration and said, “Why are you trying to do that? That’s my job.” I felt both stupid and relieved — stupid for not having asked and relieved to know that there were people just waiting to assist me in my duties and responsibilities.

I’m not sure if other association leaders have had similar experiences, but the truth is that most of us who volunteer to serve our membership begin with little knowledge on how to do the job well. While I struggled through my first few months, my true failure was being too proud to ask for help. After those first few weeks, I quickly rectified that error. I began to reach out for both assistance and knowledge. I learned that there are many experienced leaders out there who have been through similar experiences. These leaders also had to struggle at first, and they achieved their successes because others were there to help them in their times of need. Most of these leaders stand ready to help us when we need them.

I also discovered that I need training to learn how to better serve my membership. An association president needs to understand negotiations, public relations, media relations, politics, discipline process, leadership, mentoring, budgeting and many other diverse topics. Association leaders need to seek out training for themselves and for their board members. I searched for and began attending training that would help me be more successful in serving my membership. I passed on the knowledge I gained to my board and encouraged them to attend training, too.

My keys to understanding how to be successful in my responsibilities were conversations with my fellow association leaders and attending training. PORAC was instrumental in helping me in these two areas. I began attending my local chapter and other PORAC meetings, where I would see leaders of other associations in my region. I would take the opportunity to discuss issues affecting my association and gained great insight from my fellow leaders. I also began to attend PORAC training classes. At these classes, I not only received great instruction, but I was again able to meet with other association leaders to share and discuss issues that affected our members.

Even now, with over three years of experience in running my association, I still feel that there is much for me to learn. I still use the connections I have made at PORAC to discuss important issues with my fellow association leaders, and I continue to search out new training courses for myself and my association board. I would encourage those of you in leadership roles in your association to attend PORAC meetings and training. Participate and learn. Make new relationships with other leaders in your area and you will learn to be a better servant to your membership.

Treasurer’s Message

Timothy Davis
PORAC Treasurer

I want to start by thanking the PORAC membership for electing me as treasurer of PORAC. I am honored to be selected to serve you and the interests of law enforcement in California. I pledge to put my time, efforts and knowledge toward advancing the safety of all Californians, especially those who have stepped forward, put on a badge and serve their communities as law enforcement officers.

I come from a law enforcement family. My father started his career with the Sacramento Police Department in 1970, after returning home from his military service in Vietnam. As a child, I remember him stopping by the house during his evening shift for “Code-7.” I was proud to see my father in uniform. When he returned to work after eating, my sisters and I would watch out the window as he turned on his emergency lights, chirped his siren and left to complete his shift. I was inspired by my father and his service to both our city as a police officer and our nation as a military police officer in the Army National Guard. He always seemed to be in one uniform or the other.

I followed in my father’s footsteps and joined the Sacramento Police Department in 1998, where I have served as a police officer for the past 20 years. My son, by graduating from the Sacramento Police Academy this past summer, has made it three generations from the Davis family to serve Sacramento.

My family is not unusual. Many of you come from law enforcement families. Whether you are the first from your family to serve or you come from a multigenerational law enforcement family like mine, we are all brothers and sisters, serving our communities together. We have all, by taking the oath to serve, joined the law enforcement family. Our family is currently facing many struggles. Many of us are facing staffing shortages and long hours, as our agencies labor to fill vacant positions. We are under attack from the media and anti-police groups who mistakenly blame law enforcement for society’s problems and failures. We are facing more dangerous criminals in our communities as changes such as realignment and reduced sentencing have emptied prisons and jails and returned criminals back into the neighborhoods we police. With decriminalization of drugs, lack of quality mental health services and rampant homeless problems in our communities, the demands on law enforcement is ever increasing yet we don’t have the tools and staffing we need to adequately and safely address the problems that society demands we solve.

Our law enforcement family is strained and struggling, but we are resilient and will push through. We have proven our ability to adapt to societal changes and we will continue to be successful in safely serving the communities we are sworn to protect. There is much work to do. I dedicate myself to serving you. I am honored to walk with you and I am here to advocate for law enforcement and for laws and policies that will allow us all to better serve and safeguard our communities.