Treasurer’s Message

Timothy Davis
PORAC Treasurer

A career in law enforcement can at times engulf our entire life.
Law enforcement isn’t just an occupation; it can become a lifestyle that affects every aspect of our lives. Often officers develop a sense of distrust in people outside of law enforcement circles, and as a result, they gravitate toward other officers to build relationships and friendships. Eventually, they may limit their activities and relationships so that all of their contacts are within the occupation and all of their activities are confined within law enforcement circles.

In addition to limiting their free-time activities to within law enforcement circles, officers often take advantage of the many overtime opportunities that are connected with the occupation. After officers get used to the extra income associated with these overtime opportunities, they find themselves trapped in a constant cycle of overtime because their expenses have expanded to rely on the overtime income. This extra time at work further increases our contact with the criminal elements of society and limits our ability to escape from the negativity of the occupation. If we aren’t careful, we can find that nearly every minute of our day and every day of our lives is swallowed by the occupation that we love. We work long hours, and when we do have time off, we choose to surround ourselves with other members of the law enforcement family and further immerse ourselves in the law enforcement culture.

While we have all committed ourselves to a noble occupation, it is not healthy for us to completely immerse ourselves in the law enforcement lifestyle. We all need to have the opportunity to leave the job, culture and lifestyle behind and decompress in the regular world. Without outlets in the regular world, we can become jaded, distrusting, depressed or burnt out. Our mind can become accustomed to the negativities of the occupation and we can lose track of the joys of life.

I encourage all officers to find time to distance themselves from the negativity that our occupation can heap on our minds and souls, and embrace the joys of life and the good that society can provide. There are many wholesome activities that we can engage in away from work that can bring peace to our souls and help us to relieve the negativity that can build in our minds. We all need to have activities and friends outside the occupation, and we need to ensure that we schedule time in our life to participate in those activities. We should devote time to participating in activities with our families and in our community. Find hobbies you enjoy and participate in them with friends outside the occupation.

When I need to escape, I like to spend the day hiking out in nature. I’ll take a drive up to the mountains or down to the ocean and spend several hours hiking alone or with family. I enjoy spending time with my family, having meals together, going to the movies and watching my children’s soccer and baseball games. I enjoy cooking, going to sporting events and participating in my church congregation. You can find activities that you enjoy and people to enjoy them with.

Look back on the past month and how you spent your time. Ask yourself: How much time did I devote to the occupation and how much time did I spend on myself, with my family and with my friends? Our occupation is a noble occupation, but it is not one that should swallow our entire life or be our entire identity. Make time for the things that matter most and take the time you need to enjoy your life.

Treasurer’s Message

Timothy Davis
PORAC Treasurer

When we began our careers, the last thing on our minds was our retirements. While most of us have adequate pensions that we can rely on to cover our financial needs in our later years, many of us have not considered our medical needs after retirement.  Medical expenses are significant and have been increasing at a considerable rate. Over the last 10 years, the cost of the average employer-sponsored family medical plan has increased by 55%. In 2018, the cost of the average employer-sponsored family medical plan in the United States was nearly $20,000 a year. Rates in California are even higher. In my city, the cost of family medical, dental and vision is nearly $27,000 a year.

Some of us have negotiated employer-paid retiree medical benefits to offset some of our medical premium expenses in retirement. For those who have employer-paid retiree medical contributions, often these contributions fall well short of the expense and fail to keep up with the growth of rates. Additionally, the trend has been for cities and counties to phase out these contributions. In many cases, the burden of covering medical expenses in retirement will fall on the retiree. Those who have not made plans to cover these costs will be forced to reduce their living standards by covering the expenses out of their retirement income.

There are many options active employees have to ensure their medical costs are covered in retirement. Employee groups can continue to attempt to increase and preserve employer-paid retiree medical benefits. In most cases, municipalities and counties classify these types of benefits as unfunded liabilities that affect their credit standing, and therefore local governments attempt to avoid offering these types of benefits. This is why many local governments have been working to phase out medical contributions to retirees. In many cases, retiree medical benefits are not vested and have to be renegotiated in each subsequent labor agreement, which makes the benefit unreliable.

The most secure method to ensure medical security in retirement is to pre-fund a vested benefit during your years as an active employee. There are two types of benefits: defined contributions and defined benefit plans. In a defined contribution plan, an employee and/or their employer make contributions to a retiree medical account. Upon retirement, the employee can use the accrued balance of the account to cover medical expenses during retirement, but once the account is depleted, there is no further benefit. In a defined benefit plan, an employee and/or their employer make contributions to a medical trust or similar entity. Upon retirement, the trust provides a monthly benefit for the life of the retiree. The benefit is based on the monthly contribution level and the length of time the contribution was made during the employee’s career. While both benefit systems provide a retiree with medical coverage in retirement, a defined benefit plan provides lasting security and guarantees a lifetime benefit level for employees.

PORAC established the Retiree Medical Trust (RMT) for PORAC member associations as an important vehicle to ensure medical security for association members in their retirement. While the Trust is the newest of PORAC’s three trusts, it is the fastest-growing. At PORAC’s 2019 Conference of Members, bylaw changes were made to allow associations throughout the nation to join the PORAC RMT, allowing the Trust to continue to expand, which creates even more stability in the plan. The PORAC RMT functions as a tax-free vehicle for employees or employers to make contributions for an employee’s retirement medical needs. Employees earn “units” based on their level and number of monthly contributions during their career, and the units translate into a monthly benefit in retirement.

Under federal law, participation in the PORAC RMT must be through a labor agreement between an association and their employer and must include all members of a bargaining group. If you are approaching labor negotiations, I would encourage you to investigate the PORAC RMT and see for yourself the quality of the benefit offered. Associations should ensure that their members’ retirement medical needs are addressed, and the PORAC RMT offers a simple way of accomplishing those needs.

For more information about the PORAC RMT, visit poracrmt.org.

Treasurer’s Message

Timothy Davis
PORAC Treasurer

The holiday season is a wonderful time of year when families and friends come together to celebrate their beliefs, give thanks, review the year’s highs and lows, and enjoy one another’s company. For law enforcement officers, especially those working shifts that interfere with traditional holiday observances, the holidays can be a time of struggles.

For my first Thanksgiving as a police officer, I was assigned to work day shift. As a young man, I was dismayed to discover that my extended family chose not to entirely reschedule Thanksgiving around my personal schedule. I went to work frustrated and without a plan for dinner. I figured that I would just find a place to eat in my assigned beat.

At roll call, due to my lack of seniority, I was reassigned to a remote portion of the city which had only a few restaurants. I started my shift by looking to see what restaurants were open in the area on Thanksgiving Day. I was disappointed to discover that Jack in the Box was the only restaurant open in the area. I soon got busy with calls, and when I finally arrived at Jack in the Box to enjoy my Thanksgiving banquet, I discovered that they had closed at noon so their employees could enjoy the holiday. That year, my Thanksgiving dinner consisted of an overcooked hot dog and a soda at 7-Eleven, and my holiday company was the clerk, who was also stuck working Thanksgiving afternoon.

Having learned from my Thanksgiving experience, I was able to better plan my first work Christmas experience. On Christmas Day, I was able to sneak home after early morning roll call and join my wife and young kids as they opened their presents. I was also able to make an appearance at my in-laws’ home during Christmas dinner. While these weren’t the optimal ways to experience the holidays with my family, I was able to fit some of the holiday into my work schedule.

Shift work and ridged work schedules can have a negative effect on holiday observances, but with planning and effort we can find ways to observe holidays and spend time with our families and friends. I came to terms with the fact that I could not be at all the traditional family events. I attended the events that I could and accepted that there would be events I could not make it to. Working an evening shift, I could enjoy Christmas morning with my family, but I usually missed out on my extended family’s traditional Christmas Eve dinner. After a time, I found that for some events, my extended family would work to schedule the events at times I could attend. I was grateful for their accommodations.

Winter holidays are not the only holidays that are affected by shift work. I spent most of my career working DUI enforcement in the Traffic Division, and with that assignment there were many holidays during which it was mandatory for me to work nights. I went 16 years in a row working the night of Independence Day. Instead of focusing on my inability to celebrate the evening with my family, we created a tradition of a morning hike and an afternoon of barbecue and swimming at my parents’ pool. I would leave for the celebration in the late afternoon to head into work, and my wife and kids would stay to enjoy fireworks with the family. While I missed 16 years of fireworks with my kids, I was able to find joy and create memories at the events where I was able to join them.

Time with family and friends is critical for our emotional health and wellbeing. Family holiday traditions are also an important foundation for our children as they grow to later raise families of their own. I encourage you to, despite the chaos of police work, find creative ways to build traditions and experiences for yourself and for your families. I wish you all a safe and happy holiday season.

Treasurer’s Message

Timothy Davis
PORAC Treasurer

I know it’s still 2019, but I want to talk about the 2020 elections. When we think of elections and Election Day, we usually think of November and often focus on the presidential elections that come every four years. With the next presidential election a year away, it’s easy to think that we have plenty of time left to get involved in the electoral process and our decisions will be easy to make. But next year’s presidential election is just one of the hundreds of races in the state that will affect law enforcement. Besides the presidential race, there are 53 congressional races, 80 State Assembly races and 20 State Senate races.

Since many of us work for local governments and special districts, we also cannot overlook our local races. In addition to the federal and state races, there are City Council, County Supervisor, School Board and many other local government elections. For municipal police officers and county deputies, these local elections can have a significant impact on law enforcement officers. Local officials set salaries and benefits, direct law enforcement policies, appoint police chiefs and other local administrators, and can affect community relations. The local elected officials who run our local governments can make or break a local law enforcement agency. Poor salaries and benefits, as well as local policies hostile to law enforcement, can significantly affect morale and lead to recruitment and retention problems. It is critical that law enforcement associations be actively involved in local races.

In most years, we have until the June primary to address the litany of political contests facing California voters. This election cycle is different. The state has advanced the primary election to March 3, 2020, instead of the usual June date. This was done so that California can be more relevant in selecting the presidential candidates. The new date also has a significant impact on local elections: It has cut three months off the campaign period for the primary and lengthened the period of time between the primary and the general elections. Those who have not prepared and made adjustments to react to the new date will lose their opportunity to influence important races.

Many of the local elections are on the March ballot and can be resolved if a candidate gets a simple majority. In those cases, there will be no runoff or general election in the fall. Associations and officers who miss participating in the March election could lose their opportunity to have input in selecting their local leaders. State and congressional races will have a primary election where the top two candidates, regardless of party affiliation, will face each other in the November general election.

Often, law enforcement associations can have a significant impact on local elections. PORAC, as a statewide organization, is already actively involved in the state and federal races. PORAC has made several endorsements and will complete its endorsements at our November Board meeting. While PORAC does endorse local candidates, it relies on local associations to interview and vet candidates. Local associations can bring local candidates to their chapters for endorsements. Each chapter of PORAC has access to PAC funds to make contributions to local races when appropriate.

I encourage all members and associations to be active participants in the electoral process. Interview and inform your local candidates. Endorse and support candidates who will advance policies that support law enforcement. Bring those candidates to your local PORAC chapter so that they can receive the support and backing that only PORAC can provide.

Treasurer’s Message

Timothy Davis
PORAC Treasurer

Law enforcement officers are often exposed to events and situations that the human mind is not made to process. Most officers can name at least one call that changed them, a call that they still can see clearly in their mind, a call that will forever impact them. Unfortunately, some officers have several of these calls still playing inside their head. My call occurred around midnight in the early morning hours of a Sunday in the fall of 2001. While the details of that night are not critical to my message here, I can tell you that the images and feelings I had that morning are forever burned into my mind. I was just over two years out of the police academy, and while I had been to several murder scenes prior to that, this one impacted me in a way I was not prepared for. Despite having discovered this grisly crime scene at the end of my shift, I remained on scene until the sun came up in the morning. I returned to the station to complete my reports and then went home in the mid-morning hours.

While at work, I was able to hold in my emotions through my discovery of the scene, the response of my fellow officers, the processing of the scene and my report writing. I was not, however, able to hold in my emotions when I returned home. As I walked into my bedroom that Sunday morning and saw my wife and my young children, I burst into tears. I cried for what seemed like an eternity. My wife, not knowing what I had experienced that night, did her best to comfort me. I hugged her and tried to tell her what I had experienced. I could not speak. No words would come. Eventually, my exhaustion got the best of me and I fell asleep.

I woke up a few hours later and headed back to work. While my department has a robust peer support system today, those protections were not in place back then. When I arrived at work, I was given an assignment and headed out to handle my beat. I was not in an emotional condition where I should be back at work, and I was unable to focus on my responsibilities. No one checked on me, and I was afraid to ask for assistance. I remember thinking that I should not be at work, but I also felt a duty to be there.

I received an assignment to look for a car that the suspect from that morning’s event had used. I remember arriving in the area to search for the car. The next thing I remember was being in a different part of the city several miles away. I had obviously driven there, but I had no memory of doing so.  That was enough for me to summon my strength and get help. I drove back to the station and told my sergeant I was struggling to cope with the call from my previous shift. I was scared that he would call me a wimp or a baby and tell me to get back out and do my job. What actually happened surprised me. He wasn’t angry. Instead, he was very supportive. He hadn’t worked the night before and didn’t know my involvement in the call. He apologized for assigning me to look for the car. He made sure I was OK and let me go home. I was very thankful for his caring response.

I didn’t get over that call that night. I spent years thinking about that call. I questioned my actions that night. Could I have saved them? Could I have died? Could I have saved his later victims? For years working the same beat, I found myself driving past the location and had the memories come back. I found myself taking the long way to calls just to avoid driving past it. Eventually, my mind got better, but even now, over 18 years later, the images and experiences of that night are burned into my mind. What once haunted me daily is now just a clear memory that surfaces on occasion.

Many if not most of you have your own call that haunts you. Some of you may be in the early stages in which you cannot get the images out of your mind. Some of you are like me and they are a distant but clear memory. The point  I want to make is that there is a recovery and there is help. I was lucky to have my wife, who has always been my support. We all need to have people to talk to. If you are struggling, there are people who stand to support you. It is important that we recognize we need help and that we reach out for it. Talk to your co-workers, your peer support, a professional counselor and especially your family. Reach out and get the help you need to recover from your experience. It is normal and expected that officers will struggle after experiencing a traumatic call, and it is normal to need help.

There are many who struggle through their experiences and need our help to get them through it. We need to keep an eye out for our partners who are struggling. Whether they’re struggling with coping or with substance abuse that can follow a traumatic call, we need to be strong enough and love them enough to ensure we help them get the assistance they need. Far too often, we hear tragic stories of officers not recovering from their traumatic experiences and careers ending with substance abuse or, even worse, officers taking their own life. We cannot let that happen. If you are the one struggling, your brothers and sisters are here to help you if you reach out. If you see your partner struggling, be brave and have the tough conversation with them that can save their life and get them back on track.

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.