Treasurer’s Message

Timothy Davis
PORAC Treasurer

When I started as a police officer in 1998, I remember senior officers telling me not to carry my baton because of the backlash against batons after the Rodney King incident.  While that incident occurred in 1991, the effects could still be felt in Sacramento, seven years later and 400 miles away. Police incidents around the nation are constantly molding our departments, their policies and the way we do our job. As law enforcement officers, the effect of societal pressures on our occupation often lands at our feet in the form of changes to our role as an officer, the rules or policies we are governed by and the tools we are given to do our job.

Changes seem to come in bursts, and there was a large burst that came at the beginning of my career. I remember being questioned back in 1998 by senior officers who were curious about why anyone would want to be an officer anymore, considering all the changes that were occurring in police work. As a new rookie officer, I was happy to be an officer, and I did not see any of the changes as obstacles.

Constant change has been a hallmark of my career as a law enforcement officer. In my first five years on the job, I experienced many changes. Our cars were equipped with in-car cameras (of the VHS tape type), we were required to collect traffic stop data on scantron forms for a racial profiling study, our wood batons were replaced with less visible metal collapsible batons, and we were issued tasers. In addition to equipment changes, we saw changes to our department policies, including changes to the use-of-force policy and the force reporting process, as well as more stringent controls over vehicle pursuits. Most significantly, a civilian oversight monitor was added. While there was a lot of complaining and pushback by the senior officers of the time, I remember thinking that the changes we were experiencing would not affect my enthusiasm for my newly chosen career. As a young, new officer, I was flexible and not yet set in my ways.  I was able to make the adjustments required to adapt to these changed policies and new equipment.

As my career advanced and I became more comfortable in my role as an officer, I also became more set in my ways and less flexible to change. The first time I remember feeling the desire to avoid a department change was when the department rolled out its computer-based report system. I had learned to write all my reports by hand, and I was not overly thrilled about writing reports on a computer. It was not an issue of computer literacy. It was about being told that I had to change something significant about my job. We write many reports, and I did not want to change something that I was comfortable with. Even after the change, I continued to write my reports by hand for another year until I was personally ordered by a supervisor to stop doing hand reports and use the electronic system.

As I have gotten older and more set in my ways, each new change has been more difficult for me to accept and adapt to. Now, after 22 years with the Sacramento Police Department, we have again seen incredibly significant changes to our department equipment and policies. Over the last few years, we have seen the addition of body cameras, less-lethal weapon systems and video releases, as well as changes to our oversite system and our use-of-force policies. I am now hearing again the same questions I was asked at the beginning of my career. The difference now is that it is my generation of officers asking our new officers why anyone would want to be an officer anymore, considering all the changes that are occurring in police work. I’m sure this generation’s answer is just like mine was 22 years ago. They are here to serve the community the best they can.

Change has always been a consistent process in our careers. We have evolved from the gumdrop lights on the top of the 1950s police car to the LED strobe light of our modern cars. We have evolved from call boxes to GPS-enabled digital radios and computerized dispatch. The roles, rules and tools of our profession will always be evolving, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse, but always forward. One thing is for sure — things will always change. We have the ability to adapt to these changes, but it is through our commitment to serving our communities that we will get there.

Treasurer’s Message

Timothy Davis
PORAC Treasurer

With all the craziness we have faced this year, I bet many of you have been looking at the calendar to see how soon you can retire. I have seen some officers with apps on their phones that count down the days until the day they have planned for their retirement. Often, officers have two dates in mind: the earliest day they can collect their retirement and the day they reach their maximum retirement benefit. I like to call the period between these two dates the retirement window. The point we actually retire within that window depends on many personal factors.

With the chaos in our world and the direct impact that chaos has on our occupation, it is understandable that many officers, especially those who are already in that window, are now reassessing their retirement plans. While some officers would like the flexibility to leave at the earliest possible date, significant financial obligations eliminate this flexibility and can bind an officer to the job past the point they would prefer to retire.

The key to retirement flexibility is planning for retirement and being responsible with our current finances. As active employees, our income is composed principally of our base pay and our overtime. When overtime is plentiful and regular, it is easy to expand our expenses to the point that we rely on our overtime to meet our monthly obligations.  This can create a significant obstacle to our ability to retire. Only by adjusting our expenses to match our income can we prepare ourselves for retirement.

When entering retirement, an employee needs to be prepared for more than just a reduction in their base income. There are many collateral reductions an officer needs to be prepared for. For an employee who is going to receive a 90% pension, it might be easy to think that you are only going to experience a 10% income reduction in retirement. An officer does not just need to be prepared for the reduction in their base pay, they need to realize that additionally, they will lose any overtime income they are used to and any other non-pensionable pay. Also, and quite significantly, often officers lose their health-care contributions. For an employee with dependents, the cost of traditional HMO coverage could easily be more than $2,000 per month.

There are two main ways an officer can prepare for the reductions in their income that come with retirement: reducing their monthly expenses and using savings and investments to offset the reduced income. It is not unusual for debt payments and mortgage payments to be a significant portion of an officer’s monthly expenditures.  Creating a debt or mortgage repayment schedule where you eliminate your debt and pay off your mortgage prior to entering your retirement window can significantly reduce your monthly obligations and prepare you for a reduced retirement income. Savings, especially deferred-compensation plans, give you the ability to save money for retirement that you can use to offset your reduced income.

Negotiating for retirement medical benefits is also a significant need. Employer-paid lifetime medical benefits are the gold standard, but this benefit has become extremely expensive for employers and is nearly impossible to negotiate as a new benefit. More common are retirement health savings plans like the PORAC Retiree Medical Trust. If your association has not negotiated a retirement medical benefit, this should be a priority for future negotiations.

The earlier you prepare for retirement by living within your income, not relying on overtime to cover your expenses, managing your debt and mortgage, saving and contributing to deferred comp, and participating in a retirement medical benefit, the more flexibility you will have when you enter your retirement window and the more flexibility you will have to choose the retirement date that works best for you. 

Treasurer’s Message

Timothy Davis
PORAC Treasurer

There has been a push by some anti-police groups to either disband or defund the police. Often, those pushing for this radical agenda do so out of an unfair hatred of the police. Others do it out of a desire for anarchy or to overturn our capitalist society and the rule of law. This is a huge step further than the police reform movement we have witnessed in the past.

Over the past several years, we have felt intense pressure to “reform” policing in America. Often, the reforms advocated are not well thought out and would make both our communities and our police less safe by placing dangerous and unrealistic burdens on law enforcement officers. Following every high-profile event, we have seen a new demand for police to make additional concessions, often in the areas of officer safety and due process rights. Removing these existing rights would prevent officers from thoroughly safeguarding our communities while also protecting our safety. Often the concessions are forced on law enforcement agencies by pandering politicians in order to appease a loud but very small segment of our community.

Frequently, police management and labor groups are asked to meet with anti-police activists who are demanding these concessions, with a hope of finding a middle ground. I have found, through my experience, that often there is no middle ground. It is impossible to find a set of policing policies that will appease a group that demands that police no longer exist. While we have seen occasions when departments and activists can agree to a set of policy changes, there always seem to be new demands each time a new police-related event occurs somewhere else in the country.

Fortunately, some policymakers have their heads rooted in reality. We learned this in the debate over the use-of-force standard in California. What was originally floated by anti-police groups was later mitigated by more level-headed policymakers, resulting in a new policy that was only slightly more restrictive than the existing standard. Unfortunately, that is not the end of the debate. Each new high-profile event spurs a new demand for even further concessions. We must remember that for some, the ultimate goal is a world with no police.

Our communities yearn for the safety that is provided by our brave law enforcement officers. Communities across the nation have seen surges in violent crimes take root in the chaos of the last few months. In Sacramento, a gang war emerged out of a law enforcement vacuum that occurred as police resources were pulled from their normal duties and dedicated to responding to riotous protests. In the month since the protests began, Sacramento has seen a 183% increase in shootings over the same period last year. This story has been repeated in many other communities throughout the state and around the nation. Caught in the crossfire, several children become victims of these shootings, yet the spike in crime has gone largely unreported in local media.

I cannot predict what the next wave of demands on law enforcement will entail, but we have already seen some rapid changes. While the events in Minnesota had nothing to do with the carotid restraint, departments across the state have been quick to ban the tool. We have also heard demands to end the use of less-lethal munitions, tear gas, pepper spray, tasers, batons and police canines. Removing less-lethal options will increase the likelihood of officers using deadly force in dangerous situations. If we want our officers to be less likely to use deadly force, we need to give them more tools, not fewer.

While we have not seen a huge push in California to disband municipal police departments, there is a huge push to ban campus police, including both school police departments and school resource officers. Our school police officers are an important tool to keep our vulnerable children safe from both internal and external threats. Additionally, having law enforcement on campus can create important connections between officers and students. As police mentor and serve as positive role models for young people, these relationships can help establish positive links between officers and the communities they serve.

We have also heard demands to move the responsibility for responding to calls involving individuals in mental health crisis and the homeless from police officers to newly hired social workers. The funding for these social workers would come from a corresponding defunding of police departments. These types of calls for service can be among the most dangerous and difficult ones that officers handle. While many officers might agree that much more needs to be done to better serve community members in crisis, the problem does not rest with the police officers who respond, but with what services are available. Officers desperately want to help those in crisis receive the help they need to make permanent life changes, but sadly, due to lack of community services, our officers are only able to temporarily resolve situations that are bound to flare back up once they leave. The issue clearly is not about who we send, but what long-term services are available.

Demands to move these calls from officers to social workers clearly reflect a lack of understanding about the underlying issues. Those in crisis need more services, not fewer. Taking the responsibility away from police officers and giving it to social workers will not solve anything. We need a partnership between law enforcement and social workers, as well as triage centers and long-term services to make a meaningful difference in people’s lives. Without adding long-term care in the areas of mental health, addiction, substance abuse, housing, education and job training, the cycle of calls for service will continue to repeat, no matter who you send to handle them.

PORAC is actively working to protect police officers from the onslaught of half-baked ideas and dangerous policy change proposals. We have already seen many demands and expect to see many more. PORAC is helping our elected officials understand the reasons why we have officers, why they have the tools they have and why they deserve the rights they have. It is important that we show them the logic behind our law enforcement tools, policies and procedures, and not just ride the emotional demands for change projected by a small but vocal group.

Treasurer’s Message

Timothy Davis
PORAC Treasurer

Hopefully, most of us are accustomed to using budgets to guide us in our personal finances. A budget is an important tool for us to manage our money. A personal or family budget is a fundamental part of good financial management. Our budgets should reflect our goals and priorities. Our budgets should also reflect our best estimate of our projected income and how we plan to expend our income. Our expenses can usually be divided into fixed expenses, and those expenses that change from month to month. Our expenses should also align with our goals and priorities. Our budgets should be flexible enough to adjust to changes that can occur during the year. When significant changes occur to our financial situation, we need to take the time to reevaluate our budget, as well as our goals and priorities.

A budget is not just for our families and personal lives. PORAC and each of our local associations operate on a budget. The annual process of creating our association budget is an important and critical part of achieving the missions, goals and priorities of our organization. PORAC’s budget process begins long before the Annual Conference of Members each November; it begins at the start of each year and continues throughout the spring, summer and fall. Committees and the Board of Directors spend the majority of the year working through draft budgets before finally presenting them to the membership. Your local association budget should go through an equally rigorous process. The Board should start the process by setting the association’s goals and priorities. A budget or finance committee should use those goals and priorities, along with historical expenses and anticipated changes, to create a draft budget to be presented to the full Board of Directors for review. If additional changes are needed, they can be made at that time. Eventually, a finished product is ready for implementation.

Once a budget is approved and put into place, the process is not complete. Our budgets are living documents that should be constantly reviewed and even changed when needed. Over the past few months, a lot has changed in the world. Now is the time for us to assess those changes and the impacts it will have on our personal and association budgets. 

In our personal lives, we may have seen changes in our monthly incomes. For some, that might be an increase associated with additional overtime opportunities. For others, it might be a decrease in income as departments cut back on overtime, and perhaps even furlough or lay off employees. We may also have seen a loss in family income as our spouse’s income is negatively affected by business closures. We also need to review our expenses. We may have seen increases or decreases in expenses associated with closures and changes to our work schedules and our children’s school schedules. Take time to review these changes in income and expenses and make sure you are using your financial resources in ways that match your family’s goals and needs. If you are fortunate to be seeing an increase in income, realize that it is likely short-lived and take this opportunity to save some or all of that increase to protect your family against any economic downturns that may occur.

The same steps should be taken by your association. If you are in a leadership role in your association, now is the time to be checking and reviewing your association’s budget. Consider how changes in your city or county’s budget may affect staffing and how those changes could affect your association’s dues income. Will your association members have a greater need for association services this year as a result of a changing world? Have your association’s priorities changed? Is there a greater need to focus on member wellness, including both their physical and mental health? Once your association has reassessed these impacts and changed its goals, make the changes you need to make to your budgets.

A budget is important to keep your association on track. It is not a document to review just once a year. Make it a habit to know your budgets and make the changes needed to adjust to life changes that can occur. 

Treasurer’s Message

Timothy Davis
PORAC Treasurer

In May of each year, we honor our fallen officers. While this year’s ceremonies have been postponed or changed, we can still celebrate and honor the lives and sacrifices of our fallen officers in many ways. Even during this pandemic, with its required social distancing and stay-at-home orders, we can find ways to remember and honor those who gave their lives in service to their communities. While I am saddened by the fact that we will not be able to participate in the formal and magnificent ceremonies that we have become accustomed to, I encourage all of us to find ways to remember and honor our fallen this month.

The California Peace Officers’ Memorial Foundation (CPOMF) holds ceremonies in Sacramento each May to honor our state’s fallen officers. This year, CPOMF had scheduled to hold the Candlelight Vigil on Sunday, May 3, and the annual Enrollment Ceremony on Monday, May 4. The officers who were to be honored at the memorial were:

  • Officer Natalie Corona of the Davis Police Department
  • Sergeant Steve Licon of the California Highway Patrol, Riverside Area
  • Officer Tara O’Sullivan of the Sacramento Police Department
  • Officer Andre Moye Jr. of the California Highway Patrol, Riverside Area
  • Deputy Brian Ishmael of the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office
  • Correctional Officer Armando Gallegos Jr. of the CA Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
  • Officer Toshio Hirai of the Gardena Police Department

The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial ceremonies were scheduled to take place during National Police Week, May 10 through 16. A Candlelight Vigil was to be held on Wednesday, May 13, and the annual Memorial Service on Friday, May 15, to honor 307 fallen officers from across the country. A national virtual Candlelight Vigil and reading of the names that will be added to the memorial this year will still be held online on May 13.

Despite our social-distancing requirements and stay-at-home orders, there are many ways we can still honor our fallen. This May, especially on the days these memorial events were to be held, we can use our personal, association and department social media platforms to create posts and messages honoring our fallen officers. We can remember our fallen officers, their families, friends and co-workers in our prayers. We can wear black bands over our badges, pins on our uniforms and wristbands with the names of our fallen. We can decorate our spaces with blue and the “thin blue line” flag. We can take time to remember our fallen officers during our department briefings, meetings and events. In circumstances where we have personal relationships with a survivor, and when appropriate, we can reach out to them this month. We can make donations to our local, state and national memorials. We can fulfill our duties and serve our communities in ways that honor the memories of our fallen brothers and sisters.

In addition to remembering and honoring our fallen this year in our own ways, we will still formally honor those officers we lost in 2019. While the California Peace Officers’ Memorial Ceremony that was originally scheduled for May 4 has been canceled, we will honor the fallen from 2019 during next year’s ceremony in May 2021. Many local memorials will hold ceremonies later this year or as part of next year’s ceremonies.

This year, May has a special meaning for me, my department and my community. Officer Tara O’Sullivan was a special member of my department, the Sacramento Police Department, and her loss deeply affected me, my department and the members of the Sacramento community. Our greater Sacramento area also lost Officer Natalie Corona of the Davis Police Department and Deputy Brian Ishmael of the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office. I will honor these officers and all others who gave their lives in service of their communities this May, and I ask that you find ways to join me. 

Treasurer’s Message

Timothy Davis
PORAC Treasurer

I am writing my monthly article while we are in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis. Many people are getting sick and some are dying. Families have been told to shelter in place.  The stock market has tanked. Store shelves are empty. Congress is working to pass a stimulus package. Doctors are studying ways to treat patients. Scientists are working toward a cure.

There are many questions in my mind. Will someone I know die from this? Will my family or I get sick? Will the economy recover? When will life return to normal? I hope that by the time you read this I will have discovered that all my family and friends have stayed safe, that a vaccine is on its way and that the stock market is on its way to a solid recovery.

Last week my county decided to give a stay-at-home/shelter-in-place order, which was followed by a similar statewide order. While I knew that this crisis was on the horizon, this was the first time I realized the gravity of the situation we faced. The city manager called me to discuss the order before it went public. He talked to me about “nonessential” city employees being sent home. As we talked, he quickly realized that none of the members of my local association fit this description. The police officers, sergeants, dispatchers, park rangers and community service officers I represent are all essential employees and will be required to stay on the front lines of this emergency. We talked about ensuring their safety while they worked. This was the first of many discussions with members of my city’s and my department’s leadership teams about ways to keep my membership safe while they serve their community during this crisis.

By the next morning, the city looked like a ghost town as most obeyed the stay-at-home order. While many people in our community were able to stay home with their families and work from home, our law enforcement officers continued to report to work and serve their community. We were not alone in the essential nature of our occupation.  Other first responders and medical personnel also were required to report to work. My wife, who works as a nurse, reported to work that day and was assigned three COVID-19 patients to care for. As my wife and I worked, our kids remained home, as the schools have all closed.

During this difficult time, PORAC is here to help support you and your family so that you can focus on doing your job safely. I want to let you know that from the beginning, PORAC has been working on important COVID-19-related issues important to you. We want to let you know that you can focus on doing your job safely and ensuring your family’s safety while PORAC works hard for you. Your PORAC leadership team has created a list of legislative priorities related to COVID-19 and has already began to have virtual town hall meetings with law enforcement leaders and elected officials. During PORAC’s first meetings, we requested legislation and policies to ensure that: 1) our law enforcement officers have the protective equipment that they need; 2) law enforcement officers who are exposed or suspect COVID-like medical symptoms get expedited testing; 3) COVID-19 be added as a workers’ compensation presumption; 4) infected officers be given safe shelter so that they won’t infect their families and loved ones; and 5) law enforcement officers be among the first to be immunized when a vaccine is created. PORAC will continue to advocate for policies and legislation that benefit and protect our officers.

I also want to remind you about PORAC’s Hazardous Exposure Listing Program (HELP). The HELP system is a log where you can track any exposures you experience during your career. I would encourage you to log any COVID-19 exposures in PORAC’s HELP system. You can find the link to the HELP system on PORAC’s COVID-19 webpage- https://porac.org/covid19/.

Treasurer’s Message

Timothy Davis
PORAC Treasurer

One lesson I wish I would have learned earlier in my life is to do a better job of living within my own means. One law of finance seems to be that your expenses will always grow to match or exceed your income. As a young father and officer, it seemed that every time I received a raise, my expenses would grow to exceed it. It wasn’t that my expenses grew without my control; I allowed them to grow. Often, I let them grow not when I got a raise, but in anticipation of one. We all know that we often overcalculate the take-home aspect of an anticipated raise. When we pre-commit our new income before it materializes in our paycheck, we can leave our family budgets out of balance, introducing debt and sometimes even ruin to our family’s finances.

Debt is a big issue that can affect us during our lives. Once we incur debt, it becomes difficult to get out of. Income spent on debt service is income that is not available for other purposes. Sometimes there is no other choice but to incur debt in our lives, but debt should only be incurred for our needs and not for our wants. Things like an affordable home and a practical car are things we can expect to buy on credit. These are needed items and can often be purchased on credit with low-interest rates. Purchasing wants on credit often comes with the attachment of high-interest rates. Forcing ourselves to save for our wants allows us to enjoy them without being bound by the chains of debt. Debt, and its powerful ally, interest, can cause us to pay much more for our purchases than we originally anticipated.

New officers beginning their careers usually start at salaries lower than their more senior co-workers. These new officers see the fancy cars, trucks, boats and RVs of the older, more senior officers. They hear about their vacations and lifestyles. Often, these new officers, with jealous eyes, fail to evaluate how these more senior officers achieved their current lifestyles. These officers spent years acquiring things, facilitated by higher pay, hard work and, in some cases, savings, and in others, debt. New officers sometimes try to go straight to these more lavish lifestyles without putting in the time, work and savings required to achieve them. They fill their garages with these unneeded toys at the cost of debt they cannot afford.

Creating a savings regimen will give you the surety you and your family deserve to ensure that all your needs are met. Additionally, savings will provide you with money to cover your prudent wants when they surface. Saving for a vacation or other desired item will allow you to pay cash and avoid debt. When you receive your periodic raises, I would encourage you to dedicate a portion of your raise to savings to build your reserves and allow you to pay cash for your future wants.

I made the mistake as a young married man to try and have the lifestyle that my parents had spent decades to achieve. Their lifestyle was impossible for me to achieve on my income. I learned some difficult lessons as a younger man as I took advantage of credit extended to me in my quest to keep up with the lifestyle of others when I did not have their matching income. Overcoming debt is a long process, one that can be avoided with prudent choices earlier in life. I would encourage you to follow some simple rules that I have learned in my life:

  1. Ask yourself if something is a want or a need. Focus on your needs before your wants.
  2. Don’t purchase wants with credit.
  3. Don’t commit the income from your future raises until you have received them and know how they will affect your take-home pay.
  4. Don’t depend on overtime to balance your budget.
  5. Dedicate a portion of each raise to your savings.

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.