CHAPTER PROFILE: NORTHERN CHAPTER

A Focus on Negotiations and Recovery From the Wildfires

To help you learn more about where and who your fellow members are, in each issue of PORAC Law Enforcement News we’ll profile one of the 14 chapters up and down the state. We hope that reading about each chapter’s challenges and achievements will bring us all closer together and inspire you, your association and your own chapter as you navigate the road ahead. This month, we start with the Northern Chapter.

Labor negotiations are top of mind for the Northern Chapter. “For most agencies in our current environment, [the priority] is keeping the benefits we have,” says Ron Jacobson, chapter president.

That challenge is easier to meet with the help of other agencies.

“We get together and look at ‘What is everybody else getting? What is your city council and board of supervisors doing with negotiations and how can we either do that or not do that and go with different models to help in the negotiations?’ That’s the biggest thing we’re dealing with right now, just figuring out where everybody’s at, what they’re looking for and where we’re going,” he says.

For instance, the financial market is up, the local real estate market has started to slow and that the Federal Reserve is going to raise rates three times in 2018, Jacobson notes. “What is that going to do to the economy? We’re looking at the global economy, just like everyone else.

“We don’t just sit down and go, ‘OK, I want a 5% to 10% raise a year.’ It doesn’t work like that. There’s a cost factor, and we understand there’s a cost to doing business. Where can we negotiate things that benefit both sides?”

In addition, the public has to agree with the outcome, he says. It has to be reasonable and good for both sides because “the public looks bad on us — ‘You guys are money hungry.’”

“Meeting with our members quarterly gives me the opportunity to speak with other associations who may be facing the same issues,” Jacobson says.

Not only do agencies collaborate on negotiations and discipline but on casework, too. “With freeways, everything is kind of intertwined; we can be looking for the same group of suspects. It’s networking for doing the job that we do,” he says.

During the Sonoma and Napa county wildfires last fall, the Sonoma County Deputy Sheriffs’ Association served meals at its union hall to the officers who worked the line or prevented looting.

Pulling Together During
the Wildfires

Last year’s wildfires in Napa and Sonoma counties were “devastating to our chapter,” Jacobson says. “There were whole neighborhoods gone in a matter of a day. We lost 80-some homes between police officers, deputy sheriffs, corrections and RAM members in that area. Our July and October meetings were pretty emotional with what was going on, with the amount of time these guys worked for days on end without a break because of the fires, trying to protect the community and firefighters.”

 During the wildfires, “everyone was scattered throughout the region to help out as much as we could,” he says. “Sonoma DSA served thousands of meals from their union hall to law enforcement and firefighters 24 hours a day while the fires were burning. Guys who were off duty would volunteer and come in and help serve meals to the guys who were working the line. We also had some Marin County deputies who came up to Sonoma County to help work and serve.”

PORAC and CAHP Credit Union also helped with fire and recovery. CAHP provided aid and set up the donation page for the PORAC/POREF Wildfire Relief Fund, which “was giving funds out to help people who had lost their homes and such,” Jacobson says. “California Casualty — one of the insurance companies that works with PORAC members — was literally out there and was disbursing funds to members within hours of them filing claims, helping people get back on their feet. California Casualty was a huge part of starting the recovery process once these fires were contained,” he adds.

Jacobson has been a member of PORAC since 1999. Six years ago, he “was asked to run for the Solano County VP position. And when our last president retired in 2016, I took over last year,” he says. What does he want to accomplish? Get “the smaller agencies within our chapter to be more active, to come to all events and chapter meetings,” he says.

It is at those chapter meetings that Jacobson appreciates the presence of PORAC leadership. It “provides us the opportunity to ask questions and get answers firsthand from them. It’s also a benefit to hear about the status of bills at the state capitol when they attend meetings. They’re walking the halls every day and working for us at different levels of the state.”

“With the evolving role of law enforcement and the perception of law enforcement in the news, it’s nice to have PORAC being our voice at the state capitol as well as in the media defending us,” Jacobson says.

Leadership

President: Ron Jacobson
Director: Sean McKrell
Solano VP: Mike Nichelini
Marin VP: Carl Huber
Napa VP: Jon Thompson
Sonoma VP: Cecile Focha
Secretary: Carl Heiser
Treasurer: Rick Walker

Number of members

2,825

Coverage area

Solano, Napa, Marin and Sonoma counties

CHAPTER PROFILE: BAY AREA CHAPTER

Focusing on the Critical Election Year

To help you learn more about where and who your fellow members are, in each issue of PORAC Law Enforcement News we’ll profile one of the 14 chapters up and down the state. We hope that reading about each chapter’s challenges and achievements will bring us all closer together and inspire you, your association and your own chapter as you navigate the road ahead. This month, we feature the Bay Area Chapter.

For the Bay Area Chapter, the focus this year has been on leadership — both within the chapter and in the political arena.

“The chapter is in the process of leadership transition,” says Jason Wentz, who became chapter president in January after the previous president took on a more active at-large director position in PORAC. “I was nominated by the president of my POA (Richmond Police Officers Association) after being asked to run by several members of the chapter.” So, at the urging of many, he ran unopposed and was elected by acclamation.

“Any transition is challenging,” but the chapter has been fortunate because both incoming and outgoing leadership holders are tenured and veteran association leaders, says Wentz, a PORAC member of more than 24 years. This has made for a smooth transition, allowing the chapter to focus on the critical election year.

Located at the heart of the San Francisco Bay Area, the chapter is the largest in the state and has the most at-large PORAC Board members, making its sphere of influence significant, especially when it comes to endorsing pro-law-enforcement candidates and lobbying for legislation that aligns with PORAC’s goals.

“At recent chapter meetings, dealing with endorsements has been our major focus and task,” says Wentz. The chapter has been very active in the campaigns of several crucial political positions, including two district attorney races and several state positions in its coverage area, which encompasses Alameda, Contra Costa, San Francisco and San Mateo counties.

“In addition, a number of legislative bills PORAC is supporting or opposing this year originated with legislators from our area, so that means much lobbying by all our association leaders,” says Wentz. High-priority opposed bills that have originated in the Bay Area include AB 748 on Disclosure of Video and Audio Recordings: Peace Officers by Assembly Member Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), and SB 1421 on Criminal Procedure and Sentencing by Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley).

This level of political advocacy is a testament to the chapter’s high level of engagement, which is what Wentz believes makes the Bay Area stand out. “We have a very active chapter,” he says. “Our meetings are well attended, and our large number of represented members and associations means we get a broad view of the labor issues facing California law enforcement.”

Chapter meetings are vital because they are a way for members to reach statewide leaders and effect changes in policy, Wentz says. “Input at chapter meetings converts directly, for us anyway, to legislation and policy decisions for PORAC at large.”

He stresses that because of this, chapter participation is extremely important: “PORAC is its members, and the chapter is the local vehicle for member engagement and information sharing. On a statewide level, PORAC sometimes takes full pieces of legislation from chapters, so if a local association is not involved in chapter meetings and activities, it limits their external effectiveness and limits their voice on statewide issues.”

Wentz, who also serves as vice president of the Richmond POA, enjoys seeing all the hard work put in by members of the chapter. “I like to think that our chapter sets the standard for strong leadership and involvement,” he says. “As one of the original chapters in PORAC, we have had seven PORAC presidents from the chapter, our board has a low turnover of directors and we are often looked upon as leaders who can provide institutional knowledge due to our experience and tenure.”  

Reflecting on the importance of PORAC as a whole, Wentz says that the organization “is the vehicle for statewide advocacy, and without it, statewide attacks on law enforcement would be out of control.”

Leadership

President: Jason Wentz
Vice President: Glen Robbins
Secretary: Erinn Riley
Treasurer: Don Mattison
Directors: Joey Schlemmer (IBT Trustee), Matt Avery, Chris Spencer
PORAC Director: Ben Therriault
PORAC Directors-at-Large: Barry Donelan (Executive Committee), Doug Knittel, Kenneth Lomba, Shawn Welch
LDF Trustee: DJ Wozniak 

Number of members

9,110

Coverage area

Alameda, Contra Costa, San Francisco and San Mateo counties