Steptoe & Johnson LLP
This October 23–24, the PORAC Executive Board, led by President Brian Marvel and Vice President Damon Kurtz, brought the voice of California law enforcement to Washington, meeting with senators, representatives and committees to convey the needs of peace officers across the state.
In total, PORAC met with 31 different offices from every corner of the state of California, as well as several Senate and House committees that handle the issues that matter to PORAC members. A complete list is below.
|Rep. Devin Nunes (R–22)|
Rep. Mike Levin (D–49)
Rep. Josh Harder (D–10)
Rep. Paul Cook (R–8)
Rep. Lou Correa (D–46)
Rep. Norma Torres (D–35)
Rep. Eric Swalwell (D–15)
Rep. Julia Brownley (D–26)
Rep. Grace Napolitano (D–32)
|Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R–23)|
Rep. John Garamendi (D–3)
Rep. Jim Costa (D–16)
Rep. Salud Carbajal (D–24)
Rep. Katie Hill (D–25)
Rep. Ken Calvert (R–42)
Rep. Jerry McNerney (D–9)
Rep. Tom McClintock (R–4)
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D)
Sen. Kamala Harris (D)
|Rep. Scott Peters (D–52)|
Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D–19)
Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R–1)
Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (D–11)
Rep. Katie Porter (D–45)
Rep. Ro Khanna (D–17)
Rep. Juan Vargas (D–51)
|Senate Finance Committee –|
Senate Finance Committee –
Senate Judiciary Committee –
House Committee on Ways
House Judiciary Committee –
Through the course of these meetings, PORAC focused on five key issues that affect the everyday lives of law enforcement officers.
Funding for Federal Law Enforcement Grants
Law enforcement across the country relies on grants from the federal government, administered by the Department of Justice, to keep communities safe. While in Washington, PORAC stressed to members of both parties and both chambers the need to maximize that funding.
Opposing a Change in the
Currently, under federal law, a police officer is allowed to use deadly force if that force is “reasonable” in light of fear of death or serious bodily harm to the officer or another person. H.R. 4359, introduced by Representative Ro Khanna (D–17), would change that standard to only permit a police officer to use deadly force when it is “necessary” and a last resort. This creates a highly subjective hindsight standard for evaluating and holding officers criminally liable for using force when responding to split-second, life-or-death situations.
PORAC has been vocal about its opposition to this bill, which will negatively impact community safety in California by creating a potentially devastating hesitation in officers. During the October fly-in, PORAC directly asked representatives and senators to oppose this legislation and instead work with PORAC to proactively address this complex issue.
Pension Reform Efforts
Workers who split their careers between jobs that require contributions to Social Security and jobs that do not, usually state or local public service jobs like law enforcement, have their Social Security benefit reduced when they reach retirement due to the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP).
While there are multiple legislative solutions being discussed, including the PORAC-supported Social Security Fairness Act, much of PORAC’s time was spent discussing H.R. 4540, the Public Servants Protection and Fairness Act.
H.R. 4540 seeks to fix the WEP by introducing a new proportional formula designed to ensure public employees receive the benefit to which they are entitled, while also attempting to ensure that no Social Security beneficiary receives an unfair amount of benefit. The bill also includes a provision ensuring that no current or future retiree will be worse off than he or she is presently.
After meeting with the House Committee on Ways and Means, the PORAC Executive Committee voted unanimously to endorse H.R. 4540.
Supporting the Improving Community Safety Task Force Act
Facing a rising tide of violence directed as police, PORAC has worked with Representative Lou Correa (D–46) on the Improving Community Safety Task Force Act. The bill would direct the Department of Justice to convene a task force of law enforcement representatives, community members and policy experts to study incidents where law enforcement officers and other first responders are attacked and incidents involving use of deadly force by law enforcement. This task force would provide recommendations on strategies and policy changes aimed at lessening the frequency of those incidents and enhancing community safety.
The Improving Community Safety Task Force Act will contribute to the safety of law enforcement officers and community members. During the October fly-in, PORAC urged members to cosponsor the legislation.
Protecting the Lives of Peace Officers
In addition to pushing the Improving Community Safety Task Force Act, PORAC has endorsed S. 1480, the Back the Blue Act, in an effort to reduce instances of violence against police.
The Back the Blue Act sends a strong message that there will be no tolerance for any act of violence against a law enforcement officer. It creates a new federal crime for killing, attempting to kill or conspiring to kill a federal judge, federal law enforcement officer, or federally funded public safety officer. Additionally, S. 1480 expands the availability of certain grant funding to improve law enforcement-community relations.
PORAC urged both California senators to cosponsor the legislation while discussing with representatives the possibility for the introduction of an identical bill in the House.