CHAPTER PROFILE: TRI-COUNTIES CHAPTER

Coming Together to Serve

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 Tri-Counties Chapter.

Devastating and destructive events marred the latter part of 2018 for the Tri-Counties Chapter. On November 8, Ventura County Sheriff’s Sergeant Ron Helus was killed in the line of duty while responding to an active shooter incident at the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks. Later that same day in nearby Simi Valley, the Woolsey Fire erupted and quickly spread to more than 96,000 acres, killing three people and destroying 1,600 structures before it was contained on November 21. Throughout December, heavy rain prompted flash flood warnings in areas affected by the fire. The onslaught of events had chapter members in Ventura County working around the clock during the holiday season to protect life and property.

Their effects were equally felt farther north, in neighboring Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties. Members there gathered to honor Helus and to show their support for their hardworking brothers and sisters.

The Tri-Counties Chapter holds bimonthly chapter meetings at Harbor Restaurant in Santa Barbara

“We have come together a great many times in support of each other,” says Chapter President Marylinda Arroyo of the Santa Barbara Police Managers’ Association (SBPMA). “With the fires, floods and other significant events over the years, we’ve helped each other through it all, especially through the recent loss of our member Ron Helus.”

This banding together of members demonstrates the chapter’s resiliency and reflects how its leadership operates.

“It has definitely never been about an individual — it’s about all of us,” Arroyo says. “It’s about the team and the efforts of all those who are willing to give their time and energy” to better each association, the chapter and PORAC as a whole. 

This interaction among members is one of Arroyo’s favorite things about the chapter and PORAC.

“The networking and working alongside outstanding individuals who serve daily to protect the communities we all live and work in” is rewarding, she says.

The chapter’s leaders carry on the strong tradition of leadership that has been influential in many areas of PORAC throughout the years. PORAC leaders from the Tri-Counties include past PORAC President Mike Durant and past chapter director Michael McGrew. In addition, many members currently serve on the Executive Board: Anthony Sanders is the Region III Executive Committee Member and Director-at-Large for Ventura County DSA, Javier Antunez is Chapter Director, Treasurer Roger Garcia is on the Insurance and Benefits Trust board, and Chris Coulter is on the Legal Defense Fund board, representing Region III.

Region III Executive Committee Member Anthony Sanders and member Scott Peterson

The strong leadership and engagement from members have given the chapter a loud voice in both the political and legal realms. Notably, the chapter was instrumental in the landmark state Supreme Court case, Ventura County Deputy Sheriffs Association v. Board of Retirement, which raised the benefits for government employees’ retirements.

The chapter has also been involved in subsequent efforts made by the Ventura DSA and other associations for raises, health insurance and other benefits for peace officers.

When the chapter isn’t fighting litigation or dealing with other issues affecting law enforcement statewide, Arroyo says that chapter leadership focuses on helping members network and ensuring that members have up-to-date information about PORAC’s numerous benefits. This is achieved through bimonthly chapter meetings held in Santa Barbara that cover everything from the chapter’s expenses to PORAC’s legislative priorities and news from each county. For members who can’t make it to the meetings, the chapter posts detailed minutes and other announcements on its website at
www.tricountiesporac.net.

Treasurer Roger Garcia and Secretary and PORAC Director Javier Antunez

As a member of PORAC for 23 years, a member of the SBPMA for four years and a member of the SBPOA for over 20 years, Arroyo recognizes the important role that PORAC plays to support law enforcement.

“PORAC is based on empowering all peace officers and achieving common goals and objectives,” she says. “It’s about encouraging officers to have a voice to represent the interests of law enforcement and to make a positive difference in their communities.”

Leadership

President: Marylinda Arroyo
Vice President: Don Douglass (Ventura County)
Vice President: Neil Gowing (Santa Barbara County)
Vice President: Sonny Lopez (San Luis Obispo County)
Secretary & PORAC Director: Javier Antunez
Treasurer: Roger Garcia

Number of members

3,510

Coverage area

San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties

Honoring Service

President Mike Durant and Director Mike McGrew were recognized at the September 18 Tri-Counties Chapter meeting in Santa Barbara for their many years of dedication to the members of their chapter and to PORAC as a whole. The two have worked their entire careers together at the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office and Santa Barbara Police Department.