While I was sitting at home with my family on the evening of Saturday, September 12, 2020, my cellphone started blowing up. Within 20 minutes, numerous reports, most of them incorrect, had flooded my phone regarding the ambush of two deputy sheriffs in Compton.
Five and seven days later, respectively, I had the honor and privilege of presenting both of these deputies with a donation on behalf of PPOA to assist them and their families through this tragic event. The bravery I witnessed while visiting was overwhelming and left me without words. These two individuals, reverting to their training and inner strength, performed so courageously in this incident; we can only aspire to that degree of heroism under similar circumstances. Please keep these heroes and their families in your thoughts and prayers for a speedy recovery.
This horrific and cowardly incident must serve as a reminder to all of us. These unprecedented times have many people feeling tense beyond normal stressors. COVID-19, unemployment, no school, protests, wildfires, uncertain economic indicators, political polarization, law enforcement reforms and police defunding efforts all play into the tension of everyone, mentally, emotionally and physically. Our members relate to us numerous concerns about workload, excessive overtime and 12/12 schedules, just to name a few.
People in society are acting out in ways never seen before, and with this comes a need for you and your loved ones to be keenly aware. Stay alert in your surroundings at all times. Teach your families to pay attention and to be aware of unusual persons or activities. The potential for violence has no bounds as our society struggles with the numerous issues of 2020. Please be careful.
While society is definitely experiencing a movement, for this country to survive, an increase in dialogue and a return to moderation is needed to effect constructive and sustainable change. On that note, I must segue to acknowledging the brave legislators who are weathering the storm and remaining true to their beliefs and values of providing for the greater good. Many elected officials have shown their true colors as politicians rather than leaders, including those who, during the last legislative session, introduced numerous poorly written police reform bills. Thankfully, through our coalitions and relationships with these brave legislators, PPOA was able to assist other law enforcement partners in defeating the knee-jerk reactions of some, and built dialogue with others as we move forward with anticipated reform legislation conversations for next year.
On the issue of leadership, PPOA continues to strive to protect our membership in every way possible. We obviously recognize that our members dedicate their lives to serving our community in a difficult and often dangerous job. As I speak on behalf of PPOA in public, participating in discussions with numerous community groups, other labor coalitions and elected officials, I reiterate the “Professional” component of our organization’s name. The diversity of PPOA’s members and represented classifications, as well as the best practices, reforms and improvements within Southern California law enforcement seen during my 32-year career, allow for more collaborative dialogue. These discussions continue to make it known to all parties that PPOA and its members value their work in the community and recognize that, while these best practices are in place, mistakes still happen and there is always room for continued improvement.
Elected officials, law enforcement agencies, individual public safety officers and their labor organizations all have roles to play in addressing systemic racism and improving relations between law enforcement and the communities we serve. Society’s reservoir of trust in law enforcement has been severely impacted in 2020, and only through open-minded, collaborative conversations and actions can our community, state and country begin to heal.
As always, I remind you that you are all PPOA family members. We are here to listen and assist to the fullest extent of our capabilities. Please communicate any and all concerns to us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by telephone at (323) 261-3010. Often, it is only through members’ communications that we become aware of the difficulties facing our family.
Because you don’t hear it often enough, thank you for all that you do.