On May 27, the California Reserve Peace Officers Association (CRPOA) hosted its first Q&A webinar, an “open house” on Zoom and Facebook Live, with several board members. The webinars are planned to be quarterly going forward.
CRPOA represents the 4,500 reserve peace officers throughout the state, legislatively, and raises the professional, educational and employment standards of reserve law enforcement in California. The organization, established in 1974, has 1,600 members, including 41 from the LAPD. Although originally founded to support reserve peace officers, the association now also serves search and rescue team members and civilian volunteers in policing.
Elections for three CRPOA board seats were recently held. Two LAPD reserve officers, Steve Fazio and Candice Weber, ran for the office. Officer Fazio was elected to a seat and will serve a three-year term.
James Lombardi, of course, has been a leader in California reserve law enforcement and has served on the board for decades. He wrote a chapter about CRPOA in his autobiography, A Sense of Humor. Other LAPD officers who have been on the board include Howard Eckerling and Jim Rene (who currently serves with the San Fernando Police Department).
Before the webinar, The Rotator’s Editor-in-Chief Michael Sellars spoke with Luke Lucas, CRPOA’s senior vice president for membership and retention. Lucas has served as a reserve police officer for the San Francisco Police Department for the last 10 years, and previously with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department for five years. He’s from a family of California reserve officers, “one from each side of my parents,” he says.
Why should a California reserve peace officer join the CRPOA?
A reserve officer has a higher risk today of becoming out of compliance and faces other perils that a full-time officer may or may not be subject to. CRPOA advises members for their protection. Reserves are like licensed drivers; they need training, support, insurance and consultation. CRPOA acts as the reserve officer’s agent. You wouldn’t think of driving your car or owning or renting a house without insurance. Why go to your department and risk it all without support lined up ready to fight on your behalf? CRPOA and a parallel membership with PORAC or your Foundation are necessary insurance policies that I certainly wouldn’t leave home without. At $99 per year for appointed members and $49 for retired members, CRPOA is something you can’t afford to be without. (Editor’s note: The Los Angeles Police Protective League offers its Legal Defense Plan to LAPD reserve officers. For the last three years, the Los Angeles Police Reserve Foundation has offered to partially reimburse its members for the LAPPL plan cost.)
Will the Annual Reserve Peace Officers Conference (ARPOC) be held this year?
ARPOC is postponed to August 2021 for Lake Tahoe. In 2022, it will be in Newport Beach.
What are the current legislative priorities?
Everything related to firearms is our priority each year. Additionally, more than 1,000 bills appear in the Legislature and many have potentially risky language that affects California reserve policing. Every year, reserve policing risks a sunset, new rules, regulations or requirements. CRPOA monitors these bills and lobbies for positive change, corrections or deletions.
What concerns should California reserve peace officers be aware of?
Right now, as many reserves “retire” or officially separate from their agency, many are finding that it’s more challenging than working the streets as an active reserve. Questions continue to come in about Continuing Professional Training (CPT), monthly training, Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST), agency requirements, Department of Justice restrictions and just about anything else you can think of.
Any word on the CPT cycle ending or being pushed back due to COVID-19?
POST has issued a waiver to agencies for the 2020 CPT deadline. It only extends the timeline, but it won’t allow you to remain in compliance for litigation arising out of actions as a reserve. With full-timers needing CPT in 2021, high demand will be in play for all California-appointed peace officers, thus creating a difficult environment for course availability to the reserves. (Editor’s note: It was subsequently recommended during the webinar that officers should communicate with their agency regarding what their respective department training resources and expectations are.)
Some agencies compensate their reserves as part-time employees. Do you see this as a growing trend, as departments need officers and must compete for candidates?
The only way for California reserve policing to flourish is to make it part of the overall recruitment for full-time candidates. Pay is one of the advancements that is needed, yet many cities and counties have charters that prohibit pay to their reserves. A larger stipend may be in order to accomplish a pay component. It’s challenging in some agencies, but not others.
Now that it’s been in existence since the early 2000s, how has the Modular Academy impacted reserve law enforcement in California?
In some ways modular academies have helped, and in other ways they’ve hurt reserve recruitment and retention. Many, including current civilian volunteers in policing looking to go sworn, see the time and tenacity it takes to follow through with the Modular Academy and become disillusioned during the process.
How would you compare other state reserve programs around the nation?
California reserve policing is the nation’s gold standard. No one else offers what California does with the opportunity. Other states may have a program, but it’s not on par with our state.
During the webinar, a couple of legislative updates were provided of bills currently moving through the Legislature. AB 664 would ensure that first responders and health care workers are eligible for workplace protections (e.g., workers’ compensation should they fall ill to communicable diseases, such as COVID-19, when a state of emergency has been declared). Pete Downs, CRPOA’s vice president for legislative affairs, referred to this as a “conclusive presumption” that officers contracted the disease during their first responder duties.
The other update reported by Downs was AB 2591, which “would make it unlawful for an establishment serving the public to prohibit or otherwise restrict a peace officer from carrying a weapon on the establishment’s premises that the peace officer is authorized to carry, regardless of whether the peace officer is engaged in the actual discharge of the officer’s duties while carrying the weapon.”
CRPOA’s Chief Executive Officer Mike Voorhees answered several questions on retirement CCWs and H.R. 218 (LEOSA, regarding nationwide carry for peace officers). AB 703 authorized retired Level I reserve peace officers to be issued CCWs within the state. Voorhees said the bill originally included Level II officers but that “intransigent roadblocks” were in the way and that, while “not satisfying, it was better to have something than nothing.” He said he doesn’t see that being amended anytime soon due to the political atmosphere. Voorhees also discussed “off roster” firearms (only active peace officers, including reserves, may acquire, not retired officers) and high-capacity magazines.“Off roster” refers to firearms that do not appear on California’s list of approved guns for sale to the general public. Voorhees starts speaking at approximately the 31-minute mark in the recorded video of the Facebook Live event, located on the CRPOA Facebook page (see videos dated May 27).
For more information, please visit the California Reserve Peace Officers Association website at crpoa.org.
|1||“Off roster” refers to firearms that do not appear on California’s list of approved guns for sale to the general public.|