In previous articles we have recommended to our members that they join PORAC and take advantage of the dual benefits of both CRPOA and PORAC memberships. I have long advocated for legal coverage in case you are involved in an incident where your employment as a reserve peace officer or other duties performed by our search and rescue and volunteers in policing members, your assets or, in the worst case, your freedom may be at stake. As cops, there are all kinds of things in which you can be involved which place you in financial jeopardy or even put you in harm’s way if you are prosecuted criminally for your actions. The CRPOA Legal Services Plan (LSP) is designed to provide our members with day-to-day advice, assistance with administrative or disciplinary matters and legal updates focusing on the interests of California reserve peace officers.
The CRPOA LSP is not designed to provide legal assistance if a civil or potentially criminal proceeding might occur as a result of your work for your agencies (primarily on-duty incidents but potentially for off-duty conduct as well). That is where the PORAC Legal Defense Fund (LDF) Plan IV comes in.
This article explains why you should be a member of both CRPOA and PORAC (and sign up for PORAC LDF Plan IV). Before I get to PORAC LDF, below is a summary of what the CRPOA LSP does for our members:
CRPOA Legal Services Plan
The CRPOA Legal Services Plan is designed to assist CRPOA General Members with matters arising in connection with CRPOA General Members’ duties to their agencies which may result in administrative discipline due to violations of agency policies. As such, a CRPOA LSP representative will assist General Members in connection with administrative matters arising within the course and scope of the members’ duties not involving the possibility of criminal law sanctions or personal civil liability. In these cases, unless agreed to the contrary by CRPOA and the General Member, a plan representative will appear at an administrative interview or at a liberty interest (“name clearing”) hearing. A CRPOA LSP representative will not be provided for any on-duty or off-duty incidents which may implicate potential criminal law sanctions, including without limitation incidents involving use of force, “Section 1983” claims, or other incidents by which criminal or personal civil liability may arise.
If a General Member is the subject of adverse administrative action and CRPOA determines that the issues involved are of broad importance to CRPOA members, CRPOA, in its sole discretion and with the consent of the involved member, may write legal demand letters and may fund litigation or other court proceedings. In such event, the LSP legal counsel will oversee the appointment of outside counsel at no additional cost to the General Member. Under no circumstances shall CRPOA be obligated to bring such action, nor shall CRPOA be obligated to defend any member against whom a civil action is brought in connection with the member’s duties to or employment by his or her agency.
CRPOA’s LSP does not provide any advice or representation for threatened or charged criminal matters or any matter with respect to which a criminal law violation may be implicated.
If a General Member is named as a defendant in a civil suit relating to the General Member’s actions within the course and scope of such member’s duties to the member’s agency and the employing agency wrongfully fails or refuses to indemnify the General Member in accordance with California law, the LSP legal representative will advise the General Member on steps the General Member can take to obtain such indemnification.
PORAC Legal Defense Fund
Below is a summary of the PORAC Legal Defense Fund:
Representation in cases arising from an act or omission within the scope of a member’s employment as a law enforcement officer (non-scope administrative coverage is also included through any departmental administrative investigation or informal non-adversary pre-disciplinary hearing).
Criminal (act or omission within the scope of employment)
Full representation by a highly knowledgeable and experienced criminal attorney from the first indication of potential criminal exposure arising from an act committed within the scope of employment (e.g. shooting, custody death, use of force resulting in serious physical injury, violation of civil rights).
Civil (act or omission within the scope of employment)
Representation by an experienced civil attorney when a member is sued for an act within the scope of employment, but the employing agency refuses to defend the member. When the member’s employing agency defends, but fails to fully indemnify that member, the Legal Defense Fund will provide an experienced attorney to monitor the case.
Why Should You Have Both Plans?
The CRPOA LSP and PORAC LDF together provide you comprehensive legal services coverage for “course and scope” incidents (such as use of force, OIS, etc.). These are not insurance policies but rather they provide legal services. The advantage of having the CRPOA plan is that an LSP representative is available to you on a daily basis (just a phone call or email away) and can help guide and oversee legal matters for you. I have helped many members with CCW and AB 703 matters (CCW endorsements), LEOSA, administrative discipline issues, and other legal matters unique to our members. PORAC LDF is very useful when you have a serious legal problem which implicates civil and potentially criminal liability and you need a legal expert to represent you. In my opinion, having both is a must.
HOW TO JOIN PORAC
You can find useful information here: http://porac.org/membership-information/benefits-summary/
Joining PORAC and signing up for PORAC LDF are easy:
- Form an “Association” – an “Association” is an unincorporated group of 2 or more people who come together for a common purpose, in this case representing the members of your cadre. PORAC has a form which you submit and that’s it.
- Get the POA to approve – PORAC requires that your full-time officers’/deputies’ POA approve the formation of a reserve association. Many POA’s members are PORAC members and no doubt would support a reserve POA in their organization.
- Once approved, your reserves would then sign up for LDF Plan IV coverage.
- The current annual cost of PORAC membership is $40 per reserve and the cost of LDF Plan IV coverage is $4.50 per month. Total cost is $94 per year.
To reiterate, I highly recommend CRPOA members join PORAC and get LDF coverage. It’s well worth it!
CRPOA and PORAC have great combined resources and make a great team working together.
You can contact PORAC at 800-937-6722 for more membership info.
Stay safe everyone.
If you have a question or comment for Jim, please email Jim at email@example.com. Jim René is the General Counsel for the California Reserve Peace Officers Association and a Reserve Police Sergeant for the San Fernando Police Department, and previously was an LAPD reserve police officer for 15 years.
This article does not constitute legal advice and the recipient shall not be entitled to rely on it for any purpose whatsoever. The transmission of an email request for information does not create an attorney-client relationship, and the transmission of any response to such request or any other information contained herein is not intended to create, and the receipt thereof does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship between sender and recipient. All liability with respect to any information contained herein is expressly disclaimed. Under no circumstances may the recipient hold the CRPOA (or its directors and officers) responsible for any acts the recipient decides to take or not to take based on any information contained herein or otherwise. The recipient is strongly advised to consult his or her personal attorney in connection with any issue discussed herein.