Message from the President
As I write this, people are still mourning, still wondering why such a senseless murder of six innocent people (3 aged 9) would take place in a small school of K-6 grade students. That, of course, is a subject that will create much debate in the days to come.
I’d like to report what created the most emotion for me…and I’m sure this will create some debate as well…that being the performance of the officers that arrived at that scene, all of which were shared with the world through their body cameras. I was, simply stated, so proud of those young officers. So calm, so confident, and so focused while running towards the danger that waited so that they could save lives. As I watched over and over and over, I could not resist that swelling that comes to your chest as you watch them operate as a team methodically moving towards the danger until they silenced it without further loss of life. While the world prays for the families and friends of the victims and survivors, I’m hopeful that they too will pray for those first responders. Believe me, there are some who will criticize them because it is their nature to hate the police. To those who do, I would simply ask, what would we do without them? Fewer and fewer seek law enforcement as their career of choice. I am so proud that these young officers made the choice they made. And to their bosses, that training you insisted on for this team saved lives. Thank you too!
Steve Sellers and I (accompanied by our lobbyist, Matt Sowash) were asked to speak with the Committee for Veterans and Emergency Services which is chaired by Senator Veronica Klinefelt on March 22nd. It was as much an introductory meeting as anything else, but they made us feel quite welcome. Of course, the topic of “recruiting and retaining” of law enforcement officers came up. While they seemed open to ideas which might assist in such an endeavor, they were surprised to hear what has become my mantra for such discussions. What’s that, you ask? I reported that our very best recruiting tools for new hires are not starting wages. Our best recruiting tools are veteran officers! Those of us that joined the force 30-40 years ago were veteran officers. Perhaps a father, an uncle, or a neighbor who we looked up to. They would tell us that it is an honorable job; good people look to you for advice or help; they’re glad you live down the street. While your wages would just keep up with the average worker, you would get a nice pension after 25-30 years and health care that would provide for you until Medicare kicked in.
Today, if you asked one of those family members or trusted neighbors, what would they say? Most likely, they would say, “you are out of your mind.” Defined contribution pensions have no disability provision and can anybody tell me how much that pension should reach for you to make it “to the end?” How many of your 401 pensions actually made money (other than what you deposited into it) last year? About 40% of our members are prohibited from contributing to social security so that won’t be provided unless you get another job for 10 years or more. Retiree health care is disappearing each day, so how will you gain that coverage between 55 and 65? DC leadership is quick to point out that the cost of living is going down when it reaches 6.9% from 7%! Just two years ago, COLA was under 2%. This got little reaction from the committee. We’ll keep trying. POAM is always at the table!
Just a reminder that the POAM annual convention is just around the corner! The deadline for getting a hefty discount on rooms is mid-April. Most notifications and registration forms are going to be ONLINE only this year. We send it to the local president so be certain that you are getting the message to your membership. Thursday will be our presentation to Police Officers of the Year. There are some great exhibitions of heroism on the agenda this year. Let’s gather together and remind each other how much we mean to this country. POAM is so proud of its members and so proud to serve as your trusted representative.
Earlier, I asked about your 401’s and your preparations for retirement and retiree health care. Many of you are dealing with that challenge without social security. Matt Martin of Retirement Plan Advisors, a long-time trusted company for POAM members, will present his ideas for you at our seminar on Wednesday.
Additionally, we will have presentations from representatives of Frontline Strong 5, local leadership training and political action on the same day. We will split up into four rooms and those who register will be assigned a room to start in and move from, etc. Busy day!
All my best to each of you! Work together, stay safe.