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Chairman’s Message

Posted on Tuesday, December 01, 2009 at 12:00PM
Posted by Andy Schlenker

The core function of the PORAC Legal Defense Fund has always been to provide high quality legal protection for its members. Until now, our membership has existed entirely of active public safety officers (i.e. those individuals presently employed in the field of law enforcement, corrections, and similar vocations).

A key requirement, however, was for the member to be an “actively” working public safety officer.

On July 22, 2004, the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act (LEOSA) of 2004, also commonly referred to as “H.R. 218,” became law. (18 U.S.C. §§, 926B, 926C.) Among other things, this federal law allows “a qualified retired law enforcement officer” to carry a concealed firearm anywhere in the nation, notwithstanding most other state and local laws which restrict the possession of concealed weapons.

PORAC recognized the importance of these federal provisions, and came to the LDF Board of Trustees to address a seemingly important gap in the protections provided to our members. In essence, the question was posed as follows: Could LDF provide legal protection to a retired peace officer who is lawfully carrying a firearm (in accordance with the criteria set forth in H.R. 218), and who finds themselves in the unfortunate position of having to use that weapon in either self defense, or the defense of another? Until now, LDF provided no protection for its retired members (other than for those acts arising before retirement).

In recognition of the need to legally protect our former members, LDF has taken on this very interesting challenge. Over this past year, the Board of Trustees has engaged in thoughtful discussions with PORAC, researched the relevant laws, and evaluated the types of cases which could arise.

After this extensive analysis, we developed an Amendment to the Plan Document which would provide a comprehensive level of protection for a retired peace officer. We concluded that in addition to the defense of a criminal or civil proceeding, there also ought to be some form of legal protection for a member who is wrongfully denied a C.C.W.

Finally, at the last LDF Trustees’ meeting at the PORAC Conference in Reno, we approved the Amendment, effective January 1, 2010. The Amendment to the Plan Document provides, in relevant part, as follows (for the complete text and exclusions/limitations, please see the Amendment included on page 19. You can also find this lauguage on our website, or you may contact LDF for a copy):

“Benefit Plan V – Retiree (H.R. 218) Coverage

A Participant who is a Qualified Retired Law Enforcement Officer and a retired associate member of PORAC shall be entitled representation by a Panel Attorney or Panel Field Representative in the administrative appeal of a denial of a permit to carry concealed firearms by the agency from which the participant retired.

A participant described in subsection (a) who possesses a current concealed weapons permit issued by the agency from which the Participant retired shall be entitled to:

Legal representation in any civil or criminal action brought against him or her arising from the use of a firearm in defense of self or others where an imminent threat of serious bodily harm to self or others is present.

Legal representation in any criminal action brought against him or her arising from the possession of a concealed firearm that is not precluded under local law.”

LDF requires a certain percentage of the members of an association to join LDF before LDF coverage can be provided to any of its members. For those interested in obtaining this new HR-218 coverage, or if you have any questions, please contact LDF, PORAC, or PORAC Retired Associate Members (RAM) to discuss.

For the association leaders, please encourage your retired or retiring members to join RAM and to request this “HR 218” coverage.

The Board of Trustees strives to meet the ever-changing needs of our members. For those who are aware of other areas where LDF coverage is needed, please feel free to discuss them with LDF or any of the trustees. We take every such request seriously and we are always open to exploring new ideas to accommodate the expanding and changing needs for our fellow law enforcement officers.

PORAC Legal Defense Administrator Ed Fishman Testimony: Law Enforcement Use of Body Cameras.