Chairman’s Message

Posted on Thursday, June 10, 2010 at 12:00PM
Posted by Andy Schlenker

Your Board of Trustees continually endeavors to ensure that every member association has the option and opportunity to select the type of coverage appropriate for them. Certain groups may elect to participate in “optional” coverage programs (such as the non-scope administrative disciplinary coverage, or the “deductible plan”), and others may select the more basic plan (i.e. Plan 2 – civil and criminal only). Having these various choices available enables each of our participating member associations to select a specific type of legal protection with the rates varying accordingly.

While the Legal Defense Fund will provide any plan selected by its member association, we also want to work with you to ensure that you are not paying for anything which is unnecessary, or more appropriately not available to your particular members. This brings me to the subject of this month’s article: To remind all of you about the availability of LDF Benefit Plan IV.

In all of our plans, we include civil and criminal coverage. We all know too well that none of us are immune from getting sued or criminally prosecuted for performing the basic functions of our job. Additionally, all of us are subject to getting disciplined or fired, which is why most groups take part in Plans I or III (which include administrative discipline coverage). However, there are a new and rapidly growing number of members who, for various reasons, do not need and should not be participating in a plan which would provide legal representation for disciplinary actions.

Most of us have a level of job protection afforded to us by the U. S. Constitution, and California Law which creates a “property right” in our job. Arising out of this right are the various procedural due process levels of appeal which we can utilize in the event our department wants to take away that right. However, certain employees (e.g., “960’s”, reserve officers, and other “at will” employees) are NOT entitled to the full array of administrative protections. Usually, they can be terminated at will, with minimal appeal rights.

The question then becomes what type of LDF coverage is appropriate and available to this group of officers who are not afforded the full administrative remedies and protections otherwise available to full-time peace officers. Long ago, the Trustees determined that LDF Plans I and III are not appropriate for such officers and created LDF Benefit Plan IV.

Under Benefit Plan IV, reserve officers receive legal representation in any civil or criminal action brought against them for any action arising in the scope of their employment. They do not pay for, and are not entitled to, administrative disciplinary coverage because as reserve officers, or otherwise “at will” employees, they have no such rights. Basic Plan IV coverage is $2.00 per member, per month, and the Expanded Option is an additional $2.00 per member, per month, for a total of $4.00 per member, per month. (The expanded option provides legal representation during the course of an administrative investigation, but the coverage terminates upon the conclusion of the investigation. In other words, there are no appeal rights.)

The LDF has seen a marked increase in participants and associations enrolling in Plan IV over the past several months. We now have 110 reserve associations, with 1,122 reserve participants. There has been an increase of over 130 reserve participants since the end of 2009.

Association leaders should be aware of this Plan IV coverage. If your association is participating in Plans I or III, and you have a number of members which include reserve and/or part-time officers, we suggest you contact PORAC Headquarters and the LDF administrative offices to ensure their LDF coverage meets their needs. You may be able to create a new association for the purpose of limiting the cost of the LDF coverage for these particular members.

Again, LDF wants to ensure that every member is as fully protected as the member wants and may be entitled. At the same time, we do not want to collect money for a level of representation which for various reasons may not be suitable or available to that member.

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