Fraternal Order of Police

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The Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) is a fraternal organization consisting of sworn law enforcement officers in the United States. It reports a membership of over 325,000 members organized in 2100 local chapters (lodges), organized into local lodges, state lodges, and the national Grand Lodge. The organization attempts to improve the working conditions of law enforcement officers and the safety of those they serve through education, legislation, information, community involvement, and employee representation.[1]

FOP subordinate lodges may be trade unions and/or Fraternal Organizations, as the FOP has both Labor Lodges & Fraternal Lodges and describes itself as a "full service member representation organization."[1] It lobbies Congress and regulatory agencies on behalf of law enforcement officers, provides labor representation, promotes legal defense for officers, and offers resources such as legal research. It also sponsors charities such as Easter Seals, Special Olympics, memorials for fallen officers, and support programs for spouses and family members of police officers.


The Fraternal Order of Police was founded in 1915 by two Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania patrol officers, Martin Toole and Delbert Nagle. They and 21 other members of the Pittsburgh Police met on May 14, 1915, establishing the Fraternal Order of Police its first local, Fort Pitt Lodge #1.[2] The FOP official history states that the founders decided to not use the term "union" because of "the anti-union sentiment of the time," but nevertheless acted as a union, telling Pittsburgh mayor Joseph G. Armstrong that the FOP would "bring our aggrievances before the Mayor or Council and have many things adjusted that we are unable to present in any other way...we could get many things through our legislature that our Council will not, or cannot give us."[2]

In 1918, it was decided that the Order should become a national organization. The Orders constitution stated that "race, Creed or Color shall be no bar". The constitution also had a no strike pledge, but this has not been enforced since 1967 when FOP police in Youngstown, Ohio refused to work during a salary dispute. In 1974 and 1975 the FOP stated that it would take no action against members who violated the anti-strike clause until all efforts were exhausted on the local and state level.[3]

During the 1960s the FOP opposed the creation of police review boards, spearheaded by Robert F. Kennedy, at one point describing them as a "sinister movement against law enforcement". The FOP also clashed with the ACLU on the issue of police brutality, seeing it as a "liberal attempt to discredit law enforcement". The Order was "heartened by Richard Nixon's emphasis on law and order", though it remained strictly apolitical.[4]

Emblem and motto

The Fraternal Order of Police emblem is a five-pointed star. According to the FOP:

The five-cornered star tends to remind us of the allegiance we owe to our Flag and is a symbol of the authority with which we are entrusted. It is an honor the people we serve bestow upon us. They place their confidence and trust in us; serve them proudly.
Midway between the points and center of the star is a blue field representative of the thin blue line protecting those we serve. The points are of gold, which indicates the position under which we are now serving. The background is white, the unstained color representing the purity with which we should serve. We shall not let anything corrupt be injected into our order. Therefore, our colors are blue, gold and white.
The open eye is the eye of vigilance ever looking for danger and protecting all those under its care while they sleep or while awake. The clasped hands denote friendship. The hand of friendship is always extended to those in need of our comfort. The circle surrounding the star midway indicates our never ending efforts to promote the welfare and advancement of this order. Within the half circle over the centerpiece is our motto, "Jus, Fidus, Libertatum" which translated means "Law is a Safeguard of Freedom."[5]

When adopted, the motto was believed to be Latin and assumed to mean "Fairness, Justice, Equality" or "Justice, Friendship, Equality". Actually, the motto is a grammatically impossible and hardly translatable sequence of Latin words; the current interpretation is the best that could be made of it.[6]

In the center of the star is the coat of arms of the city of Pittsburgh.

Organization and Membership

The FOP constitution and bylaws provide that active membership is open to "any regularly appointed or elected and full-time employed law enforcement officer of the United States, any state or political subdivision thereof, or any agency may be eligible for membership" and that "each state and subordinate lodge shall be the judge of its membership." Local lodges often have provisions for retired law enforcement officers.[7] The subordinate lodges are supported by state lodges which are subordinate to the Grand Lodge.[8][9] TheGrandLodge is the national structure of the order.[10]

In 1978, the Order had 138,472 members, 1,250 lodges and 34 state structures.[10]

In the late 1970s, the Order's headquarters were located in Indianapolis, Indiana.[10] The national organization has three offices: the Labor Services Division in Columbus, Ohio, the Steve Young Law Enforcement Legislative Advocacy Center in Washington, D.C., and the Grand Lodge "Atnip-Orms Center" National Headquarters in Nashville, Tennessee.[11]

Fraternal Order of Police Auxiliary

The Fraternal Order of Police Auxiliary (FOPA) is the auxiliary organization of FOP for family members of FOP members. It was formed by a group of wives of Pittsburgh police officers in 1920, and Kathryn M. Milton became its first national president, in 1941 as the Fraternal Order of Police Ladies Auxiliary. It reports over 2,000 members in 140 Auxiliaries in 25 states. In 1985, non-female members older than 18 were admitted for the first time; in 1987, the current name was adopted, dropping the term "Ladies."[12]

Fraternal Order of Police Associates

The Fraternal Order of Police Associates (FOPA) is a civilian affiliate organization that is made up of FOP supporters not eligible for membership. Its members include friends and family of members, businesspeople, professionals, and other citizens. It is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization.[13]

Political advocacy

Passed legislation supported by FOP includes the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act, Law Enforcement Officers Equity Act, and HELPS Retirees Act. Pending legislation that FOP lobbies for include the Social Security Fairness Act, the Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act of 2007, and the State and Local Law Enforcement Officers' Discipline, Accountability and Due Process Act.

The FOP distributes questionnaires for candidates for president and Congress asking them about their views on issues relating to police officers.[14][15][16]

FOP has the following issue positions:

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Frequently Asked Questions." Fraternal Order of Police.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "History." Fraternal Order of Police.
  3. Schmidt, Alvin J. Fraternal Organizations Westport, CT; Greenwood Press pp.263-4
  4. Schmidt p.264
  5. "About the FOP Star." Fraternal Order of Police.
  6. Justin E. Walsh, Ph.D. Fraternal Order of Police 1915—1976: A History. Turner Publishing Company, 2004, pp. 18–20. ISBN 978-1-56311-726-8.
  7. "How to Join." Fraternal Order of Police.
  8. [1]
  9. Reed, Matt (April 7, 2011). "GOP should tread lightly". Florida Today. Melbourne, Florida. pp. 1B.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Schmidt p.265
  11. "Contact Us." Fraternal Order of Police.
  12. "Auxiliary." Fraternal Order of Police.
  13. "Fraternal Order of Police Associates." Fraternal Order of Police.
  14. "Congressional Candidate Questionnaire: Model Questionnaire for use by State and Local Lodges." Fraternal Order of Police.
  15. "Fraternal Order of Police Presidential Questionnaire: John McCain Response." Fraternal Order of Police.
  16. "Fraternal Order of Police Presidential Questionnaire: Barack Obama Response." Fraternal Order of Police.
  17. "Social Security Issues." Fraternal Order of Police.
  18. "H.R. 82: Social Security Fairness Act of 2007." GovTrack.
  19. "H.R. 82: Social Security Fairness Act of 2007." GovTrack.
  20. "H.R. 980: Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act of 2007." GovTrack.
  21. "H.R. 688: State and Local Law Enforcement Discipline, Accountability, and Due Process Act of 2007." GovTrack.
  22. "S. 449: State and Local Law Enforcement Discipline, Accountability, and Due Process Act of 2007." GovTrack.
  23. "H.R. 1073: Law Enforcement Officers Equity Act." GovTrack.
  24. "S. 1354: Law Enforcement Officers Retirement Equity Act." GovTrack.
  25. "Police union wants protection under hate crime law". Politico. January 5, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  26. "Police want violence against officers to be hate crime". The News Star. February 28, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  27. "Enough Is Enough: FOP President Calls on Congress to Expand Hate Crimes Law to Protect Police". FOP. January 5, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links