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Fraternal Order of Police From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia FratPolice.jpg

The Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) is a labor union consisting of sworn law enforcement officers in theUnited 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 union 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]

The FOP is a trade union, although it does not describe itself as such and labels itself 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.

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History[edit]

The Fraternal Order of Police was founded in 1915 by two Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania patrol officers, Martin Toole and Aaron Burns. 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, tellingPittsburgh 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[edit]

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 ofgold, 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[edit]

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.[11]

In the late 1970s, the Order's headquarters were located in Indianapolis, Indiana.[12] The national organization has three offices: the Labor Services Division inColumbus, 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.[13]



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