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 2,100 local chapters (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.
FOP subordinate lodges may be trade unions and/or Fraternal Organizations, as the FOP has both Labor Lodges and Fraternal Lodges, and describes itself as a "full service member representation organization." 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 first local of the Fraternal Order of Police, Fort Pitt Lodge #1. 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."
In 1918, it was decided that the Order should become a national organization. The Order's 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.
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 American Civil Liberties Union (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.
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."
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.
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. The subordinate lodges are supported by state lodges which are subordinate to the Grand Lodge. The Grand Lodge is the national structure of the order.
In 1978, the Order had 138,472 members, 1,250 lodges and 34 state structures.
In the late 1970s, the Order's headquarters were located in Indianapolis, Indiana. 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.
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."
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.
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.
FOP has the following issue positions:
- Supports the Social Security Fairness Act, which would repeal the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and the Government Pension Offset (GPO) in current law.
- Supports the recommendations of the President's Commission To Strengthen Social Security to privatize Social Security, and opposes "mandating participation in the Social Security system for either current or newly hired state and local government employees that do not currently participate in Social Security.
- Supports "minimal collective bargaining rights for public safety employees," including law enforcement officers and firefighters, and supports the Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act of 2007.
- Supports due process rights of law enforcement officers in non-criminal administrative proceedings and supports the State and Local Law Enforcement Discipline, Accountability and Due Process Act.
- Supports the Law Enforcement Officers Equity Act, which would expand the definition of "law enforcement officer" under the Civil Service Retirement System and the Federal Employees Retirement System to include all U.S. federal police officers, as well as Customs and Immigration Inspectors.
- Supports the REAL ID Act.
- In response to the 2014 killings of NYPD officers, President Chuck Canterbury asked Congress to consider making crimes against police officers fall under the category of hate crimes.
Opposition to corporate welfare
In November 2018, the Nashville chapter of the FOP criticized Mayor David Briley's decision to give $15 million in tax incentives to Amazon, owned by billionaire Jeff Bezos, but no wage increase for them. The FOP explained that many police officers cannot afford to live in Nashville and have to take extra jobs due to their low wages. The mayor dismissed the criticism as two separate issues, but the FOP added, "Saying that these two matters are separate does nothing to ensure the long term welfare of our employees." The FOP called it "corporate welfare," and they supported a resolution by council members that would have ensured the tax incentives only went through if government workers received a pay raise.
In 1991, the FOP was under scrutiny from the public in part because of the Rodney King incident. Dewey Stokes, the FOP president at the time, contextualized the incident by saying, "You have to put things in proper perspective. [...] These are not common occurrences. They are the result of stress on the job, emphasis of the system on the criminal and not the victim, and the media's exploitation of the negatives of law enforcement."
On September 18, 2009, the Providence Journal reported the Fraternal Order of Police representing several Rhode Island police departments had solicited donations from city massage parlors or "spas". Watchdog groups have claimed that these massage parlors are fronts for prostitution.
On August 27, 2017, as the FOP was holding its annual conference at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville, Tennessee, protesters compared the FOP to the Ku Klux Klan by putting up banners on interstate overpasses, one of which read, "Grand Wizards to Grand Lodges. White Supremacy By Another Name".
In June 2018, Fraternal Order of Police Tri-County Lodge #3 in South Carolina objected to the inclusion of award-winning novel The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, and All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely in a high school summer reading list, because of their depictions of violence by police officers.  The National Coalition Against Censorship offered the high school support, while prominent authors such as Hari Kunzru and Neil Gaiman pointed out the alarming nature of police officers trying to police what children read.
- "Frequently Asked Questions Archived 2008-05-09 at the Wayback Machine." Fraternal Order of Police.
- Hasch, Mike (August 11, 1991). "Brutality, competence questions facing FOP as it convenes here". The Pittsburgh Press. p. 6. Retrieved December 28, 2018 – via Newspapers.com. (Registration required (help)).
- "History Archived 2008-09-24 at the Wayback Machine." Fraternal Order of Police.
- Schmidt, Alvin J. Fraternal Organizations Westport, CT; Greenwood Press pp.263-4
- Schmidt p.264
- "About the FOP Star Archived 2008-05-12 at the Wayback Machine." Fraternal Order of Police.
- 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.
- "How to Join Archived 2008-06-03 at the Wayback Machine." Fraternal Order of Police.
- Reed, Matt (April 7, 2011). "GOP should tread lightly". Florida Today. Melbourne, Florida. pp. 1B.
- Schmidt p.265
- "Contact Us Archived 2008-05-13 at the Wayback Machine." Fraternal Order of Police.
- "Auxiliary Archived 2008-06-12 at the Wayback Machine." Fraternal Order of Police.
- "Fraternal Order of Police Associates Archived 2008-05-13 at the Wayback Machine." Fraternal Order of Police.
- "Congressional Candidate Questionnaire: Model Questionnaire for use by State and Local Lodges." Fraternal Order of Police.
- "Fraternal Order of Police Presidential Questionnaire: John McCain Response." Fraternal Order of Police.
- "Fraternal Order of Police Presidential Questionnaire: Barack Obama Response." Fraternal Order of Police.
- "Social Security Issues Archived 2008-07-24 at the Wayback Machine." Fraternal Order of Police.
- "H.R. 82: Social Security Fairness Act of 2007." GovTrack.
- "H.R. 82: Social Security Fairness Act of 2007." GovTrack.
- "H.R. 980: Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act of 2007." GovTrack.
- "H.R. 688: State and Local Law Enforcement Discipline, Accountability, and Due Process Act of 2007." GovTrack.
- "S. 449: State and Local Law Enforcement Discipline, Accountability, and Due Process Act of 2007." GovTrack.
- "H.R. 1073: Law Enforcement Officers Equity Act." GovTrack.
- "S. 1354: Law Enforcement Officers Retirement Equity Act." GovTrack.
- "Police union wants protection under hate crime law". Politico. January 5, 2015.
- "Police want violence against officers to be hate crime". The News Star. February 28, 2015.
- "Enough Is Enough: FOP President Calls on Congress to Expand Hate Crimes Law to Protect Police". FOP. January 5, 2015. Archived from the original on July 6, 2015.
- "Fraternal Order of Police Endorses Trump" (PDF). Fraternal Order of Police. 16 September 2016.
- Koehn, Alexandra (November 29, 2018). "Metro employees feel 'left behind' after no pay raise". News Channel 5. Retrieved December 12, 2018.
- "Nashville police union: Amazon getting 'corporate welfare'". AP News. November 30, 2018. Retrieved December 28, 2018.
- "Nashville FOP, council members express opposition to Amazon incentives". WKRN-TV. November 28, 2018. Retrieved December 28, 2018.
- Cox, Joseph (29 January 2016). "US Police Organisation Hacked, Documents Posted Online". Retrieved 29 January 2016.
- Joseph, George (29 January 2016). "Hackers post private files of America's biggest police union". Retrieved 29 January 2016.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-12-04. Retrieved 2008-12-04.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
- David Seifman (May 10, 2007). "N.Y. Triggers Gun Stings Nationwide". The New York Post.
- Arditi, Lynn (18 September 2009). "R.I. police charities solicit donations from "spas"". Providence Journal. Archived from the original on 22 September 2009. Retrieved 21 September 2009.
- Allison, Natalie (August 28, 2017). "Protesters block Broadway, cover Confederate statue in Nashville". The Tennessean. Retrieved September 2, 2017.
One banner read "Grand Wizards to Grand Lodges," the former reference to a Ku Klux Klan leadership position and the latter to the "lodge" regional grouping structure of the FOP. The phrase was followed by "White Supremacy By Another Name," and a drawing of a police badge bearing "FOP."
- Flood, Alison (3 July 2018). "South Carolina police object to high-school reading list". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 21 December 2018.