The Fraternal Order of Police is a fraternal
organization for sworn police officers. It
is the largest professional law
enforcement association in the United
States, with some 2100 local chapters, or
lodges, and an estimated 321,000

Martin Toole and Delbert Nagle, two
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania patrol officers,
founded the first lodge on May 14, 1915
to improve life and working conditions for
police. In the beginning the organization
was promoted for its social benefits, but
in many areas it also represents police as
a collective bargaining agent, in effect
making it a labor union.

FOP as a collective bargaining agent

The formation of the first FOP lodges
allowed officers to socialize with their
fellows outside of their stressful work
environment. In many areas the lodge
building served as a private club little
different from such organizations as the

As more jurisdictions began to allow their
police officers collective bargaining rights,
the social orientation of the FOP shifted.
In some jurisdictions, officers voted for
the FOP to be recognized as their
collective bargaining agent, making the
lodge in effect the local of a union within
that jurisdiction. This caused a change of
priorities from largely social and fraternal
concerns to issues of benefits, pay, and
grievance representation.

Critics have argued the FOP is ill-suited to
serve in such a capacity. For one thing, it
has traditionally been open to all ranks of
sworn police officers, while labor unions
by their nature are not open to members
of management. For another, it is argued
that collective bargaining is too far
removed from the original purpose of the
organization. For these reasons, in some
jurisdictions the FOP has been decertified
as a collective bargaining agent, although
it may continue to exist in its original
social and fraternal functions. In others,
it has been retained as the collective
bargaining agent despite efforts to have
it removed. The group traditionally fights
vigorously any effort to remove it as a
collective agent in jurisdictions in which it
has been certified as such.

The motto of the FOP is "Jus Fidus
Libertatum" (Law is the safeguard of
FOP Grand Lodge - The Grand Lodge,
the national organization, is based in
Nashville, Tennessee. It publicizes the
activities and issues of the local lodges,
lobbies Congress and regulatory bodies
on behalf of police interests, and offers
resources such as legal briefs and
bargaining tips. It also sponsors various
charities, memorials for fallen officers,
and support programs for spouses and
family members of police officers.
Johnston County, North Carolina Lodge 88
The Fraternal Order of Police, or FOP,
represents a lot of police officers across
the nation.  As you narrow down the
number of police departments you're
considering for a police career, go to the
FOP Lodge websites for those police
departments.  The quality of a Lodge
website can give you a pretty good idea
of its effectiveness, and a well updated
site will give you good insight into the
working environment of the police officers
it represents.

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Fraternal Order
of Police
Becoming a Police Officer
An Insider's Guide to a Career
in Law Enforcement
Copyright © 2021  Barry M. Baker  
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