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.
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." 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. 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 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.
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.