Fraternal Order of Police


The Fraternal Order of Police was founded in 1915 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, for American police officers of all ranks. There were 215,500 members in 1994.

The F.O.P. is effectively a fraternal trade union, though strikes are theoretically forbidden. It is limited to the single profession of police work, and it is the only national organization for the working policeman or policewoman.

The original constitution, even before the order went national in 1918, contained the admirable provision that "Race, Creed or Color shall be no bar," and furthermore stated that the F.O.P. should be strictly "non-political, non-sectarian, and shall have no affiliation, directly or indirectly, with any labor union, congress, federation or similar organization by whatever name known." The original antistrike provisions, which called for expulsion from the order if they were contravened, have not had the same force since 1967, when the F.O.P. Lodge in Youngstown, Ohio, refused to let its members work during a salary dispute. Each lodge is fully autonomous, requiring a minimum of only 10 policemen or policewomen, and some lodges have actively adopted a strike stance. There is only one degree, and while the rituals have a distinctly Christian flavor ("Our father, which art in Heaven, we ask Thee to bless this meeting ..."), there is no altar or open Bible. The founders had more respect for Latin than skill in it, for the motto "Jus, Fidus, Liberatum" does not translate as the usual rendition of "Justice, Friendship, Equality" but rather as Jus (right, law, or justice), fidus (safe, trustworthy; conceivably "faithful"), liberatum (of freedom).

In addition to its fraternal work, the F.O.P. furthers its original aims of "bettering existing conditions for Policemen" and "advancing Social, Benevolent and Educational Undertakings among Policemen by publishing an annual survey of police pay and working conditions; conducting seminars, sponsoring competitions and awards and maintaining a speakers' bureau." The F.O.P. also sponsors such things as anti-car theft drives, and other projects to inform the public how to safeguard their property.