History of the Fraternal Order of Police


In 1915, the life of a policeman was bleak. In many communities they were forced to work 12 hour days, 365 days a year. Police officers didn't like it, but there was little they could do to change their working conditions. There were no organizations to make their voices heard; no other means to make their grievances known.
This soon changed, thanks to the courage and wisdom of two Pittsburgh patrol officers. Martin Toole and Delbert Nagle knew they must first organize police officers, like other labor interests, if they were to be successful in making life better for themselves and their fellow police officers. They and 21 others "who were willing to take a chance" met on May 14, 1915, and held the first meeting of the Fraternal Order of Police. They formed Fort Pitt Lodge #1. They decided on this name due to the anti-union sentiment of the time. However, there was no mistaking their intentions. As they told their city mayor, Joe Armstrong, the FOP would be the means "to 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."
And so it began, a tradition of police officers representing police officers. The Fraternal Order of Police was given life by two dedicated police officers determined to better their profession and those who choose to protect and serve our communities, our states, and our country. It was not long afterward that Mayor Armstrong was congratulating the Fraternal Order of Police for their "strong influence in the legislatures in various states,...their considerate and charitable efforts" on behalf of the officers in need and for the FOP's "efforts at increasing the public confidence toward the police to the benefit of the peace, as well as the public."
From that small beginning the Fraternal Order of Police began growing steadily. In 1917, the idea of a National Organization of Police Officers came about. Today, the tradition that was first envisioned over 90 years ago lives on with more than 2,100 local lodges and more than 325,000 members in the United States. The Fraternal Order of Police has become the largest professional police organization in the country. The FOP continues to grow because we have been true to the tradition and continued to build on it. The Fraternal Order of Police are proud professionals working on behalf of law enforcement officers from all ranks and levels of government.  


The emblem adopted by the National Fraternal Order of Police is designed to remind the membership of the duties that are expected of them as a citizen, a police officer and a member of the lodge. The five-cornered star is to remind them of the allegiance they owe to our Flag and is a symbol of the authority with which they are entrusted. Midway between the points and center of the star is a blue field representative of the thin blue line protecting those served by law enforcement. The points are of gold, which indicates the position under which officers are now serving. The background is white, the unstained color representing the purity with which they should serve. They shall not let anything corrupt be injected into the order. Therefore, the FOP 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 comfort.

The circle surrounding the star midway indicates their never ending efforts to promote the welfare and advancement of this order. Within the half circle over the centerpiece is the motto, "Jus, Fides, Libertatum" which translated means "Law Is a Safeguard of Freedom."

FOP membership is open to regularly appointed or elected and full-time employed law enforcement officers of the United States, any state or political subdivision thereof, or any agency. Family members of a Fraternal Order of Police member may join the FOP Auxiliary. Supporters of Law Enforcement may join the FOP Associates.


To support and defend the Constitution of the United States; to inculcate loyalty and allegiance to the United States of America; to promote and foster the enforcement of law and order; to improve the individual and collective proficiency of our members in the performance of their duties; to encourage fraternal, educational, charitable and social activities among law enforcement officers; to advocate and strive for uniform application of the civil service merit system for appointment and promotion; to support the improvement of the standard of living and working conditions of the law enforcement profession through every legal and ethical means available; to create and maintain tradition of esprit de corps insuring fidelity to duty under all conditions and circumstances; to cultivate a spirit of fraternalism and mutual helpfulness among our members and the people we serve; to increase the efficiency of the law enforcement profession and thus more firmly to establish the confidence of the public in the service dedicated to the protection of life and property. 

In addition to representing the needs of officers to their employer, the formation of the first FOP lodges allowed officers to socialize with their fellow officers outside of their stressful work environment. In many areas the lodge building served as a private club with little difference from such organizations as the Freemasons.

As more jurisdictions began to recognize police officers’ collective bargaining rights, the social orientation of the FOP diminished. In many jurisdictions, officers voted for the FOP to be recognized as their collective bargaining agent, making the lodge the local union within that jurisdiction. This focused priorities on labor concerns such as benefits, pay, and fair and equal representation, in addition to social and fraternal concerns.

Some critics have argued that the FOP is ill-suited to serve in such a capacity as it has traditionally been open to all ranks of sworn police officers, while labor unions typically are not open to members of management. It is also 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 challenged as a collective bargaining agent. The FOP traditionally fights vigorously any effort to remove it as a collective bargaining agent in jurisdictions in which it has been certified as such.


The FOP maintains the Steve Young Law Enforcement Legislative Advocacy Center in Washington, D.C. on Capitol Hill. A full-time professional staff actively lobbies Congress and the Administration on the issues most important to rank-and-file law enforcement officers. The FOP has successfully helped assure the passage of important legislation such as HR218, the “Law Enforcement Officers’ Safety Act”, HR1073, the “Law Enforcement Officers Equity Act ”, and the HELPS Retirees Act. Current priorities of this office include H.R. 82/S. 206, the "Social Security Fairness Act", H.R. 980, the "Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act of 2007", and H.R. 688/S. 449, the "State and Local Law Enforcement Officers' Discipline, Accountability and Due Process Act".

National Police Week

On May 15, 1982 the FOP held the first ever National Peace Officers' Memorial Service in Washington DC. The FOP has sponsored and hosted this service on May 15 of each year thereafter. This service is now part of an entire week of activities dedicated to honoring America’s fallen law enforcement officers. During National Police Week, thousands of law enforcement officers gather at memorial services across the country to honor their fallen colleagues. More than 25,000 officers, as well as the surviving family members and friends of slain officers, travel to Washington DC to attend the FOP’s National Peace Officers' Memorial Service, which is the nations largest and most prominent memorial service held on behalf of fallen law enforcement officers.

The National FOP Foundation

The National FOP Foundation funds programs specifically designed to honor America's law enforcement officers, foster community involvement, and aid the families of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty. Each year, individuals and companies around the world join in partnership with the FOP by contributing to the FOP Foundation. These contributions demonstrate their appreciation for the service and sacrifice made each day by law enforcement officers and their families.

Danny Faulkner

Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner was murdered on December 9, 1981 by cab driver Wesley Cook, who is better known by his alias, Mumia Abu-Jamal. The Fraternal Order of Police has been involved at every turn demanding justice for Brother Faulkner. This includes a nationwide boycott against those businesses and individuals that continue to support Abu-Jamal, and recently condemning the plan of the city of St-Denis in France to name a street in honor of Abu-Jamal.


LA FOP  State Lodge History

By early 1917, membership in Pittsburgh grew to 1,800. During that summer, Nagle and Toole led in the expansion throughout their state. On Oct. 15-17, the first National Convention was held in Pittsburgh. At this inaugural gathering, the Grand Lodge was established and placed with the authority of issuing charters to subordinate lodges. A Constitution and Bylaws were drafted, and four members of lodges other than Fort Pitt were added as officers of this first Grand Lodge.

With both the formation of the Grand Lodge and the secure foundation established in Pennsylvania, the Order continued its expansion in the 1920s. The F.O.P. became strong in both Ohio and Indiana. By 1929, growth brought about the need of a National Organizer, which John Kuespert was elected on Aug. 15.

the 1930s, three more states were added including West Virginia, Michigan, and Kentucky. Expansion was not the only aspect of accomplishment in the '30s. On Aug. 29, 1933, the order passed "the most important resolution of its first quarter century." The minutes read: "...that a committee of five be appointed to form state organizations."

By the time the 25th anniversary of the F.O.P. took place in 1940, a Grand Lodge had come into being, approximately 200 lodges had been chartered, and 23 annual conventions held.

Though the F.O.P. struggled along with the Nation during World War II, it not only retained its existence, but "became recognized on Capitol Hill as the Organization speaking for the Nation's Policemen."

In the 1940s and '50s the Order continued to expand with lodges in South Dakota, Arizona, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, Florida, Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana, North and South Carolina, Alabama, and Georgia.

Not only did the F.O.P. expand with new Lodges, but on Sept. 19, 1941 a motion that "The Grand Lodge grant a charter to the Ladies" passed unanimously. "The ladies" were those women who in accordance with their motto of "We do not let him walk alone," desired to begin a National Ladies Auxiliary.

These years were filled with the Order's engagements with issues such as Legislature, Civil and Human Rights, and Public Consciousness.

Throughout the national tumult of the 1960s, the F.O.P. continued expansion with lodges in Missouri, Kansas, and Nebraska. Although growth continued, the Order experienced some unrest from sources like the Police Review Boards and the Justice Department.

The members of the F.O.P. persisted through these hardships as likewise their brothers had endured in the past. This tenacity that has prevailed since the Order's conception led it to the height at which it stood in 1975. The evolution that began with 23 men who 60 years earlier vowed to continue to support this organization come what may unfolded until it spanned the nation with 1,100 lodges containing 140,000 members.

As the Order continued into the late '70s, its level of national recognition continued to increase with the opening of an office just four blocks from the White House and only 10 blocks from the Capitol Hill. The F.O.P. had truly established itself in our nation's Capitol. The office would serve not only as a clearing house for F.O.P. concerns from all over the country, but would fulfill the need of influencing national legislation and federal programs which affect the police.

The Order's accomplishments in Washington, D.C. were extended on Sept. 29, 1976 when President Gerald Ford signed into law H.R. 366, otherwise known as the $50,000 Survivorship Bill. This law, which was conceived 15 years earlier at the 35th Biennial National F.O.P. Conference, provides that the dependent of any police officer who dies of an injury sustained in the line of duty will receive a lump sum of $50,000.

As the F.O.P. came into a new decade, the national leadership turned to a "Return of the Fraternal Order of Police to the Membership." In an effort to accomplish these goals regional workshops and seminars were developed throughout the country in an effort to spotlight the National F.O.P. in a non-crisis situation.

The Order continued into the eighties with many noteworthy achievements. With the coming about of a new lodge in Washington D.C., membership rose until it reached 160,000 in 1982.

Additional steps forward were taken in our nation's Capitol when the F.O.P. leadership became active on the National Labor Advisory Council. A panel was created to open doors of communication between representatives of labor organizations and both political parties.

As the F.O.P. continued to develop as an organization, many legislative goals were also fulfilled. In 1985 the Order held firm in its support of the Bill HR-4, which regulates the manufacture, importation, and the sale of armor-piercing ammunition. It was the F.O.P.'s position that what good comes of banning the manufacture and importation if we can't prevent the sale of the "cop killer" ammunition. The eventual passage of the Bill was called the biggest legislative victory in years for law enforcement.