The Fraternal Order of Police, an organization representing nearly 350,000 law enforcement officers across the United States, is under attack by people who say that it represents nothing but the problems in our criminal justice system.
If you are a member of this esteemed organization or know anything about it, you know that nothing could be further from the truth. The FOP provides education, legal resources, and other benefits to its members and supports its member communities through partnerships with Easter Seals and Special Olympics.
The efforts to undermine the FOP directly compromise the safety and security of people across the country. Read on to learn more about why the FOP is under attack and what you can do to support the organization.
Much of the recent criticism against the FOP focuses on comments made by Philadelphia FOP leader, John McNesby, who described Black Lives Matter Activists as a “pack of rabid animals.” Paul Butler, a former federal prosecutor who is now an author and professor, said these comments followed a pattern of systemic racism within the organization.
“Even as law enforcement has become more racially diverse, the FOP seems committed to putting white men in charge. Those leaders consistently take stances against the safety and rights of black Americans,” Butler wrote in an op-ed for The Marshall Project. “As a result, the organization serves as a union cum fraternity for white cops and has a retrograde effect on policing, especially as it relates to civil rights.”
The article goes on to call for investigations of the FOP from Congress, state lawmakers, and organizations like the NAACP and ACLU. This is not the first time such calls have been made. Robert Kennedy made similar claims in the 1960s, but the efforts were thwarted by Richard Nixon when he became President.
The FOP has enjoyed strong support from the Trump administration, but that could change depending on the outcome of November’s election. Moreover, FOP chapters across the country come under scrutiny every time there is a police-involved shooting.
In 2019, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot was overhead calling Patrick Murray, vice president of the organization’s Chicago chapter, an “FOP clown” on a live microphone. These statements are symbolic of the contempt that some elected officials have for the organization and its members.
FOP National President Chuck Canterbury called on Lightfoot to apologize for the remarks and show the Chicago Police Department the respect it deserves.
“Her city is among the most violent in the nation, and these men and women of the CPD are putting themselves in harm’s way to keep their fellow citizens safe,” Canterbury said in a press release. “These officers and their elected leadership should be treated with respect.”
Given these attacks and the prospect of a leadership change in November, now is the time to support the FOP and its members. Given the shortage of police officers around the country, the FOP is a crucial organization for recruiting and retaining officers in cities and towns throughout the U.S.
The FOP acts as a labor organization for police officers, negotiating on behalf of its members for insurance, wages, and other benefits. The group’s Labor Services division travels to member lodges across the country to provide training and expert advice during the contract negotiation process.
The FOP also plays a critical role in speaking up for law enforcement officers during police-involved shootings. When the media and elected officials try to point fingers and assign blame, the FOP speaks out publicly in support of the hard work police do to keep communities safe.
Beyond the FOP itself, the organization’s Auxiliary and Associate divisions provided resources and support for friends and family of police officers. These organizations provide a sense of community and camaraderie in good times and bad and are leaders in the FOP’s charitable work.
Without support from all of us, the important role the FOP plays in the lives of police officers and their families could be diminished if the calls for oversight are successful under a new administration in the White House.
If you are not currently an FOP member, you can contact your local lodge or submit a request on the group’s website to be connected with your local lodge.
Beyond that, speak out the next time you hear someone criticizing the FOP or one of its members, speak up for your fellow law enforcement officer and the organization that works so hard to support everyone who puts on a police uniform in support of our country.
A decline in trust and respect makes it much more difficult for officers to do their jobs. One minute of resistance from a community member during an incident could literally be a matter of life or death. Let’s take a closer look at the issue of respect for police and why it matters now more than ever. Read more here.