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 105 years ago lives on with more than 2,100 local lodges and more than 355,000 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.
FOP history in Wisconsin goes back to the late 1930s, to the Wausau Police Department.
The Grand Lodge looked to expand west from the eastern states with their rally call for fair treatment for all law enforcement officers. Compared to other states, Wisconsin law enforcement officers already had good working relationships with their administration and a lodge in Wausau was formed under the Grand Lodge.
Unfortunately the expansion could not maintain focus on "stand alone" Lodges and a few years later the Wasusau Lodge became inactive. Today, a visit to the Wausau P.D. will reveal a special wall full of pictures and documents dedicated to their Lodge.
During the Fall of 1991 Princeton police officer Larry Simon had a vision to bring the Fraternal Order of Police into Wisconsin to provide support for local police officers. With the assistance of retired FOP Chicago Lodge 7 members living in the Princeton, Wisconsin area, on January 18th, 1992 the Fraternal Order of Police formally entered the State of Wisconsin. At this inaugural meeting which was presided over by then FOP Grand Lodge National Treasurer Bill Nolan, the following group of 15 police officers signed the charter on January 18th, 1992. Officer Simon was unanimously elected President of Wisconsin Lodge #1, and membership swelled from Green Lake, Marquette and Waushara Counties but in 1998 Lodge 1 fell into inactive status.
As if it was planned, in 1998 the FOP message was also being spread in Green Bay and after some organizing, Green Bay Lodge 2 was chartered in Green Bay in April and Central Wisconsin Lodge 3 was charted in Grand Marsh in June.
In August of 2002 the Wisconsin State Lodge was formed with the assistance from the State Lodges in Illinois, and Minnesota, and members of FOP Lodges in Wisconsin. The Wisconsin State Lodge was chartered by then National Vice President Chuck Canterbury in Green Bay.
Since the chartering of the Wisconsin State Lodge, the FOP has continued to grow in Wisconsin. Wisconsin currently has more than 2,200 members in 20 lodges throughout the state.
Wisconsin State Lodge Chartering, 2002
Wisconsin State Lodge Fraternal Order of Police
PO Box 206, West Bend, WI 53095
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