Grand Lodge

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.

 

FOP Lodge #5

New Castle County, Delaware Lodge # 5, of the Fraternal Order of Police, was chartered, by the Grand Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police, on November 18, 1967. The original charter was found recently during a move of the lodge office. It was signed by the thirty-three charter members. They are Dave Strawbridge, Rodney Reynolds, Allen Rogers, Alan Kerrigan, Roger Elderkin, Gilbert Ogden, August Antoine, John Ingram, Robert Whayland, Earl Biddle, Jr., Felix Poppitti, James Leonard, Sr., Ralph Biddle, Jr., Carl Wilhelm, Donald Shaw, Robert Klosiewicz, Michael Larotonda, Edward Kotz, Jr., Emmanuel Rodriquez, James Pierson, Donald Hill, Harvey Stryker, Donald Bennett, Charles McNatt, Henry Snedecker, Clarence Knox, Harry Hitch, Robert Hayes, Louis Montressor, Frank Astfalk, Joseph Nissori, Wesley Johnson, and Elwood Mowdy. Lodge 5 member Verne Orndorff was commissioned to frame the charter, and it now holds a place of honor on the Lodge 5 office wall.

The first president of Lodge 5 was Elwood Mowdy (1968-1970). He was followed by Michael Larotonda (1970-1972), Robert Carmine (1972-1974), and William Gallagher (1974-1976).  The monthly membership meeting held on July 31, 1968 resulted in President Mowdy issuing a letter to all members. The letter chastised the membership for not attending meetings and reminded them that their support, opinions and ideas were needed. The members were told that there was strength in numbers, and that the only way to achieve the goals of the Lodge was through the support of all of its members.

The original contract was eight pages long, and called for a starting salary of $6,786.00 annually for a patrolman. The FOP was also recognized as the exclusive bargaining agent for all New Castle County Police Officers up to the rank of Lieutenant.  In October of 1971 Lodge 5 ratified its second contract after negotiations had gone to federal mediation. The two-year deal provided raises of 9% the first year and 7% the second year. For the first time health insurance, life insurance, paid sick days, a clothing allowance, meal allowance pay, emergency call out pay and stand-by pay were all added to the contract.

On October 20, 1972, Officer Paul J. Sweeney became the first New Castle County Police Officer, and thus, the first Lodge 5 member, killed in the line of duty.  In 1973 the establishment of an equitable Vacation Policy was a priority. Some members began to openly question County Government hiring practices.   In 1974, President William Gallagher tried several ways to get the members to turn out for meetings.  On one of President Gallagher’s meeting announcements he urged the membership to “Come to the meeting and stand up for what is right – or stay home and have someone else cram it down your throat. If that happens don’t complain about the taste.”   Click here for the full version.

 

FOP Seal

 seal

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 tends to remind us of the allegiance we owe to our Flag and is a symbol of the authority with which we are entrusted. It is an honor the people we serve bestow upon us. They place their confidence and trust in us; serve them proudly.

Midway between the points and center of the star is a blue field representative of the thin blue line protecting those we serve.

The points are of gold, which indicates the position under which we are now serving.

The background is white, the unstained color representing the purity with which we should serve. We shall not let anything corrupt be injected into our order. Therefore, our 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 our comfort.

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