Becoming a Police Officer: Professional Associations (page 5)
THE NUMBER of law enforcement professional associations is huge. Some are actually unions which bargain collectively for all the officers in a department; others are fraternal or sororal associations for officers of similar race, sex, ethnicity, or religious affiliation. Some associations concentrate on officers with similar types of assignments, such as canine officers, bomb technicians, or training officers. Still other associations are aimed at management ranks, but often permit lowerranking officers to belong as non-voting members and attend meetings and training conferences.
The list that follows describes some of the larger law enforcement associations. In addition to the groups listed, a more general Internet search using such phrases as "police organizations," "African-American police," "women police," and "sheriffs' associations" will yield hundreds of other groups whose websites can help a police candidate learn more about the profession.
Most law enforcement professional associations are open only to those already employed in the field. However, through these associations, you will find general information about the law enforcement profession, an indication of the range of groups that exist, and, in some cases, advice for applicants, sometimes including links to departments with vacant positions. Additionally, since many of these groups list individual chapters located around the United States, you may be able to establish a relationship with a group in your geographic area that will help you locate a job vacancy or even prepare you to meet the eligibility requirements.
Remember that a job search is not for the bashful. When you find an association listed that mirrors your interests or is based in your area, use the "Contact Us" or a similar link to ask if you are eligible to attend meetings and whether the group sponsors job fairs or offers scholarships for those interested in a policing career.
Airborne Law Enforcement Association (ALEA)
An association of civilian pilots and technicians, sworn officers, and aircraft and avionics manufacturers. It holds a national conference and provides training material for law enforcement agencies interested in developing airborne units. A police candidate with thoughts about becoming a pilot would be well-advised to visit the ALEA website.
American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME)
A national federation of civil service workers, AFSCME is a union, which as of 2006 represented about 1.4 million police officers in more than 100 affiliate associations that support police officers during contract negotiations.
ASIS International (formerly the American Society for Industrial Security) (ASIS-International)
Founded in 1955 to professionalize the security industry, ASIS International currently has over 36,000 members in more than 200 chapters throughout the world, most of whom are in management positions in private security companies, although many public law enforcement officers are also members. Generally chapters meet regularly to listen to a speaker discuss an area where private security and law enforcement overlap or where better cooperation is sought. The association publishes a monthly magazine, Security Management; many articles are written by security professionals and provide an overview of issues in the field. A number of chapters have college affiliates and offer scholarships to students studying security or planning to enter law enforcement.
Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA)
Founded in 1977, FLEOA in 2008 represented more than 25,000 federal agents from more than 65 law enforcement agencies. As the bargaining agent for federal law enforcement officers, FLEOA focuses its activities on such issues as salary, disability benefits, and the right of retirees to carry their firearms. There are a number of links to federal law enforcement agencies on FLEOA's website.
Fraternal Order of Police (FOP)
Founded in 1915 by two police officers, the FOP acts as a union in many jurisdictions, but in others is solely a social group organized into local and state lodges. In 2008 there were more than 325,000 members in more than 2,000 lodges; about half the unionized law enforcement officers in the United States are represented by an FOP lodge.
Hispanic American Police Command Officers Association (HAPCOA)
Established in California in 1973, HABCOA is the largest and oldest organization of Hispanic-American command officers in criminal justice agencies in the United States and Puerto Rico. More than 1,200 officers employed at all levels of law enforcement are organized through 12 local chapters and a national office located in Virginia; a major goal is to encourage the recruitment, retention, and promotion of Hispanic-Americans in law enforcement.
International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators (IACLEA)
From a small conference in 1959, IACLEA has grown into an organization whose membership represents more than 2,000 colleges and universities throughout the world, although most are in the United States and Canada. A bimonthly magazine, Campus Law Enforcement Journal, reaches close to 2,000 campus law enforcement administrators and provides an introduction into campus policing issues for applicants considering employment in this growing area of policing.
International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP)
Founded under a somewhat different name in 1893, the IACP is the oldest and largest association of police executives; in 2008 its more than 20,000 members came from about 90 countries. In addition to an annual conference that generally attracts at least 12,000 people, many of whom are chiefs of their agencies, regional conferences are also held around the world to accommodate those who cannot get to the United States or Canada for the annual meeting and to address issues of interest outside North America. The IACP issues policies and standards and tries to be a centralized voice for the approximately 18,000 U.S. police departments. It publishes a monthly magazine, The Police Chief; articles are often written by chiefs of police highlighting local solutions to law enforcement issues. The IACP also lobbies the U.S. Congress on police-related issues and provides numerous training programs.
International Association of Women Police (IAWP)
Formed in 1956 as the continuation of a much earlier association of women officers, the IAWP is open to men and women but is primarily made up of women police personnel of all ranks in all types of law enforcement. Although international membership has grown in the last two decades, most members are from the United States and Canada. In addition to a quarterly magazine, Women Police, the IAWP hosts an annual training conference that features an international police scholarship winner and highlights both general police topics and issues facing and successes of female personnel around the world.
International Brotherhood of Police Officers/SEIU (IBPO)
A union that supports its member organizations with a full-time staff of negotiators, labor attorneys, and a political action committee that finances pro-law enforcement, pro-union candidates for political office, and that lobbies in Washington, DC and in a number of state legislatures on behalf of its members.
International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT)
In addition to the many other types of workers it represents, the IBT is the bargaining agent for about 15,000 police officers in slightly over 200 agencies. Like the IUPA, it is affiliated with the AFL-CIO.
International Union of Police Associations/AFL-CIO (IUPA)
A union for law enforcement, corrections, and related support personnel, IUPA was chartered as a national organization in 1954. In 1966 it expanded to include Canadian police associations, requiring a change of name from National Union of Police Associations to its current international title. In 1979, IUPA became the first law enforcement union chartered by the AFLCIO. In 2008, IUPA represented more than 100,000 members in more than 350 locals in the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, and the United States Virgin Islands.
National Association of Asian American Law Enforcement Commanders (NAAALEC)
This is one of the newer ethnic-based commanders' organizations. Formed in 2002 by officers from San Francisco, Los Angeles, Houston, and New York City, the group has expanded rapidly. Its annual training conference is held in conjunction with two other groups, the National Asian Peace Officers' Association (NAPOA) and the Asian Law Enforcement Society (ALES). In addition to promoting recruitment of Asian-Americans into law enforcement, the group provides scholarship assistance to Asian/Pacific candidates.
National Association of Field Training Officers (NAFTO)
Formal field training for police officers began in the mid-1960s. Prior to that, officers were sometimes assigned to work for a short period of time with more experienced officers, but little attention was paid to who was selected as a trainer. As field training developed into a formal program of instruction and supervision of rookie officers, trainers formed NAFTO and held their first annual conference in 1992. NAFTO's goals are to further formalize and professionalize the roles of trainers in policing, corrections, and communications (dispatching).
National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO)
Founded in 1978, NAPO is a coalition of more than 2,000 police unions and associations that in 2008 represented more than 230,000 U.S. law enforcement officers, 11,000 retirees, and 100,000 civilian supporters.
National Association of Women Law Enforcement Executives (NAWLEE)
Formed in 1995 in recognition of the growing number of women in law enforcement management ranks, NAWLEE has partnered with the IACP in conducting two studies of women in policing and provided mentoring and networking for women in ranks above captain and for those interested in advancing to management ranks. Its annual conference focuses on how management issues affect women, who comprise only about 2% of U.S. chiefs and 1% of sheriffs in 2008.
National Black Police Officers Association (NBPA)
A national consortium of African-American police organizations in the United States, NBPA was formed in 1972 with a focus on education, training, and policy issues centered on improving the relationships between police departments and the minority community; evaluating the effects of police programs within the minority community; working to recruit minority officers; assisting in policy development to eliminate police corruption, brutality, and discrimination; and to educate police officers to perform professionally and compassionately. As of 2004, individual membership was about 35,000, with close to 150 professional and student chapters.
National Latino Peace Officers Association (NLPOA)
Formed in 1972 originally to unite Latino officers in California law enforcement agencies, NLPOA claimed in 2008 to be the largest Latino law enforcement organization in the United States, with members at all ranks and in all types of agencies. The association's major goals include the recruitment and promotion of Latino officers, providing various forms of support for Latino officers during their probation period, assisting members in the promotional process, and encouraging officers to participate in education and training programs within their agencies. NLPOA was involved with lowering height requirements and winning bilingual pay in the California Highway Patrol (CHP) and other California agencies. Many state chapters engage in fund raising to support scholarship programs for those interested in becoming law enforcement officers.
National Native American Law Enforcement Association (NNALEA)
Formed in 1993 by Native Americans in a variety of law enforcement agencies, NNALEA promotes recruitment of Native Americans into law enforcement, works to foster cooperation between Native Americans and criminal justice agencies, and assists Native American communities in improving the quality of law enforcement under tribal authority. By mid-2003, the group estimated its membership at more than 700; executive officers must be Native American law enforcement officers. A training conference, publications, and a number of public/private partnerships are intended to recruit and retain Native American officers in tribal and other law enforcement agencies.
National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE)
An outgrowth of a conference to address crime problems in urban low-income areas sponsored by the Police Foundation and the Department of Justice's Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA), NOBLE was formed in 1976 by African-American police chiefs. Its more than 4,300 members throughout the United States were joined in 2002 by a chapter in St. Kitts and Nevis, the first expansion beyond the country. Membership is open to anyone interested in a career in law enforcement. The group participates with other major law enforcement groups in consortia aimed at professionalizing policing and working more closely with minority communities. It sponsors a Youth Initiative that offers leadership workshops and communication skills.
National Sheriffs' Association (NSA)
Primarily dedicated to increasing the professionalism of sheriffs' offices, NSA membership is open members of the law enforcement community and also to civilians and corporations. Formed in 1940, the group has grown to more than 20,000 members, holds an annual training conference attended by many of the more than 3,000 U.S. sheriffs and their families, and publishes the monthly Sheriff Magazine. NSA participates with other major law enforcement groups in consortia aimed at professionalizing policing. Because sheriffs are generally elected officials whose responsibilities include civil enforcement, court security, and jail management, NSA has worked to establish partnerships across the criminal justice system, with vendors who provide many of the products required to manage a correctional facility—and with private firms interested in publicizing community crime prevention efforts that most sheriffs are involved with such as Neighborhood Watch, Triad, USAonWatch® and Boris the Burglar®.
National Troopers Coalition (NTC)
Founded in 1977, the NTC is a national association of state police and highway patrol unions that in 2008 had more than 40,000 members. Although the website displays links to a number of states, the links are not to the police agencies themselves but to the employee unions.
Police Association for College Education (PACE)
The twofold mission of PACE is to encourage police agencies to set a minimum education level of a four-year college degree for police candidates and to match college graduates interested in police careers with agencies that require a bachelor's degree for employment. Candidates may learn about vacancies by visiting PACE's website. Although a far greater number of non-federal agencies require two-year rather than four-year degrees, PACE concentrates on four-year degree agencies.
Police Executive Research Forum (PERF)
Established in 1977 by a dozen large city police chiefs, PERF has become a research arm of policing. In meeting its initial goals of enhancing police capabilities to improve crime control and to encourage debate within policing about police issues, PERF has sponsored studies of workplace violence, police response to people with mental illness and the homeless, and local law enforcement's response to terrorism. Although its membership is no longer limited to large city police chiefs, it is one of the few police organizations that require a member to be a police executive of a department of at least 100 full-time employees or to oversee a jurisdiction of at least 50,000 people and to hold a four-year college degree. Applicants must be approved by current members. Although candidates for law enforcement positions are not eligible for membership, summaries of PERF's research are available on its website and provide an overview of issues that leading police executives believe are among the current concerns of the profession.
Society of Police Futurists International (PFI)
Members include police and private security practitioners, educators, researchers, technology experts, and others interested in professionalizing law enforcement through research that involves long-range planning and forecasting, including predicting personnel needs and changes, technological changes, and societal expectations that may impact on the delivery of police services in the future. Futurists present to police practitioners tools to analyze, forecast, and plan in new ways by undertaking research, sponsoring conferences, and publishing a newsletter.
United States Police Canine Association, Inc. (USPCA)
Formed in 1971 as a result of the merger of two existing groups, the UPSCA accepts as full members any law enforcement officers who are canine handlers, trainers, or administrators and as associate members civilian trainers and handlers and retired officers. With a membership of about 4,000 in 2003, the USPCA each year holds two week-long competitive meets at which handlers and their dogs vie for various levels of certification and honors. A police candidate with thoughts about becoming a canine handler would be well-advised to visit the USCPA website.
Women in Federal Law Enforcement (WIFLE)
Originally formed by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management to study the reasons women were not becoming or remaining special agents, in 1999 group leaders separated from agency sponsorship and took the name WIFLE. In addition to providing training for women currently employed in federal law enforcement, WIFLE works to increase the number of women by sponsoring events to support college scholarships and by providing information forums to advise women of federal hiring requirements, benefits, and the tasks federal agents typically perform. Although membership is not open to federal agent candidates, WIFLE's website provides an introduction to federal policing and information on what candidates can expect as applicants, trainees, and agents.
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