Associations for police officers and other law enforcement officials are common in many countries. In most cases, the police officer’s association is an organization that supports the work of police officers within a given geographical location, while also offering a means of collectively participating in the life of the wider community. Because organizations of this type are often structured in order to provide support to men and women active in a police force, the association may also be a means of securing additional benefits and advantages such as life insurance or negotiating for better pay or benefits.
For the most part, any active police officer can apply for and become a member of the local police officer’s association. Street cops as well as desk sergeants qualify for membership. There are also some associations that allow retired police officers to retain their membership, often with a reduced annual fee and a slight change in the membership benefits.
While the typical police officer’s association often provides the same functions as any fraternal social club, the function of the organization can go far beyond providing a source of fellowship among officers. Depending on local laws and customs, the organization may be involved in actions that have a direct impact on the standing and general well being of the membership. This may take the form of arbitration in legal issues involving a member, investigating and resolving complaints or other grievances, and negotiating with local municipalities on salary increases, working conditions, or additional benefits on behalf of all the police officers belonging to the association.
A police officer’s association may also be a means for officers to collectively invest in the general well being of the community where they serve. It is not unusual for a police officers organization to sponsor drives or events that raise funds or collect resources for charitable groups, or even something as simple as building a neighborhood park for children or sponsoring a local after-school program. By combining the efforts of all the officers in the association, it is often possible to achieve results that would not be possible otherwise.
It is not unusual for each police officer’s association to also require members to abide by codes of conduct that are identical or at least similar to those approved by local municipalities for their police forces. Should a member be found guilty of violating that code, punitive actions may range from a fine to expulsion from the association altogether. However, many associations will allow an expelled member to reapply once the issues that led to the expulsion are corrected and the officer can demonstrate that he or she is willing to abide by the terms of the code, assuming the officer is still employed with a local police force.