f you peruse any cop magazine or Website or perform an Internet search, you'll see there are more cop organizations to belong to than you can imagine. You are the academy cadet or recruit and you want to belong, but to what? Fully investigate before you join and select the right ones for your stage in life.
Better yet, talk to your academy cadre or with your Field Training Officer (FTO) and listen to their recommendations. Incumbents will know the local landscape and hopefully will mentor you for the right selections. They should be honored to sponsor you for membership as well.
Lots to Choose From
I did a search on police organizations and associations and here are the results. I found more than 1,000 Websites! Breaking them down into categories there is an Activist Association Directory, Ethnic and Minority Associations, Gay & Lesbian Directory, Labor Organizations and Unions, Professional Association Directory, Religious Organizations, Social Organization Directory, and a Women's Associations directory.
Truly amazing indeed. Some of these are international or state-specific, and others are very definitive in their focus. So just for your own edification, perform some research first. You'll no doubt find something to pique your interests.
National organizations have a lot to offer you, but the biggest question is whether there is a local affiliate for you to enjoy the full benefits and brotherhood. If you are new to the area, you might contact national offices for local representations.
A few suggested starting points are with your local police or your department. They can give you the rundown on their local organizations. Several departments throughout the country have local police department associations or benevolent groups specific to that department or locale. If you are an officer there, this is a no-brainer. They should also give you a starting point for regional and state affiliations.
If you are working in a unionized department, belonging to the departmental union is often mandated. One bit of advice here is to get involved in the process. Fully understand your contract and work with a committee. The more you understand, the more you will benefit.
Additionally, later on in your career there will be other organizations that will open up to you as well. There are many specialized groups for your specialty or interests.
As a police instructor and trainer I hold memberships with the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (www.ileeta.org) and the International Association of Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors (www.ialefi.com). They serve me well in this arena.
As you rise through the ranks you will need to consider joining organizations in line with that stage in your career, such as chiefs associations like the International Association of Chiefs of Police (www.theiacp.org).
My only other suggestion to you is that once you become a member of any career-specific organization, fully understand your rights and benefits. Most all have some membership perks that can be very valuable. Do not become merely a "card carrying member." Granted, they all need your membership dues and you are important in the membership numbers. But go the extra mile and get involved to help your association; you are their future.
Train hard, train smart…you can't face tomorrow's challenges with yesterday's thinking.