On Friday evening at Inn at the Grand Glaize, about 20 law enforcement officers gathered with family and friends to commemorate the start of a new organization at Lake of the Ozarks.
Members and organization officers to the first-ever Lake of the Ozarks Regional Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) had reason to celebrate the official beginning of this new FOP chapter for the tri-county region and beyond.
Not only have the 20-plus members wanted to start a local chapter of the FOP; the Missouri FOP division also approached the local law enforcement to open a FOP lodge in the Lake Area.
"Over the past few months we have been working to organize this new FOP lodge in the Lake Area," said Kevin Friend, Osage Beach senior officer and Lake of the Ozarks Regional FOP Lodge trustee. "We have brought the group together and are working with the state groups to get everything in place. It brings a lot of the police officers in the area closer together."
In fact, the Lake of the Ozarks Regional FOP has members and invites new law enforcement members from a four-county region, including Camden, Miller, Morgan and Dallas counties. Friend said those are the areas they currently are representing, but hope to expand that in the future, taking in additional counties that currently don't have FOP coverage.
According to the Missouri FOP's website, the FOP national organization held its first meeting in 1915 with the sentiment to give the opportunity for a group to represent and support fellow police officers, now having 21,000-plus members. The Missouri FOP has more than 5,300 members in the state and has more than 25 local lodges that provide support and fraternalism to their respective memberships, the website stated.
As many division, state and regional FOP lodges were created over the years, the FOP was not just a place for police officers to support each other but also help support the community in which they work.
"We all work for our individual departments, but at the FOP it is not about our departments. We can assist Lake Ozark Police Department with their department's programs as the FOP and they could help others with similar missions," Friend said. "We can do the same thing with any departments in the areas we encompass. It is about supporting fellow police officers and also the community. It's a good fraternal organization. It allows us to communicate with other law enforcement officers that don't get to necessarily do so in their normal work environment."
Friend said currently the Lake of the Ozarks Regional FOP is finalizing by-laws and other details, making sure their lodge is established properly. However, they also have discussed certain community involvement initiatives.
"We have thrown some things out on the table, such as looking at some community programs to help senior citizens around the area," Friend said. "Plus, national organization has FOP and Kids program, which we hope to be involved with. We have done some research and plan do charitable services in the community."
Friend said they encourage law enforcement in the area to contact the newly established Lake of the Ozarks Regional FOP about membership and any questions they might have about their service to the community. They plan to meet monthly and are excited to see how the FOP lodge develops.
For more information, contact Friend at 573-746-1560. A website is currently being developed, but for additional information about the Missouri FOP, visit www.mofop.org.