The FPOA evolved to what it is today thanks to our law enforcement brethren from back in the 1950’s. With World War II over and G.I.’s returning home to sunny California, calls for service increased all over including the City of Fullerton. Old school foot patrols were going to have to step aside to more patrol cars and two way radios. More officers were needed to handle the community’s growing needs.
In 1951 the Department was increased to a total of 21 employees. By 1953 the men were earning $306 per month and working 48 hours a week. The chief of police at this time was Ernest Garner. During Chief Garner’s term as chief, wages were steadily increased, working hours were reduced to 40 hours per week, modern equipment was purchased, and the department continued to grow along with the city at a rapid rate.
On February 2, 1955, the Fullerton News Tribune announced that the “Fullerton policemen formed their own organization, The Fullerton Police Benefit Association”. According to Officer Fred King, President, the association would provide a form of insurance, a loan agency and a sponsor for social activities.
The organization was initially started for fraternal interests such as the annual New Year’s Eve party and summer picnic. It was patterned after other police benefit associations. The organization was to facilitate the handling of funds for police aid, charitable contributions and social functions. The dues were $1.00 per month and would provide $1000 insurance policy.
The FPBA assisted officers with insurance issues and initiated a fund from which members could borrow funds on a temporary basis. At this time officers were paid only once per month so it was easy to run short of cash just before payday. Small loans not to exceed $20 would be made from the funds by members without the need for paying interest. The organization would also make funds available to civic projects such as the Boys Club, St. Jude Hospital, aid for widows and orphans of members, donations for needy cases coming to the attention of the police department, and donations for such items as funeral flowers.
The Tribune also said that the first Board of Directors were: Officer Fred King, Officer Louis Parker as vice-president, Matron Helen Valentino as secretary-treasurer, and Sgt. Charles Davis as sergeant at arms. They held breakfast meetings every three months.
The FPBA was formally incorporated in 1962. The FPBA was starting to change in both members and duties. The department’s political atmosphere of the time was such that a strong and binding association was not practical. As time progressed there became a real need for employee representation for such issues as wages, benefits and working conditions. The officers themselves realized theses needs and made the decision to make their “group” stronger. They began by forming a wage negotiation representation team. They attended classes on their own time to gain the proper knowledge in dealings and negotiations of wage and benefit contracts.
In the late 1960’s, the president became the primary negotiator with the city. Prior to this the chief of police informally represented the officers and argued that he could not hire competent officers unless a certain level of salary was paid. For many years if any salary increase was given it was the same increase granted to the Fire Department even though the job load, job stress and risks were far different than any fireman would experience. In the early years of the association salary increases and benefits were not very dramatic and issues of equipment, officer safety and other benefit matters were not part of the negotiations.
As times changed so did the FPBA. Issues became more complicated in representing the membership. No longer was the focus just on wage and benefit issues. The legal atmosphere of society had changed. Officers were held to a much higher standard than in prior times. Officers were more tightly scrutinized for their actions both on and off duty. The area of contract negotiations also became more and more complicated. This required far more expertise than in previous times. The Association stepped forward in retaining a law firm full time to assist in all aspects of their member’s needs and representations. A formal dues structure was set in place to meet the expenses of the increased representation.
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