Did you receive one of these letters in the mail? I did. The Fullerton Police Officers’ Association evidently doesn’t do much to vet its mailing list. Either that or their assertion that I am “among the few to receive” the enclosed FPOA decal is a bit of an exaggeration.
The letter is an invitation to support the FPOA, the union representing sworn officers and other personnel of the the Fullerton Police Department. Why would you or I send money to a union that doesn’t represent us? FPD Detective and FPOA President Barry Coffman has an answer for us:
“Contributions made to the FPOA are used to support our organization members, to assist families of fallen officers, and are invested back into the community by supporting and sponsoring various local programs. Your donation will be for the sole use and support of the FPOA, but please know that this program is NOT political in nature.”
The letter doesn’t identify what programs the FPOA sponsors in the community, but a quick check to the Supported Charities page on their website lists several, including the Boys and Girls Club, Ronald McDonald House OC, Pathways of Hope, CHOC Hospital, and others. Det. Coffman doesn’t offer an explanation of why prospective donors shouldn’t just send a contribution directly to these non-profits that help children and homeless people instead of to a union for police officers.
In fact, donations made directly to these non-profits are normally tax deductible, unlike a donation made to the FPOA, who were thoughtful enough to include the following text in fine print at the bottom of their solicitation letter:
“This gift is not considered tax-deductible as a charitable contribution for Federal Income Tax purposes.”
Why isn’t it? Because unlike the Boys and Girls Club, Pathways of Hope, etc., the FPOA is not a 501-C3 non-profit organization. It’s a bargaining unit to secure better pay and working conditions for its members, just like any other union. Sure, you can donate to the United Farm Workers Union to show support for people who make peanuts picking produce all day in the hot sun, but police officers are pretty well compensated these days. Even “Police Officer Trainees” start at over $ 60,000 per year. “Academy” trained officers are offered as much as $ 80,000, according to the “Job Opportunities” page on the City of Fullerton website.
Det. Coffman also assures us that a contribution to “this program” is “NOT political in nature.” The need for his disclaimer is certainly understandable to anyone who recognizes the role the FPOA plays in contributing tens of thousands of dollars to its chosen candidates for public office every election cycle. The FPOA itself offers a fine two page history detailing its evolution from a humble “benefit” association in the 1950‘s to the robust purchaser of politicians it is today. It’s good reading.