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Former New York cops form an FOP lodge of their own

By LONA O'CONNOR Palm Beach Post Staff Writer Saturday, October 18, 2008 If anyone ever doubted that Palm Beach County is New York City South, ask Stanley Kriegsman. By one of those Big Apple twists of fate, Kriegsman and two other former New York City police officers, who knew each other only casually from their NYPD days, all ended up living in the same neighborhood in western Boynton Beach, Venetian Isles. After a chance meeting at the community pool, they had a brainstorm: What Florida needs is a Fraternal Order of Police lodge just for retirees from New York State. Kriegsman, a 23-year veteran sergeant, estimates there may be about 2,000 retired New York state police who live here now. That's a hefty pool of potential members.

FOP is the world's largest organization of sworn law enforcement officers, counting more than 325,000 members in more than 2,100 lodges around the country, according to its website. But most FOP lodges only allow retirees as associate members. In Florida there is the further complication that many lodges also often function as bargaining agents for police officers still active in their careers.

'We knew that there was a large number (of retired New York police) living in the state, so we thought maybe we could form our own lodge, said Arnie Dansky, a deputy inspector who retired after 35 years.

The new lodge, NY3100, will focus its efforts on improving the lot of law enforcement officers. The name refers to NYPD's main phone number for many years, whose last digits were 3100. Kriegsman is NY3100 president, Dansky is vice president and Norm Rapport is treasurer. 'We're trying to help all the police,' said Kriegsman.

Dave Skrabec, president of FOP Lodge 35 in Boca Raton, was delighted to hear that. Skeptical at first, Skrabec became more enthusiastic after getting to know the New Yorkers. 'They have a wealth of knowledge,' he said. Besides going to bat for brother officers, NY3100 plans to raise money for charities.

'They want to help me legislatively and politically and use that arena to help benefit the officers,' said Jim Preston, president of the state FOP. 'There is that bond, that strength of brotherhood.'

After one article in the FOP national magazine, NY3100 got more than200 responses from all over Florida. They are meeting Oct. 29 in Port Charlotte and expect to add west-coast members. By the time they attend the national FOP convention in Long Beach, Calif., next year, they intend to have increased their numbers - and visibility.

'We've become the poster boys,' said Kriegsman. 'Everybody is so nice to us.' The Charlotte meeting is set for 7 p.m. at the Port Charlotte FOP Lodge, 23300 Harper Ave. For more information about FOP Lodge NY3100, e-mail fl_fop_ny3100@hotmail.com.

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