As early as 1897 a group of special police in Cleveland, Ohio, petitioned the American Federation of
Labor (AFL) for a charter. The AFL refused to grant them a charter and opposed the unionization of police.
They stated that it was not within their movement to especially organize policemen, nor more than to organize
militiamen, as both policemen and militiamen are often controlled by forces inimical to the labor movement".
(Heustis, 1958, p. 643) Between 1897 and 1919 the AFL rejected all applications received from police forces
In June 1919, they finally reversed their position and favored the organization of City policemen, and in August
they granted a union charter to a Boston policemen's organization. (Heustis, 1958, p. 643) Although the AFL
refused to grant charters prior to 1919 some City police organizations existed as early as 1895, and the biggest
police labor organization, the Fraternal Order of Police, came into existence in 1915.