Over the next few days, you may notice hundreds of Pennsylvania's law enforcement officers visiting the city of Erie and enjoying the hotels, restaurants and recreation that the city offers.

That's because Erie and the Erie area FOP lodges are hosting the statewide FOP convention here for the first time since the early 1980's.

It means that hundreds of members from about 100 FOP lodges all across Pennsylvania are visiting the city of Erie for several days.

Registration began Sunday from 11am to 4pm.  Representatives from Pennsylvania FOP lodges have been checking into hotels, and spending money at area restaurants and bars and even joining in fishing charters and other recreational offerings.

According to Sgt. Justin Stidham, President of Erie FOP Lodge #7, about 400 to 500 FOP members are in town for the convention, many of them bringing along guests to enjoy the region as well.  He estimates the total number of visitors at around 600 people.

The FOP members are officers from the Pennsylvania State Police, local police departments across the state, the PA Fish and Boat Commission or they may work in probation and parole.

Their four day convention opens at 9am Monday at the Bayfront Convention Center with a memorial service for fallen officers. That ceremony is open to non-members.

Then those attending the convention will be welcomed by Erie Police Chief Dan Spizarny, Erie County District Attorney Beth Hirz, Erie Mayor Joe Schember, and County Executive Brenton Davis.

FOP union members will spend the week in educational seminars and committee meetings on all of the current issues facing law enforcement across Pennsylvania.  That includes COVID recovery and health care, legislative issues, use of force and arbitration.  

Hosting the convention in Erie is also an opportunity to showcase what the Erie

region has to offer to the rest of the state.  Convention goers will be entertained at Oliver's Beer Garden, enjoy 8 Great Tuesdays, and a special dinner and concert by Chris Higbee at the BCC.  

The convention wraps up Thursday at noon.