England, Germany, Australia, Spain, South Africa -- or how about San Diego, Vancouver, Ft. Lauderdale? Name your destination.Twenty dollars a year buys you membership in The International Police Association (IPA) -- the worst-kept secret of the police fraternity. IPA buys you a passport into that elite society of the world's police -- where you will always feel at home.The International Police Association, has more than 290,000 police members in 58 nations throughout the Free World.The U.S. Section is divided into 49 Regions with over 9,600 members. All you need to join is a $5 enrolment fee, $20 per year dues, and be an active or retired full-time police officer.IPA was conceived and developed by in 1950 by Sgt. Arthur Troop of England, who advocated total nondiscrimination within IPA, including rank, gender, race and ethnic background. Troop also envisioned the improvement of the service by exchanging training techniques and professional police practices. His concept took root in Europe and has grown worldwide since then.IPA does not lobby for legislation, or negotiate contracts, or advocate political action, or sell insurance, or even ask that you attend any meetings!IPA does encourage, stimulate and assist in social, cultural and friendly relationships among peace officers, thus law enforcement worldwide. All this while making it possible to travel reasonably and affordably among member nations.How?IPA members exchange homes and vacations, open their homes (often free), rent discounted vacation homes, provide information on the best rates at local lodging facilities, and when possible, provide meals, transportation, tours and contacts with local police agencies.Hard to believe?Nick Aka, a cop from South Africa, while attending an IPA gathering in Vienna, mentioned that he and his wife would like to visit Spain. Within a day he was invited by Alan Bird, an IPA member from the UK, to occupy their vacation house on the beach in Alicante, Spain.Nick Mileur, a deputy from California, got a great discount on a first-class hotel and a free ride in a US Park Police Bell Ranger helicopter while visiting Washington D.C.A chance meeting with a Hungarian IPA member in Europe brought an invitation to visit Hungary. My wife and I spent two days in Hungary where we were wined and dined, provided a police van, a guide, an interpreter and an insider's tour of Budapest.However, you do not have to travel to meet other IPA members. They'll come to you. For instance, Region 29 in Sacramento, California, regularly hosts groups of British IPA members in their homes and conduct International Friendship Weeks where they entertain and host scores of foreign IPA visitors.The real value of belonging to IPA, however, is in the currency of friendship. You never meet a stranger when you're a member of IPA.Let's face it. Police are called a "closed society" because the job discourages close relations with civilians. Yet, it encourages near-instant camaraderie with other peace officers. One IPA member discovered: "Wherever you travel, there's always somebody who speaks your language -- even if you don't speak the same language."There is something special that happens when you tour with IPA. You meet people for the first time and communicate in a spirit of friendship, not in adversity, or with a critical view of another's country, language or politics. You want, in fact you strongly desire, to make friends, and your actions and responses are based upon this idea of a friendship imperative.Here's the finest opportunity you'll ever find if you're interested in traveling and meeting other police officers around the world. You'll never get a better chance. Grab it!

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