We are challenged, not only in Minneapolis, but in Atlanta and elsewhere, to set appropriate expectations for our police officers. The challenge implicates virtue, ethics and morality at the level of organizations and individuals – topics of interest to the Caux Round Table for Moral Capitalism (CRT).
Some years ago, we provided ethical principles for government, specifically the principle that public office is a public trust. This is the principle long since applied in British constitutional practice. This standard would encompass policing.
Most likely not by coincidence, in 1829, Sir Robert Peel promulgated 9 ethical principles to govern the mission and behaviors of the new police force in London. His principles apply the standard of public trust to the relationship of the police to the community.
Separately, we have tried to draw attention to virtue and good character as the foundation for responsibility in the use of power. The then Sheriff of Ramsey Country, Matt Bostrom, advocated the practice of community policing to great success. Matt was a member of our council on character formed to promote character education in public education. John Harrington, when Chief of Police in St. Paul, and now Commissioner of Public Safety, also promoted community policing in his department.
Matt is now working on a Ph.D. at Oxford University on community policing and hiring for character to recruit the most qualified individuals for that approach to policing. Matt has conducted a number of focus groups to elicit community opinion on those character traits of sworn officers most influential in obtaining community trust in its police.
Given current demands for reform of policing, even “defunding” the Minneapolis Police Department, the CRT will convene a workshop on policing as a public trust, including a presentation of his research findings by former Sheriff Bostrom.
The workshop will be held from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm on Friday, July 17 at the Landmark Center in downtown St. Paul. Social distancing will be observed and participation will be limited to 25 participants. A box lunch will be provided. The fee for attendance is $25. Register here.