Jane Jacobs, who passed away in 2006, was an important observer of urban quality of life issues. In 1992 she published a slim volume entitled, “Systems of Survival,” (Vintage Books 1992, ISBN 0-679-74816-4) an attempt to define the moral foundations of commerce and politics. An observer of police organizations has to be fascinated with Jacob’s conclusions as to the foundation principles of government institutions, compounded into this simple list. As you go down the list, think about how each principle resonates with the behavioral norms of police organizations. Chuckles and smiles are acceptable – recognizing ourselves in the eyes of others.
The Guardian Moral Syndrome:
•Shun trading •Exert prowess •Be obedient and disciplined •Adhere to tradition
•Respect hierarchy •Be loyal •Take vengeance •Deceive for the sake of the task
•Make rich use of leisure •Be ostentatious •Dispense largesse •Be exclusive
•Show fortitude •Be fatalistic •Treasure honour •Stoicism
Jacobs has a matching, and quite different set of moral principles attributable to commerce. She concludes that major failures to both syndromes occur when one or the other attempts to adopt the opposing principles – ponderable advice for those intent on introducing the practices of commerce into public policing. Policing is a public service, not a business.