Virtues of Magnanimous Officers * 

“He most lives who thinks most, feels the noblest, acts the best” — Aristotle

Why Become a MAGNUS Officer

Becoming a MAGNUS officer is your path to individual happiness and accomplishment; it is the road to creating a successful career in policing.

Policing continuously evolves.  We are in an era of policing where the police professional must help improve community wellbeing based on mutual trust and respect while maintaining safety and security.  Whether you have just graduated from the basic academy or you are in a senior position, how you do your job, the influence you have, and the legacy you leave will help shape how policing services are delivered long into the future.  In the process of pursuing a virtuous life, which is principally knowing right from wrong and acting accordingly, you will receive much more from life.  Know that your journey to becoming the very best police professional you can be begins here as you learn to become MAGNUS.

The Roots of the Magnanimous Officer

Aristotle introduced the virtue of Magnanimity, 340 BC, in Book IV of his “Nicomachean Ethics and Eudemian.”[1]  Magnanimity, magnus = great and animus = mind, means greatness of mind or spirit. It defines a person who disdains injustice and meanness even though it may mean sacrifice of personal ease, interest, and safety to accomplish useful, noble objectives.

Aristotle defined the Magnanimous Man[2] as the Virtuous Man.[3]  Thus, from MAGNanimoUS we derive the term MAGNUS law enforcement officer who embodies Magnanimity, Self-control, Prudence, Humility and Gratitude.  Magnus also means great.  The virtues of the Magnanimous Man have guided people and civilizations over 2,300 years and are just as pertinent today to everyone as they were then.   

Our more recent roots in English law enforcement are seen in the basic ideals of policing outlined by Sir Robert Peel.  He took inspiration from living magnanimously and built policing based on community trust and engagement (humility), the use of reasonable force as a last resort (wisdom), impartiality without favor (fairness) while operating under the law (courage) all with efficient and effective collaborative crime prevention.  Peel then based policing in the natural fact that, the police are the public and the public are the police.[4]

MAGNUS officers serve and protect with character, shared vision, and credible leadership while pursuing virtuous lives based on trusting relationships with consequences that better themselves and the common good.

The MAGNUS Officer Defined

The MAGNUS Officer is action oriented, fair, and professional in every way.  They develop the habit of making deliberate choices guided by sound reason, professional ethics, and personal character.  These actions are not convenient, isolated behaviors; MAGNUS officers embody true professionalism guided by the continuous professional study and practice of virtuous living.  They do magnanimous deeds by acting deliberately with compassion.  The MAGNUS officer conducts him/herself with prudence and self-control.   They are credible because he/she embodies the noble cause of serving justice with character built on virtuous servant–guardianship. MAGNUS officers are accountable and take full responsibility for their actions even though a course of action may be risky – but the right thing to do.  In other words, they conduct themselves on and off the job with a moral compass and moral courage while paying forward the rewards of life and especially by building the credibility of the policing profession.

Virtues of the MAGNUS Officer

MAGNUS Officers protect their morals by conducting their lives free from wrongdoing caused by immoral, illegal or unethical behavior.  They embody a synergistic combination of virtues exemplified by the following:   

TruthfulnessMAGNUS Officers are honest.  They take special care to be truthful and immediately come forward when made aware of dishonest conduct.

IntegrityMAGNUS Officers never compromise honesty. This includes never accepting bribes or stealing from or defrauding others.  They protect property under their care.

HonorMAGNUS Officers earn respect by merit.  They are capable and well-rounded.

Nobility MAGNUS Officers are guided by an internal moral compass.  They are driven by a strong sense of Service, Justice, Peace and Equity. They never act dishonorably.

HumilityMAGNUS Officers are modest.  They maintain a humble attitude that is reverent, grateful, and respectful even while faced with resistance, ridicule, or disrespect. MAGNUS Officers are content with their position, compensation and status.  They see without envy the success of others as their success and the success of the team.

Faithfulness – MAGNUS Officers are obedient.  They respect and abide by established laws of the State and the Constitution.  They are loyal to superiors while realizing they represent more than themselves; this includes the trust of those they serve, the authority of government, organizational standards, and the ideals of the police profession.[5]


Respect – MAGNUS Officers are reverent.  They refrain from vulgar, obscene, coarse, or offensive language or conduct which diminish personal credibility.

ResponsibilityMAGNUS Officers take their obligations seriously.  They recognize that family is the foundation of society, thus they work to strengthen their own families and those of others. 

PrudenceMAGNUS Officers are judicious.  This is exemplified by sound reasoning, adaptive decision-making, and thoughtful action. They avoid malicious responses while using only that amount of reasonable force necessary to accomplish lawful objectives.

GratitudeMAGNUS Officers are grateful.  They acknowledge the meaningful life gifts they possess and will receive.  They are quick to express how others have contributed to their successes; in turn they are dedicated to the successes of the community and ever grateful to those invested in their lives and the lives of others.[5]

Characteristics and beliefs of the MAGNUS Officer

MAGNUS Officers work on understanding who they are and free themselves from bitterness, anger, or prejudice toward others.  They believe in the following:

Shared VisionMAGNUS Officers are goal oriented.  They inspire others to be likewise by sharing leadership.  They embody the highest ideals of the law enforcement profession. They embody strict standards of conduct and set high expectations for themselves and others.  MAGNUS officers by their example strengthen others to pursue causes greater than self.

Shared LeadershipMAGNUS Officers realize that the whole is greater than the sum.  They realize that shared leadership is an open-minded approach which inspires organizational commitment, deeper pride in self and the agency, and results in cooperatively building community-based initiatives that reduce crime and improve citizenry well-being.

Self-Awareness & Self-Control – MAGNUS Officers invest time to get to know self and free themselves from bitterness, anger, or prejudice toward others; never responding violently out of wrong attitudes, but using only that amount of force necessary to accomplish the lawful objectives that are consistent with those authorities placed over them.

Being A Catalyst for ProgressMAGNUS Officers are action-oriented.  They exemplify leadership by rising above harmful thoughts, words and actions.  They are inspirations of positive direction within an organization by continually seeking ways to serve the community.

HealthMAGNUS Officers are actively involved in personal readiness.  This includes physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual wellness.  They are fit by maintaining proper rest, diet, and exercise.  They are always ready for duty by continuously pursuing general knowledge, technical skills, and personal and professional development.  And they remain enthused about life and the honor of serving as a police officer.

MAGNUS Officers exemplify the best of the policing profession.  MAGNUS officers are mentors.  They recognize and embrace their role as leaders and role-models while promoting magnanimity within their organizations and among the citizens they serve. They believe that conducting themselves virtuously and serving as a MAGNUS officer are both duty and honor.   


  1. Aristotle. (2004). The Nichomachean Ethics. (H. Tredennick, Ed., J. A. K. Thomson Trans. & J. Barnes, Intro.). New York, New York: Penguin.
  2. Howland, J. (2002). Aristotle’s Great-Souled Man.  Review of Politics, 64 (Winter 2002): pp. 27-56.
  3. Havard, A. (2007). Virtuous Leadership: An Agenda for Personal Excellence. Scepter Publishers.
  4. Gaunt, R. (2010). Sir Robert Peel: The Life and Legacy. I.B. Tauris. London.
  5. Nash, R. (1999). The Ten Virtues of a Law Officer. Police Dynamics Institute, Inc.


* Mitch Javidi, Ph.D; Sheriff Ray Nash; James Klopovic, DPP; Lt. Christopher Hoina, Sr. MA;  Anthony H. Normore, Ph.D; Timmy Valenti, JD; Lt. Col. Wellington Scott; Col. Randy Watt; Chief Bill Cooper; Chief Ward Clapham; Terry Anderson, Ph.D; Lt. Brian Ellis; Sherry Bass; Alexander Javidi (Copyright, 2016).

The Magnanimous Officer “MAGNUS” is developed under copyright law by the International Academy of Public Safety (IAPS), the Institute for Credible Leadership Development (ICLD) and the Criminal Justice Commission for the Credible Leadership Development (CJC-CLD). Copyright © 2016 IAPS, ICLD & CJC-CLD.  All rights reserved.

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For more information, please contact Ms. Sherry Bass at