The new Police Dynamics blog has already generated some interest after only 24 hours! Thanks to those of you who have taken the time to subscribe and to comment.

One of the topics I see talked about a lot in the blogosphere is the definition of character. We can go to the dictionary but a good working definition is a bit elusive. It’s a lot like pornography — you know it when you see it (I know, bad example. But there was actually a Supreme Court decision that ruled that way…).

Or maybe more importantly — you know it when you don’t see it.

Either way, it’s sometimes hard to pin down a definition.

I’ve heard this one quite a bit: “Character is who you are when no one else is around.” This captures a piece of the pie, but I like to add “… and you don’t think you’re going to get caught!”

The definition I have used in Police Dynamics training over the years comes partially from the folks at the Character Training Institute. They say “character is the inward motivation to do the right thing regardless of the circumstances.” I like this definition, too. But it was pointed out to me in a recent comment that this is a description of “good character,” because your character can be either good or bad.

I also like to add to this definition the following phrase – “… and regardless of the costs.” Because sometimes doing the right thing might cost you something. It could cost you a friend; it could cost you a court case; or it could cost you your job. Men and women of true character are willing to pay the price.

Many of you have already paid the price of good character many times over, and I applaud you for it. Thanks for setting such a good example. And feel free to share some of your experiences here, by the way.

And be sure to keep track of my blog by subscribing to the email feed for future posts. I’ve got some more good stuff coming.

And remember to “Keep up the good character!”

Sheriff Ray

About the Author

5 Responses to A Working Definition of Character

  1. Good morning Sheriff Ray!

    Thanks for the comment and nice to hear from you again.
    I wanted you to know that I kept my word and have checked out your blog. I’ll definitely mark it as a favorite and have already posted it on my Facebook page for others to discover.
    Well spoken blog entry, and I like that you balanced it with a few angles. Interesting: “Who you are when no one else is around, regardless of cost and when you don’t think you’re going to get caught” That is a good definition of “character” as that can indeed encompass either “good” or “bad” character. I do find it interesting, or maybe not so surprising that you added “don’t think you’re going to get caught”. That’s so… policeman like 😉

    Good character is so vital to a smoothly running society but I worry a lot these days about the lack of general conscience in many people’s characters and/or very different worldviews.

    As you mentioned, there are many times when there is no one around, and the only consequence of your actions may be what you gain, and the reaction of your “conscience”. I do a lot of personal development reading and Stephen Covey once said that it is very important to “educate your conscience” – that it’s important to read the ancient moral texts in, as he said “your chosen faith”. To me that means the Bible, and it is so true. Unless we read the word regularly and unless people teach us as we are growing up what right and wrong means, our consciences will not develop. I think we need a sensitive conscience in order to make the kind of choices that “good character” requires.


    • Well said. You are obviously a deep thinker on this subject. The Bible speaks about a conscience becoming “seared as with a hot iron” and that if you reject a good conscience, your faith can become “shipwrecked” (I love that term…). My message for Chapel this Sunday will focus on properly responding to the God-appointed authorities in your life, a foundational Biblical principle.

      And thanks for promoted my blog site. I’m new to this idea but trying to build a solid network…

    • You will like this video put out by the Character Training Institute. It’s called ” the Fence or the Ambulance”.

  2. Very good! thank you for sharing! I will come back again to be inspired by your writings! =)

    • Thanks, Jill. I’m just getting started, but I’m having fun with it. I’ve been doing character-based training for about 15 years all over the world, I’ve designed websites, written a book, and produced training videos. But I’ve never done blogging! So I’m hoping that with support from good folks like you that I can build a strong network. I want to expand into more general topics that are not specifically law enforcement related. I also want to do some video blogging… maybe later today!

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Sheriff Ray Nash

Sheriff Ray Nash

What Law Enforcement and Community Leaders Are Saying About Police Dynamics

“A few years ago, we brought the Police Dynamics program to the Cincinnati Police Division and were most impressed with the quality of the training and richness of the program.”
Mike Daly
Character Council of Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky

"I have attended training conducted by the Police Dynamics Institute in the past and know Ray Nash both personally and professionally. They have my whole-hearted endorsement…"
Sheriff Larry Williams
Orangeburg, SC

"I cannot tell you how excited I am to see this website. I was introduced to your video on the Dynamics of Authority through my father who is a police chaplain for the FBI and local law enforcement agencies here in Las Cruces. I have taught and applied the Dynamics model to my students when I was a teacher, and now to my department as a fire fighter."
Nathan Carr
Las Cruces Fire Dept.

“One of the greatest seminars I have ever attended in the 33 years I’ve been a Deputy.”
Walter Bolinger
Marion County Sheriff’s Office, IN

"I was so impressed by the (Police Dynamics) program that I purchased your video tape series. All Grand County Sheriff’s Employees subsequently viewed the tapes, and I have also mandated that all new Sheriff’s Employees watch it as well."
Glen Trainor
Grand County Sheriff’s Office

"It is with much enthusiasm that I encourage senior law enforcement executives to make attending the Police Dynamics seminar a key training priority for your agency."
DeWayne Beggs
Cleveland County, OK
former 2nd VP - National Sheriff's Association

"I am convinced of the benefits of the Police Dynamics program."
Jerry Martin
Delores County, CO
former Pres - County Sheriff's of Colorado

"Honestly, I’ve not been more impressed with a police training that I’ve attended in the last 20 years..."
Tom McClain
Chief of Police
Willard, MO

"I am a firm believer that Police Dynamics and Character First! equip the men and women that work for the Oklahoma Sheriff’s Office to do their job and do it better."
John Whetsel
Oklahoma County, OK

"If you believe that good character is an essential element in policing, you will want to send your key staff to Police Dynamics."
David Williams
Tarrant County, TX

"In the three years prior to our character initiative, we had 42 labor and employee grievances, and seven different lawsuits. In the three years since we put the character initiative in place, we have had two grievances and no lawsuits from employees. I think that, in and of itself, is significant."
Rodney Ray
City Manager
Owasso, OK

"This course was one of the best training sessions that I’ve been through. This concept will benefit me and the staff in my division."
Police Dynamics participant

[We have] more awareness of the preventative benefits of a character initiative as opposed to the typical reactive approach to situations. There is a sense of excitement by organization leaders as they begin to see a change in their culture. Bob Powell
Character Council
Fort Collins, CO

"[The Police Dynamics training] brings us closer together, more like a family … it reminds us of why we’re out there and what it’s about.”
Captain John Decker
Dorchester County Sheriff's Office, SC

"This class gave me the vocabulary that I have been looking for to praise and motivate my employees."
Police Dynamics participant

"We’ve built a much better relationship with each other. We’ve seen a decrease in complaints. We’ve become a family instead of a place to work."
Sheriff Howie Godwin
Highlands County, FL

“This shows us a new approach to recognize employees’ character traits - and to acknowledge them for those good traits versus, 'You did an excellent job…' It’s some fresh ideas in an area that we probably all need to change."
Major P.D. Taylor
Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office

"The Police Dynamics training that Ray Nash brought teaches the things that are at the core of being a good police officer – being trustworthy, being of good character…"
Sgt. Julie Shearer
Cincinnati Police Div.

“In the Police Dynamics training seminar, the officers are able to set a standard in their own lives of the kind of character they want to see in their community."
Chaplain Carl Nelson
Colorado Springs Police Department

"Character is the solution to the real problem in our community of crime. Character supplies the answer."
Hon. F.A. Schad
Former Judge
Burleson, TX

“I want you to know that my international and national career was very much influenced by your lessons and knowing you was of paramount importance for my job and career. Many Romanian police officers are grateful to you and to Character training."
Teofil Parasca
Assistant Superintendent
Arad County Police

"I would like to work more toward management by principles instead of rules – with an emphasis on character and guiding principles."
Chief Lynn Williams
Chickasha, OK

“We need to return to our basic character traits that made this country great. Ray Nash has the program to do it."
Police Dynamics participant

"This shows us a new approach to recognize those employees’ character traits and to recognize and acknowledge them for those good traits versus, “You did an excellent job…” It’s some fresh ideas in an area that we probably all need to change."
Major P.D. Taylor
Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office

"In the three years prior to our character initiative, we had 42 labor and employee grievances, and seven different lawsuits. In the three years since we put the character initiative in place, we have had two grievances and no lawsuits from employees. I think that, in and of itself, is significant."
Rodney Ray
City Manager
Owasso, OK

"Absolutely fantastic! It reminded me of why I wanted to be a peace officer."
Police Dynamics participant

"the finest value-added training anywhere."
Sheriff David Williams
Tarrant County, TX

"We continue to benefit from your teaching and hire with a strong emphasis on character."
Chief Tom McClain
Willard, MO

"Once again, I feel absolutely indebted to you for the program you have developed and your desire to change the world through the building of better law enforcement officers."
Glen P. Trainor
Grand County, CO

"Sheriff Ray Nash is an internationally recognized speaker that you and your staff will learn powerful principles from, while enjoying the lesson."
DeWayne Beggs
Cleveland County, OK

"Very comprehensive, a great resource manual for the future. The seminar was dynamic in every way. What a great resource for people throughout their day-to-day routines.”
Doug Carter
Indiana State Police