Hamline News

Ramsey County Sheriff (DPA '03) to Conduct Research Full-time at Oxford

Ramsey County Sheriff Matt Bostrom DPA ‘03 has long been asking how police hiring practices can focus more on character traits rather than skills-based assessments. After serving as sheriff since 2011, Bostrom will retire to continue research he started at the Hamline School of Business in a study at the University of Oxford. His research could have a direct impact on communities across the globe by developing a model of his signature “high character policing.”

While studying in the Public Administration Programs, Bostrom focused on hiring practices that maximize police character rather than strictly skill. His dissertation, entitled The Impact of Higher Education on Police Office Work Habits, defined a quantitative relationship between professionalism and education. He concluded that officers with bachelor of arts degrees often received more commendations and had fewer accidents or injuries, regardless of age.

Bostrom was elected as the Ramsey County sheriff in 2010 after nearly 29 years as a member of the Saint Paul Police Department. In 2011, the Sheriff’s Office implemented a character-based hiring process, and this change in officer selection has already had a large impact on the community. According to KSTP-TV, the officers that Bostrom has hired use less sick leave, get fewer injuries, receive more commendations, and have not been sued for excessive force.

 “We have an opportunity to accomplish something great for our profession,” said Bostrom in a press briefing. “If we are successful, the tool we develop could be used by agencies across the world.”

At Oxford, Bostrom will continue to look at hiring practices as he leads a study with Dr. Ben Bradford at the Centre for Criminology. This research project addresses “high-character policing” to develop a model of his signature program as sheriff. This will continue research he started at Hamline by identifying character-based processes to hire officers in varying geographic locations and law enforcement agencies.

 You can read more about Bostrom’s announcement in the Star Tribune, Pioneer Press, KSTPKARE11, and FOX9.