Kathleen O’Toole Speaks to Peace Colloquium
July 13, 2007
Students taking part in the Colloquium on Peace, Reconciliation, Social Justice and Global Citizenship this month had the opportunity to talk with Kathleen O’Toole, the inspector general of the Republic of Ireland.
A former Boston Police Commissioner and Massachusetts Secretary of Public Safety, O’Toole spoke of “Policing in a Democracy – from Boston to Northern Ireland.”
She said law enforcement is only a small part of the work of a police service – a term she prefers to police department. Police have recognized the need to work with a community rather than “fight a war on crime,” as O’Toole said she was taught in the Boston Police Academy.
This was the approach she used as a member of the Independent Commission on Policing in Northern Ireland (The Patten Commission), which developed a new framework for policing and security in Northern Ireland. At O’Toole’s insistence, the commission held 40 meetings throughout Northern Ireland to hear what people of all political and religious persuasions had to say about the police.
Four students from St. Mary’s University College, in Belfast, and seven Saint Anselm students are participating in the colloquium, which wraps up Saturday, July 14. O’Toole said that forums that bring young people from diverse backgrounds together more often held for executives and mid-career professionals, not students.
“Events like these are much more important because these students are the future,” she said. “That’s when I heard about this, I said, ‘I’m there.’ “