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David Blake puts the Human Factor in Law Enforcement

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Alumnus David Blake opens his own consulting company specializing in teaching & expert witness work on the topic of human factors and police performance.

David Blake

Alumnus | Criminal Justice Management

Retired police officer and a Union Criminal Justice Management alumni David M. Blake, M.Sc., F.S.A., C.C.I. believed he could make a positive difference in law enforcement. That is why he opened his own consulting company specializing in teaching / expert witness work on the topic of human factors and police performance.

“As a working police officer, I have always had a great deal of passion for not only the practical, but also the academic aspects of policing. More specifically, I have a long history of studying human factors science and its inclusion within police performance during high stress critical incidents such as a use of force,” said Blake. “This area is vital to policing (in my opinion) in regards to policy, procedure, training, and after action review. It is also an area often ignored. It was my passion for the inclusion of the science in the policing world that led to opening a consulting company and engaging in teaching / expert witness work on the topic of human factors and police performance.”

Blake points out that Human Factors science is used in many professions. “Human Factors science encompasses several areas of psychology and ergonomics and has evolved to include many areas. The science is primarily concerned with human performance within a system. Human Factors science concerns itself with the capabilities and limitations of a human (cognition, vision, reaction time, motor performance, etc.) and how those human aspects apply to job tasks, tools, and performance within the environment,” said Blake. “The science is used in many industries such as; aviation, medicine, nuclear, and transportation. My hope is that law enforcement will fully consider Human Factors science in policy, procedure, training, and after action performance review.” 

The lack of Human Factors science often leads to harsh judgments made in high stress situations. “Most people do not consider how officers function under stress or what human factors (eg: vision, cognition, reaction time) led to their perceptions and performance. These very human aspects should always be considered when reviewing police performance in high stress environments,” said Blake. “Officers are fallible, function at the level of their training, and performance is dictated by human capabilities and limitations. For instance, the public does not consider that it takes three camera views and several officials in many sporting events to make a ruling on what happened on the field, yet the expectation is for police to perform to inhuman standards under the same rapidly evolving, tense and uncertain situations that one might find in high intensity sport.”

Blake is a 2010 Union Institute & University Criminal Justice Management Degree graduate. He thinks the critical thinking skills associated with the degree are crucial to a successful career in law enforcement. “The admissions process, the accreditation, and the acceptance of previously earned credit were all an important part of choosing Union. Once admitted, I found the coursework to be on point and interesting,” said Blake. “I highly recommend Union.” “The most important aspect of having an advanced degree is the critical thinking skills learned in higher education. Skills such as analyzation, interpretation, application and evaluation are paramount to a successful career in law enforcement. I highly recommend a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice for all law enforcement officers,” said Blake.

Union Institute & University’s major in Criminal Justice Management is a nationally recognized degree program designed to advance the careers of law enforcement personnel into supervisory, management, and executive positions within the criminal justice system.

Learn more about Union’s Criminal Justice degree program

Spotlight: Criminal Justice Management

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National Police Week allows opportunity to spotlight the Union Institute & University Criminal Justice Management degree program


Spotlight on the

Criminal Justice Management Program

The Union Institute & University Criminal Justice Management degree program is designed for the working law enforcement officer because it differs from other programs in one important way – the curriculum was designed by law enforcement professionals for law enforcement professionals.


Not only is the curriculum designed by specialists, but the courses within the program are taught by experts in the field who have experienced the various levels of chain of command from line employees, to support personnel, to supervisors. Eric Higgins, City of Covington, Police Detective and Union adjunct professor, explains how a college degree benefits the law enforcement officer. 

“Police departments and police academies do a very good job of training officers to shoot guns, drive in tough conditions, gain knowledge of the law and learn self-defense tactics. It takes weeks upon weeks for someone to master those skills, which leaves very little time for interpersonal communications. This is why a college degree and college experience is so important. A college education will offer life experiences, different ways to look at things and knowledge in a field of study. This is why police departments are putting an emphasis on having a college education, not just for the knowledge a person gets studying criminal justice but the life experiences that come from interacting with others who come from different walks of life or think differently than you,” said Higgins.

Every course has a management aspect in the delivery that is fundamental for the officer who wants to move up the career ladder into management. 

“After just two weeks into my first course at Union Institute & University, I was extremely inspired and motivated to complete my degree. In March 2013, I earned my Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice Management, graduating with a 4.0 GPA. Not only did Union Institute & University assist me in reaching my educational goal, but it also assisted me in obtaining the rank of Police Lieutenant,” said Frederick H. Bobbitt, 2013 graduate.

In addition to the service delivery from a management point of view, classes interpret and describe how current issues in the field impact organizations, personnel, community and other stakeholders. “With the knowledge students gain by studying criminal justice they put themselves in a position to influence the communities they live in, especially if they want to work in the criminal justice field. Knowledge is power and the power one gets from a better understanding of the criminal justice system will help us move forward as a society and lessen the tensions that currently exist,” said Higgins. 

It is a pleasure to salute over 2,247 law enforcement professionals who hold a Criminal Justice Management degree from Union Institute & University, and over 30 graduates who have continued up the ranks to become Chiefs of Police, Assistant Chiefs, or Sheriffs.

Learn more about Union’s Criminal Justice degree program

Union Celebrates the Life of Alumni Sonny Kim

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In recognition of National Police Week, Union celebrates the life of Sonny Kim, 2008 graduate in Criminal Justice.

Officer Kim transformed lives through his example as a father, husband, friend, community supporter, karate sensei, and member of Cincinnati’s elite Police Department. He lived his life by the Dojo kun five philosophical rules: Seek perfection of character, Be faithful, Endeavor to excel, Respect others, and Refrain from violent behavior. 

Another example of Officer Kim’s desire to transform lives was his determination to earn his college degree. In his application essay in 2007, Officer Kim understood that completing a degree would help his career, but more importantly, he wanted to earn his degree for his own personal accomplishment and satisfaction. One of Sonny’s professors, Dr. Ellen Marshall, told us the following: 

"Sonny was a great student. He was an example to follow. He was diligent with his studies and assignments. His work reflected depth of thought, understanding, and meaning. I could surmise from reading his work that he was an exceptional police officer. He often wrote about duty, honor, diligence, and personal dedication not only on the job, but also in life. I'm sure law enforcement and Cincinnati will feel his loss. He leaves a void that will be difficult to fill."

Union Institute & University bestowed the Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in Criminal Justice to Officer Kim on December 31, 2008. He will always symbolize the university’s core values of academic excellence, creative and critical thinking, theory and practice, social justice, diversity, and integrity. 

It is an honor to continue to celebrate the life of Sonny Kim. Earlier this week Officer Sonny Kim was honored in the Cincinnati Police Memorial Parade. As a leader in Criminal Justice Management degree programs, Union Institute & University asks all to join in the celebration of National Police Week. 

Learn more about Union’s Criminal Justice degree program