Document Type


Publication Date


Subject: LCSH

Police, Decision making


Criminology and Criminal Justice


For many professions, instruments of one sort or another are used almost routinely to assess the level of competence of professionals in decision-making relative to their particular occupations. Aircraft pilots, doctors, engineers, and the like are no strangers to such testing. Members of police departments, overall, have little exposure to such forms of assessment, even though they are required from time to time to make critical decisions regarding public safety. At the Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas (LEMIT), part of the Criminal Justice Center housed at Sam Houston State University, a piece of research has commenced to assess police officers’ levels of situational awareness, with the ultimate intention of designing training that enhances decision-making competence. This three-part series addresses the issues involved. The first paper examines the use of applied cognitive psychology in a law enforcement decision-making context; reviews the concept of human error, utilizing a few case studies; examines the concept of situation awareness; and finally addresses the differences between intuition and logical thinking. The second paper describes how simulation-oriented training helps law enforcement officers make better decisions, and the final paper describes how situation awareness assessment tools and simulation training work together.


(C) 2009 ILETSB. Posted by the express permission of Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board (ILETSB). For more information about Law Enforcement Executive Forum or the Board, visit the journal's web site,

Publisher Citation

Lim, H., & Webb, D. (2009).The need for situational awareness tools to improve police decision-making competence. Law Enforcement Executive Forum, 9(2), pp. 109-120.