2023 National Law Enforcement Hall of Fame – Dr. Bill Lewinski

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On March 30, 2023, Dr. Bill Lewinski was inducted into the National Law Enforcement Officer Hall of Fame, where he was honored with the Lifetime Law Enforcement Trainer Award.

Generations of police trainers, investigators, and attorneys have relied on the work of Dr. Lewinski to develop training, conduct sophisticated investigations, and achieve honest accountability.  With his team at Force Science, Dr. Lewinski has spent over four decades inspiring and equipping law enforcement toward constant improvement in police training, investigations, and case evaluations. 

As new generations of criminal justice practitioners enter the profession, they will benefit from the work of Dr. Lewinski before ever learning his name.  On the occasion of his Hall of Fame induction, I am honored to reintroduce and celebrate the incredible work of Dr. Bill Lewinski.

Who is Dr. Bill Lewinski?

Dr. William Lewinski is the co-owner, executive director, and senior researcher for Force Science—a research, training, and consulting company committed to understanding human performance during force encounters.  

After earning a B.A. in Psychology and Sociology, Dr. Lewinski spent three years studying graduate coursework in Psychology at Minnesota State University, the University of Vermont, and the Alfred Adler Institute in Chicago.  Ultimately earning an M.A. in Counseling from the University of Arizona, Dr. Lewinski turned his academic efforts to understanding the highly specialized and early growth of police psychology. 

As part of his research and academic training, Dr. Lewinski conducted clinical internships with the Behavioral Science Units of the Tucson Police Department and the Pima County, AZ, Sheriff’s Office.  Supervised and trained by renowned police behavioral psychologist Dr. Kevin Gilmartin, Dr. Lewinski completed his Ph.D., with a concentration in police psychology.

With a Ph.D. in psychology, Dr. Lewinski spent 28 years as a professor at Minnesota State University.  He worked as the Director of the Law Enforcement Program and Chairman of the Political Science/Law Enforcement Department.  He continues his relationship with Minnesota State as a Professor Emeritus and visiting faculty member.

From Research to Application

While at Minnesota State University, Dr. Lewinski founded the Force Science Research Center within the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences.  As a high-level athlete and martial artist, Dr. Lewinski expanded his research interest and training to include physical skills training and optimal performance development.

In the early 2000s, Dr. Lewinski left full-time university teaching to start the Force Science Institute (renamed Force Science in 2022).  Without the university responsibilities, Dr. Lewinski was able to concentrate on the study of real-world force encounters, ultimately interviewing over 3,000 officers involved in police-related shootings. 

With his unique and expanding experience, Dr. Lewinski and Force Science quickly became the preeminent police training and consulting experts in human performance during critical incidents.  Dr. Lewinski and his team equipped agencies, courts, and communities to fairly evaluate police performance and decision-making.  Through professional education and high-quality research, Force Science reminded those who evaluate force encounters that there was always a perfectly imperfect human behind the badge.

To ensure that judges and juries were not imposing expectations beyond human performance capabilities, Dr. Lewinski and his team researched the capabilities and limitations of police performance in shooting scenarios.  How fast can officers draw?  How fast can assaults occur?  How fast can a suspect turn and run?  Dr. Lewinski and his team were perfectly positioned to ask and answer these questions within the Force Science Research Division.

Force Science Research

Force Science is organized into four divisions: the research division, the learning and development division (curriculum development and trainer development), the training division, and the consulting division.

The Force Science research division conducts research related to police training, safety, and performance. Topics include how training design can influence officer learning, how and why unintentional discharges can occur, and how officers and suspects might perform and mentally process during force encounters or other critical incidents (i.e., how fast they shoot, how fast they can move, how much they can remember).

In the last 20 years, Force Science has completed nearly 30 peer-reviewed studies, many addressing human performance during lethal force encounters.  Readers familiar with Force Science have likely seen summaries of this research published in professional trade magazines (i.e., Police Marksman, Police1, ILEETA, Lexipol), which provide practitioners fast and convenient access to critical research findings.

The publication of research summaries in trade magazines is an important vehicle for educating law enforcement.  However, Dr. Lewinski understood the importance of the peer-review process.  As a result of his efforts and incredible staff over the years, Force Science research has been peer-reviewed and published in some of the top-ranked national and international professional journals.  These Journals include Applied Ergonomics, Law and Human Behavior, Behavior Analysis in Practice, and Police Practice and Research.

Extending Influence Beyond the Profession

Dr. Lewinski’s reputation as a researcher and scholar allowed him to extend his influence beyond Force Science publications. He remains a trusted journal reviewer for multiple professional journals, where he evaluates the quality and integrity of scientific and scholarly research.

Dr. Lewinski is a reviewer for the American Psychological Association’s Journal, Psychology, Public Policy, and Law. He is also a reviewer for the top-ranked Applied Ergonomics journal and other highly-rated professional journals and programs.1

Beyond Force Science: Building the Interdisciplinary Team

It is often imagined that Force Science training is founded solely on research conducted by Force Science. However, Dr. Lewinski understood that policing is a multi-disciplinary endeavor and that outside experts would be needed to fully investigate and understand police decision-making and performance.

Dr. Lewinski’s foresight resulted in top national and international experts developing and leading Force Science training.  With Dr. Lewinski’s guidance, these instructors have expanded Force Science’s curriculum to help students understand force encounters through the law, human factors, police practices, use-of-force decision-making, de-escalation, medicine, psychology, communications, and video technology.

Force Science’s full-time and contract faculty include top researchers and leaders within their professions.  These faculty members have collectively authored well over 1,000 independent peer-reviewed publications within their respective fields.

Although Dr. Lewinski is proud of the nearly 30 peer-reviewed studies he has completed and published, he quickly highlights that Force Science training is supported by thousands of external peer-reviewed studies published in professional journals across multiple disciplines. Knowing that Force Science could not stand on the back of one man’s research or expertise, Dr. Lewinski brought in top experts and built one of the most robust and diverse police training organizations in the world.

It’s Always Been About the Fair Accountability of Officers

Dr. Lewinski has created a research and training organization that has reached tens of thousands of students nationally and internationally.  Students have represented local police departments, county sheriff’s offices, and federal agencies—including Department of Justice and Homeland Security attorneys, U.S. Marshalls, the ATF, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

What is clear from the research and training legacy that Dr. Lewinski continues to build is his commitment to honest and fair accountability when officers are involved in force encounters.  He has built a team of consultants, in-house trainers, and adjunct faculty from among the best in the country.  He selflessly mentors his team, personally trains officers from across the country, and provides timely keynote addresses to update the field on his latest research and findings. Those closest to Dr. Lewinski know the hours he has spent educating attorneys, civic leaders, and officers–hours that occur at all times of the day or night and frequently without charging a dime for his assistance.

Dr. Lewinski and Force Science changed how use-of-force cases are investigated and presented to judges and juries.  He built a team that is counted among the most influential in shaping modern police training. Congratulations to Dr. Bill Lewinski for a well-deserved Lifetime Law Enforcement Trainer Award.

  1. Dr. Lewinski has conducted reviews for Policing: A Journal of Policy and Practice, Cognitive Processing – International Quarterly of Cognitive Science, Cognition, Technology and Work, Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies and Management, Police Quarterly, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (grant application reviewer). []
9 Responses
  1. Sherry E. Penn-Crawford, Ph. D.

    Bill, I am so proud of you. Congratulations on such a well-earned award. Your work has effected individuals and countries around the world and saved many lives.

  2. Martin Greenberg, MD

    Back in the day, in our police range, there hung a sign saying “Be a professional gunfighter.” We were never taught the other half of the equation:
    Are you entering a situation you can’t possibly win?
    Here, winning means surviving.
    Bill Lewinski has dedicated his entire professional career to defining these situations and teaching law enforcement to successfully deal with them.
    [Using] over a thousand peer reviewed articles [from top experts] in a period of over 40 years, his Force Science Institute has brought the behavioral sciences to use of force encounters.
    He has scientifically defined and educated us, for example, how with amazing speed humans can turn, run or shoot before it is possible to respond to,
    or to stop a response to their actions.
    He has also demonstrated that our thinking and memory under stress are very different than at other times.
    In court, he has successfully defended our brothers wrongly accused of high profile police malfeasance such as “you shot him in the back” or “you shot an unarmed person” (who quickly tossed their weapon) by demonstrating how we are all biologically “hard-wired” to respond in specific time frames.
    “It takes time to start shooting; it takes time to stop shooting.”
    In law enforcement training, Dr. Lewinski has brought modern psychological learning principles to the police academy and beyond so that we learn to win for a lifetime, not just to pass a test that day after which time our skills quickly degrade.
    Again, here, winning means surviving.
    The core principles of his doctrine include:
    – early context and scenario-based training;
    -avoiding “block and silo” instruction;
    -the blending of skills called interleaving;
    -building skills to an automatic level;
    -and utilizing interaction throughout a training cycle.
    The US Marsals Service, among other agencies, has adopted these ground breaking principles with great success.
    Through training, consulting and research, Bill and the Force Science Institute are still going strong.
    Force Science has saved and salvaged more law enforcement lives and careers than any other law enforcement entity in my opinion.

  3. Scott Bissen

    Well done, Bill. So deserved to someone that has dedicated his career to helping law enforcement. You have been an excellent influence in my life in so many ways. Congratulations again!

  4. Paul Dunkel

    Congratulations, Dr. Lewinski, on this well-deserved award and honor! You were my favorite professor at MSU and I have carried your valuable instruction throughout my 27 years In law enforcement. Thank you for the work you have done and continue to do.

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