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Laura Zimmerman, PhD

      Dr. Laura Zimmerman received her Ph.D. in experimental psychology from University of Texas at El Paso in 2006. The focus of her dissertation was on understanding how police officers with varying levels of experience make decisions during critical incidents. Simultaneous with this research, she developed a police training course that utilized simulation training, extensive interviewing about decision processes, and an in-class course on critical incident decision making that incorporated lecture, video, class discussion, and decision making games. Her immediate plans include further research on the decision making processes of police officers as individuals and as teams in a wide variety of critical situations. The goal of this research program is to develop methodologies for obtaining decision-maker knowledge, to specify the situation assessment and action choice process of novice and experienced police officers, and to develop training courses to teach officers methods for enhancing their decision processes. She plans to develop decision making courses for use in regular police training and within multiple areas of law enforcement.

      While in graduate school Dr. Zimmerman worked in the Eyewitness Research Laboratory, focusing research on eyewitness issues. Her Master’s Thesis focused on memory enhancing eyewitness interview techniques. She conducted research on simultaneous and sequential lineups and assessed differences in eyewitness identification decisions. She assisted in consultation on court cases involving eyewitness identification issues, evaluated lineup fairness, and addressed case issues that relate to psychological research. She participated in the research and development of PC_Eyewitness, a computerized lineup administration program. She received her B.A. in Psychology, with a minor in Criminal Justice, from San Francisco State University in May 2000. At San Francisco State she participated in a research project involving the use of laptop computers in police cars, where she conducted field research by riding along with and recording the activities of patrol officers.

      Dr. Zimmerman currently conducts research and teaches at the El Paso County Sheriff’s Academy. She is certified by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education as a law enforcement instructor. Besides developing and teaching the 8-hr Critical Incident Decision Skills Training course, she developed and teaches a 16-hr course on Eyewitness Interviewing and Identification Techniques.



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