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ULM’s Mkay Bonner, Ph.D., receives 2020 Psychology in the Public Interest Award

Published July 7, 2020

University of Louisiana Monroe Associate Professor Mkay Bonner, Ph.D., Licensed Industrial Organizational Psychologist, has received the Louisiana Psychological Association 2020 Psychology in the Public Interest award.



The LPA notified Bonner stating, “You were nominated by peers and chosen for the award based on your exemplary contributions to psychology. We were especially impressed with your work and its impact for police and first responders handling of various crises that could result in disparate use of inappropriate force or other behaviors.”

For 10 years, Bonner has been an Associate Professor of Criminal Justice in the School of Social Sciences in the College of Business and Social Sciences. Previously, she was an Adjunct Professor of Psychology at ULM for a decade.

 Bonner’s background in criminal justice and psychology provides her with combined expertise in both disciplines. She teaches graduate and undergraduate courses, including Criminal Behavior, Criminal Justice Ethics, Research Methods, Administration & Management in Criminal Justice Agencies, Industrial & Business Security, Internships, Psychological Assessment, Industrial Organizational Psychology, and Advanced Forensic Psychology.  

Bonner also serves as the Public Safety Psychologist for police, sheriff, and fire departments. She has extensively worked with or trained law enforcement and public safety personnel throughout Louisiana and the nation.

“We must understand them, how to talk to them, and discover the best methods for them to learn. In doing this, we have the potential to make a difference.” 
Mkay Bonner, Ph.D.
On successfully training
public safety personnel 

“For almost 20 years, I have conducted a variety of evaluations for pre-employment, fitness-for-duty, and officer-involved shootings,” she said.

Bonner is the co-coordinator and the co-lead instructor for the Northeast Delta Crisis Intervention Team. She has trained more than 1,000 people in over 80 classes.

“I have taught multiple courses at the North Delta Regional Police Academy, including Emotionally Disturbed Persons – Mental Illness, De-escalation, Stress Management, Cultural Diversity, and Police Survival.  

Bonner stressed that preparation and attention are required in all policing and public safety situations.

“I have found the foundations of the Crisis Intervention Team to be very valuable in many aspects of policing and public safety work. As programs evolve, different aspects become more or less important,” she said. 

“We have had great success with training law enforcement and fire department personnel in realistic de-escalation. Important to this success is using experiential learning techniques during the training. This turns a dry lecture into interactive problem-solving,” said Bonner.

Getting away from a “dry lecture” setting and being on the ground with officers and first responders provides the insight required to deliver the quality training Bonner described as “crucial.”

“The instructors must learn and understand the culture and environment of the work of public safety personnel. As professors, we cannot leave our office, open a book, lecture to them for two hours on mental illness, and expect it to make a difference,” Bonner said.

Her successful training methods come from one-on-one discussions, spending time on the job with public safety personnel, attending training classes, and even going on midnight ride-alongs.

“We must understand them, how to talk to them, and discover the best methods for them to learn. In doing this, we have the potential to make a difference,” she said.

Bonner is a ULM alumna, receiving her B.A and master’s in psychology here before earning her Ph.D. in Industrial Organizational Psychology from the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg.

Other accomplishments by Bonner include:

· Contributor to the training curriculum for the Louisiana Peace Officers Standards and Training Council 

· Author or co-author of many professional and academic journal articles and book chapters 

· Reviewer for the Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology