Advancing Higher Education in Law Enforcement
He’s reaped the benefits of college and mentorship. So he’s enabling rising police personnel to do the same.
To Tyree Blocker M’86, the link between higher education and law enforcement is crystal clear.
“Policing is about the people,” he says. “It’s about interpersonal skills. The more education that police officers and law enforcement personnel have, the better they can interact with citizens in a positive manner.”
Tyree’s accomplishments are a testament to that belief. He began his career with the Pennsylvania State Police as a trooper in 1975, gradually rising up the ranks.
In 2015, he was appointed as the 21st state police commissioner, a position he held until retiring in 2018.
Tyree believes his master’s degree in criminal justice from WCU played a critical role in his success.
“My instructors were very influential in my life,” he says. “Dr. Saul Greenberg talked about how important character and judgment are for policing. That really resonated with me.”
Tyree found another mentor in Colonel Ronald M. Sharpe — the first Black commissioner of a statewide police force.
“Ron was always available to share his wisdom and answer my questions,” Tyree says. “He was instrumental in encouraging me to seek promotions within the state police, even mentoring me in preparation for the exams.”
After Colonel Sharp died in 2004, Tyree found himself wanting to honor his mentor’s impact — both on himself and hundreds of other members of the Pennsylvania State Police.
The result was the Colonel Ronald M. Sharpe Memorial Scholarship, presented annually to a minority student majoring in criminal justice.
Tyree Blocker M’86
Creator, Colonel Ronald M. Sharpe Memorial Scholarship
"The more education that police officers and law enforcement personnel have, the better they can interact with citizens in a positive manner.”
“It was a special way to honor Ron not just as a professional, but as a good human being."
“The scholarship formation process was very easy to navigate,” Tyree says. “It was a special way to honor Ron not just as a professional, but as a good human being. And I’m encouraged that the scholarship signals how important higher education is with today’s law enforcement being positive, focused, and proactive.”
Investing in Our Students
Receiving the Colonel Ronald M. Sharpe Scholarship made a difference for Naseemah Jackson ’23 almost immediately.
“It helped me pay my graduation bill,” she says — an important step for this first-generation student who plans on attending law school after completing her degree in criminal justice.
Growing up in a violent West Philadelphia neighborhood, Naseemah developed a strong interest in civil rights and wrongful convictions. She’s currently President of the NAACP at WCU.
“The NAACP is the oldest and boldest organization,” Naseemah says. “They’ve helped a lot of people in my community, so it’s something I’m really proud to be a part of.”
Her course of study also includes a minor in African American Studies. “When I become a lawyer, I want to focus on creating
affordable legal representation for minorities,” she says. “Even as an African American woman, there’s still more to learn.”
“In the outside world, race relations and the law will intersect regardless of the circumstances — I want to be prepared for everything I intend to accomplish.”
Naseemah participated in the LSAC Prelaw Undergraduate Scholars (PLUS) Program at North Carolina Central University School of Law. Designed for undergraduates from minoritized groups who are underrepresented in the legal profession, the program prepares students for a successful legal education.