Robert O’Block learned at an early age the value of obtaining an education.
No stranger to hard work, Robert O’Block paid his way through college by working as a law enforcement officer. Through sheer determination he finished his bachelor’s degree in three-and-a-half years. It was during this time Robert O’Block became interested in criminology, a subject that would become a driving force in his life.
By the age of 24, Robert O’Block had earned a bachelor’s degree and three graduate degrees in different fields, including a PhD, all while working full-time in law enforcement. At the age of 25, Robert O’Block became an assistant professor in the Department of Administration of Justice at Wichita State University. Dedicated to the field of law enforcement, Robert O’Block continued to serve as a reserve sheriff deputy (without pay) as he taught criminal justice full-time at the university. Working in law enforcement gave Robert O’Block real world experience that would play a significant role in his ability to teach the science of criminology and write the criminal justice textbook Security and Crime Prevention.
Robert O’Block later took the position of professor and chairman of the Department of Administration of Justice at the College of the Ozarks in Point Lookout, Missouri. As department head he wanted to continue his education and focused on learning forensic handwriting analysis, but he soon found training opportunities were limited to a select few. Ever a crusader for justice and seeing the need for a scientific organization that provided training in questioned documents (forgery detection) that was open to all levels of practitioners and professionals, Dr. O’Block decided to create one himself in a spare bedroom of his home. The organization was named the American Board of Forensic Handwriting Analysts (ABFHA). By the end of the first year, ABFHA had 200 members.
Dr. O’Block continued his work as a professor while working nights and weekends to build the association, developing certification programs, and publishing the first edition of a newsletter that would later become The Forensic Examiner®. As the organization grew so did the needs of its members. The association focus was expanded to include other areas of forensic study and it was renamed the American Board of Forensic Examiners (ABFE). In 1993, after fifteen years of being a college professor, Dr. O’Block retired from teaching to devote all of his time and energy to being executive director of ABFE, which is known today as the American College of Forensic Examiners International (ACFEI). The association Dr. O’Block had started in his spare bedroom now ranks as one of the largest and fastest growing forensic associations in the world.
Since the beginning of his career Robert O’Block has been a pioneer, laying the foundations for providing access to open, comprehensive, and educational associations to professionals in forensics and criminology. Dr. O’Block continually seeks out opportunities to expand his education and remain active in the law enforcement community. In 2008, he attended the FBI’s Citizens’ Academy at Quantico, Virginia. He was also invited to join InfraGard, a large national alliance between the FBI and members of the private sector. As recently as 2010, Dr. O’Block graduated from a 700 hour Basic Law Enforcement Training Course conducted by the Missouri Sheriff’s Association.