University News

Office of Public Safety: To Protect and To Serve #CampusSafetyAwarenessMonth

September 13, 2021

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MACOMB, IL -- For 65 years, the men and women of Western Illinois University's Office of Public Safety (OPS) have made it their mission, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, to maintain safety and security on Western's Macomb campus.

OPS started as Campus Safety and Security in 1956, replacing the night watchman-era that was part of campus for many years. The department, which is led by Director Derek Watts, employs up to 24 full-time sworn police officers. Since the department's inception, more than 110 police officers have worked for OPS, including the first female law enforcement officer in the region.

"We're more than just police officers at WIU. We're here for our students, faculty and staff, from escorting them in the evening hours to helping them when they have a flat tire to providing educational programming and other resources. Our job goes beyond the law and order aspect of our profession," said OPS Director Derek Watts. "Many of us are WIU graduates, and we care about our University community as a whole. We're here to make sure that your home away from home, and where you live, work and learn, is safe and secure for everyone."

In addition to routine patrols, OPS officers hit the street on foot and bicycles, as well as make an appearance in the residence halls so that students get to know the officers. Western's police officers perform a variety of duties including sponsoring educational programming for University organizations and groups, safe escorts on campus during the evening hours, security at athletic events, traffic control, non-emergency hospital transport, conducting building safety checks and supervising student patrol and emergency medical services on campus.

Like officers from city and county agencies, OPS officers are confirmed by the Illinois Training and Standards Board after completing a state-certified academy.. Western's officers are classified as civil servants and must first pass a state exam before joining the force. In addition, WIU is an accredited agency, achieving Tier I Accreditation from Illinois Law Enforcement Accreditation Program (ILEAP) in 2019. OPS is one of six accredited collegiate police departments across the state.

The Office of Public Safety can be reached at (309) 298-1949 for non-emergencies, and 9-1-1 for emergencies. Individuals can also email OPS For more information, visit and follow OPS on Facebook at

Posted By: University Communications (
Office of University Relations