University News

LEJA, OPS Provide Resources and More to WIU and Beyond

May 11, 2022

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MACOMB/MOLINE, IL – As National Police Week is underway, the School of Law Enforcement and Justice Administration (LEJA) and the WIU's Office of Public Safety provide numerous resources and services to the WIU community, beyond the traditional role of law enforcement.

WIU's LEJA program, which is one of the top public safety programs in the nation, recently secured a $2 million federal grant to renovate the former physical sciences library in Currens Hall for a permanent emergency operations facility for the region. According to School of LEJA Director Jill Joline Myers, the Western EOC will be specifically designed to support ongoing all-hazards prevention, protection, mitigation and recovery efforts for the surrounding region, as well as an alternative EOC in downstate Illinois.

"Establishing a permanent, fully functioning EOC is essential for a comprehensive emergency management system to ensure continuity of operations, not only in the immediate area of McDonough County, but throughout the critically underserved southern, central and western Illinois regions," Myers added. "This facility will also provide cutting-edge learning and training opportunities for our LEJA students, as well as current public safety professionals and other emergency responders."

Along with the emergency management curriculum, the school also offers major options in LEJA and fire protection, along with numerous minors and post-baccalaureate certificate programs. The newest certificate program, Community Engagement and Public Safety Leadership, is designed to further develop and improve the leadership and community engagement skills for students seeking public safety positions, along with those currently working in the field.

The school also provides learning/leadership experience for WIU students through Concert Safety Corps, which provides security and safety operations at WIU events, and Go West Transit Security Corps, along with fully certified paramedic and EMT courses for students and current professionals.

On the WIU police side of the house, for more than 65 years, the men and women of the 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 on Western's Macomb campus, as well as provide numerous resources and programming for the WIU community.

The department, which is led by Director Derek Watts, employs up to 24 full-time sworn police officers.

"We're more than just police officers. We're here for our students, faculty and staff, from providing safe walking escorts 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."

Western's Emergency Medical Services (WEMS), WIU's student-run emergency medical service through OPS, provides first-responder services seven days a week to individuals on campus in need of emergency assistance or care.

In addition, the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board (ILETSB) Executive Institute, housed at WIU, provides innovative education, training, research and services for law enforcement professionals across the state.

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