Safety First

WIU’s Office of Public Safety (OPS) offers many resources to help keep students safe on campus. You might be wondering what some of those are…well, I interviewed Police Lieutenant Thomas Clark to learn more about what OPS does to help keep students safe.

There are 25 OPS officers. OPS patrols the campus 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by car, bicycle and on foot. They have two officers stationed in the residence halls to monitor for students’ safety there. They also provide educational programming for the university community such as alcohol awareness, theft awareness, and personal safety presentations. You can watch videos that provide safety tips and educate you on the resources that OPS provides at

Have you ever noticed the blue light call boxes on campus? “There are 48 emergency call boxes located on campus. Most of them are in the parking lots or in the main travel walkways through campus. They act as instant communication with the police dispatcher here on campus. Also once activated, they immediately give their location, so officers can instantly know what box went off and where it is to start responding that way,” said Lieutenant Clark. I’m glad WIU has this resource; it makes me feel much safer. Lieutenant Clark explained that there is no reason anyone should ever have to walk alone in the dark night hours because OPS provides escorts through student patrol; a student will come to the location where you’re at and walk with you to wherever you’re going on campus.

Lieutenant Clark also explained the emergency alert system. “The emergency alert system is going to be the way Western Illinois University contacts people in the event of a serious emergency. It is through texting, social media, email, and phone calls. In the event of a serious emergency, that message will go out to the campus community,” said Lieutenant Clark. He then told me how important it is for people to keep their information up-to-date because if a phone number or email has change, that change needs to be updated so that people continue to receive those alerts.

OPS also provides Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) classes, which are basic self defense classes for female students. These classes provide education both in a classroom setting and also in a gym where women learn defense moves hands on. You can sign up for a class by calling OPS at (309) 298-1949.

WIU cares about its students’ safety. “We’re constantly training, preparing and staying up to date on the most recent events going on to stay prepared for anything that might come our way. We’re dedicated to the protection of our students, staff, faculty, and visitors to campus,” said Lieutenant Clark.


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