LEJA celebrates 30 years

Scott Owens

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The law enforcement and justice administration department has already begun making preparations to celebrate its 30th anniversary at WIU in October 1999.Events are planned throughout the year to promote the program and receive advice from returning alumni.

Plastic cups noting the anniversary will be distributed at this year’s Homecoming football game, and similar promotional events are planned for Family Weekend.

Law Enforcement and Government Day is scheduled for Oct. 20. Representatives from over 100 agencies will be in attendance, according to Stephen Reinhart, department chair. Alumni will be consulted about the program here and the preparation they received in the curriculum.

A national law enforcement conference is scheduled to take place in October 1999, and the college will celebrate the anniversary of the program with a Grand Ball planned for the third Monday of that month.

More events will likely take place, according to Reinhart, but they have not yet been scheduled. The department plans to issue a monthly news release for upcoming events.

LEJA is the largest academic department at WIU and the largest undergraduate law enforcement program in Illinois. It began with only 25 students in 1969, and now more than 1,200 undergraduate students are involved in the department. The next largest academic department on campus is only half the size of LEJA, Reinhart said.

Reinhart points to the size of LEJA now as a testimonial to the quality of the department.

“The students come here because we have set the standard in the area for the system,” he said. “That’s why the department is so large and why they go here instead of the other schools with law-enforcement programs.”

Despite the large size, individualized help is made available to students. Students are encouraged to make appointments with their instructors if necessary. Two LEJA advisers are also available for consultation, and Ken Durken has the responsibility of coordinating internships.

Internships are mandatory in the program. This is one of the areas that sets WIU apart from other colleges, Reinhart said. He added that mandatory internships were rare in the past at other colleges but this is now beginning to change.

WIU requires 600 hours of work at an internship for 15 credit hours.

“Some schools don’t make it mandatory or they have a lower minimum of hours,” Reinhart said.

The practical experience of the instructors is also valued in the department. Several instructors were employed in law enforcement before they came to WIU. A sheriff, director of security, city attorney, public prosecutor and state’s attorney are all now part of the LEJA program, which currently staffs over 300 faculty members.

Reinhart said LEJA has the most honor students at WIU and the students are held to strict academic standards.

“Law enforcement was known as an easy class before, but we have changed that,” he said.

The department was originally known as law enforcement administration, but the name was changed to LEJA to better advertise to students, Reinhart said. No changes in curriculum were made when this occurred, but the department just wanted to advertise to more people interested in other areas of study.

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