LEJA to get new crime lab

Steven Barnum, Assistant News Editor

The School of Law Enforcement and Justice Administration (LEJA) at Western Illinois University will soon have a new and cutting edge crime lab.

The crime lab is possible thanks to a generous donation from Jody and Toby McCamey. The duo is choosing to donate to LEJA because it’s what the late William McCamey would have wanted. McCamey was a long-time professor in the department, and because of his family’s contribution, the criminal justice and public safety program will remain one of the top of its kind.

Students leave the program with more knowledge and

critical thinking skills in fields like state and federal policing, fire services and corrections. This is especially true because every professor in the program has experience working in these fields.

“We decided to donate additional funds for the crime lab because of Bill’s love for WIU,” Jody said. “This new lab adds to Bill’s legacy and will provide an outstanding hands-on learning experience for LEJA students at Western.”

McCamey may have joined Western’s teaching staff in 1982, but he was not new to the Macomb community. Before earning his doctorate from the University of Iowa, he graduated with a bachelor’s and master’s degree from Western. Over 1,800 students were certified as juvenile specialists under McCamey’s guidance, which helped solidify his job as the department’s graduate school coordinator.

Additionally, McCamey taught classes in policing, criminal justice management and fire administration. His work caught the eye of the National Fire Academy, who allowed him to develop several courses for their program. The new crime lab expects to be finished by December of this year, and students will be able to break in the new lab next semester. Featuring cameras and moveable walls, the new crime lab will provide the chance to create realistic crime scenes for students to investigate. It will also offer advanced magnifying equipment, a forensic workstation and several recovery kits.

School Director Jill Myers is confident that the lab will be a valuable learning tool for students.

“The hands-on lab offers the link between academics and application of the theories to real world events,” Myers said. “Plus, it makes the learning exciting, entertaining and purposeful.” Jody and Toby first celebrated McCamey’s life through a scholarship in the LEJA department back in 2015. McCamey has had a busy career; he was a police officer, investigator, firefighter, paramedic and the editor of the Journal of Security Administration. On the side, he managed to publish criminal justice articles and he even helped write several law enforcement textbooks.

Even after everything he accomplished, nobody doubted that McCamey bled purple and gold. “Every time he taught juvenile justice classes, he would wear his WIU shirt,” Jody said. “When he got to Western, he found himself.” Brad Bainter is the Vice President for Advancement and Public Services and he recalls the impact McCamey had on the program. “Bill was certainly one of the professors that helped move the LEJA program forward to where it stands today as one of the largest and most successful programs in the country,” Bainter said. “We cannot thank Jody and Toby enough for their continued support of the LEJA program in Bill’s memory.”

On Monday, Nov. 5, a dedication ceremony will be held at 5 p.m. The ceremony will acknowledge the newfound opportunities students will have to develop skills they can use long after they say good-bye to Western.

“This is such a wonderful gift for our students,” Myers said. “I think this is the best tribute I can give Bill,” Jody said. “We know he is looking down smiling.”