Students get hands-on

Devon Greene, editor-in-chief


The School of Law Enforcement and Justice Administration held an open house on Monday for prospective students looking to pursue their careers.

The open house consisted of 13 separate sessions where students could learn from professors from Western Illinois University and various professionals from different fields in 30 minute time intervals. Instructors at Western Illinois University are required to have at least five years of experience before teaching a class on a subject.

There were several sessions focused on lifting fingerprints and other types of prints without damaging evidence. Professor Todd Lough, who served with the Chicago Police Department, led students in demonstrations on fingerprinting where they were able to get some hands-on experience with the magnetic dust used by law enforcement. In a separate room, professor Glen Daugherty showed students how to use a magnetic dust lifter to get a usable fingerprint sample when they could be damaged by dust and other environmental factors.

Another session that was offered was “K-9 and Investigative Seizures, Car Stops.” This was lead by professor Glen Schwartz who was an Illinois State Police Commander. Schwartz spoke about actions and demeanors that would lead him to call a K-9 unit in order to investigate for narcotics and other drugs. During this session, K-9 Mac, was brought in to demonstrate his abilities. His owner, Nick Severs, works with the Macomb Police Department and explained that Mac is just about 2-years-old and is still working to perfect his craft. Severs also said that Mac is trained to detect most narcotics except for marijuana due to the status of the drug in Illinois.

Detecting deception and polygraphs also had several detections devoted to them. Professor Jack Schafer, who served with the FBI as a behavioral analyst, explained what he looks for when interrogating a suspect. Schafer worked his way down from the forehead and explained what giveaways he was looking for. Sweat, crossed arms, rapid blinking and frequent shoulder movement are just some of the things Schafer went over with students.

In another room, Professor David Young, who served with the FBI, spoke about the legal uses and effectiveness of the polygraph. Young said that the polygraph is about 85 to 90 percent accurate and stressed the importance of its use as an investigative tool. However, when asked about if he ever sees the polygraph being counted as a legitimate piece of evidence in a courtroom, he was not optimistic. In a lighter turn of events, Young called up a volunteer from each group that passed through the room to see if they could beat the lie detector. Young took the students outside, had them take or not take a card from a stack of four and made them answer each question with the answer “no” to demonstrate the effectiveness of the machine.

Other sessions that were available were “Blood Spatter,” “Drones and GIS,” “Cyber Crimes Investigations, Electronic Evidence, Location Tracking, Recovery, 5G internet of things,” “Fire – smoke survival – self contained breathing apparatus,” “Accident Reconstruction, Computer Animated Investigations,” Testifying, witness examination,” “Wheel of Juvenile Justice, Community Corrections” and “Emergency Management, IEMA Van.”