November 2013

Crime Communications: What is a Timely Warning?

By: UWPD Chief Susan Riseling and Dean of Students Lori Berquam

Since the beginning of the school year, you’ve no doubt noticed an increase in communications related to crime on and near-campus. This is all part of our wiscAlertcontinued effort to keep our campus community informed about recent incidents, and follow federal mandates dictated to universities nationwide, through the Clery Act. As we work to enhance outreach to our community, we thought we’d take moment to help you better understand the types of crime-related messages that we’re distributing, and what they mean to you.

WiscAlert: WiscAlerts are emergency notification messages sent to the entire university, for an imminent threat and ongoing emergency situation. Students, faculty, and staff will automatically receive these via email, but you MUST register in order to receive WiscAlert via text message to your phone. If you haven’t done so already, please sign-up for text alerts here.

Timely Warning: You’ll receive Timely Warnings via email – and the information provided is required by federal law. We try to provide as much information as possible about the incident and the suspect, without jeopardizing the police investigation or a victim’s privacy. In most cases, Timely Warnings are issued regarding cases that are being investigated by the UW-Madison Police Department – but sometimes they involve City of Madison cases, which have occurred on public property within the core of UW community.

Crime Alert: When a crime occurs that doesn’t meet the Timely Warning threshold, and there’s valuable information or an important safety message, the UW-Madison Police Department will issue a “Crime Alert.” These are not federally mandated – rather, these are simply alerts to keep our community informed about important safety information related to certain crimes that have occurred on or near our campus. Crime Alerts are distributed through Facebook and Twitter, and can also be viewed on UWPD’s website. At times, depending on the severity and circumstances of the crime, you may receive a Crime Alert via email as well.

UWPD Chief Susan Riseling joins Madison Police at a news conference on Oct. 24, announcing a major arrest in downtown robbery cases.

UWPD Chief Susan Riseling joins Madison Police at a news conference on Oct. 24, announcing a major arrest in downtown robbery cases.

We realize there have been a lot of crime-related messages sent lately, and we sympathize with some of the uneasy feelings that many of you have expressed. Please know that UWPD is working hard on these cases, and our continued strong partnership with Madison Police has already paid off. Last month, Madison Police made two significant arrests — men believed to be involved with many robberies and home invasions in downtown. UWPD detectives are working closely with MPD Detectives on this case.

While these arrests are significant, personal safety remains a serious issue. We encourage you to continue walking in groups at night, to be aware of your surroundings, and to refrain from using ear buds and displaying your phone at night. We also ask that you trust your instincts and report suspicious behavior immediately. For more important  information about safety and campus resources like SAFEwalk, click here.

We can’t do this alone – thank you for your continued support and partnership in keeping UW-Madison safe.

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Campus Safety: How Can You Stay Safe?

By: UWPD Officer Rick Spoentgen

UWRightNow_Police13_2425With the increase in downtown crime, the UW-Madison Police Department continues to urge the campus community to take their personal safety seriously.  If you haven’t followed any of the recent reports, the Cliff’s Notes version is this: the incidents are generally happening at night, involving people who are typically walking alone or sitting in their residences with lights on, windows open, and doors unlocked — and they’re being robbed of their small or portable electronics.  Typically a weapon is displayed.

Over the past several years, these spikes seem to happen either early in fall semester or later in spring semester. The UW-Madison Police Department and City of Madison Police Department are working hard to catch the individuals responsible, and a number of major arrests have already been made.

A downfall of living in a free society is that crime can always occur – no matter where you live in our country. The best advice I can give to you is to protect yourself, your friends, and your homes from victimization. Some simple practices can bring this to fruition. These include:

Don’t endlessly stare at your phone!

  • PhoneThink about it: a person walking by themselves with ear-buds in, on an un-lit street, staring down into the glaring screen of a phone. To any would-be criminal, this screams, “I am oblivious to what is going on around me!” It also identifies you as a target, with the thief’s $500 pay-day in your hand.
  • Especially at night — if you need to text, do it, then put your phone in your purse or pocket. Pay attention to what is happening around you. If you can see people around you, you can prepare for whatever action they may take.

Don’t over-consume alcohol. Watch out for each other!

  • beerIt’s a fact – some students (both over and under 21) will drink this year. Whether you are one of those students or not, remember this: if you are drunk and alone, you are an easy target.
  • If you choose to consume alcohol, please do so responsibly — use good judgment and common sense. Remember, if you have been drinking and are in need of emergency assistance, CALL US! Neither the UWPD nor the university will punish you for under-age drinking if you’re under 21, intoxicated, and call for emergency assistance in an emergency situation.
  • Watch out for your friends! If they’ve had too much, cut them off and take them home. If they need medical assistance, call 911! Even though they may get in trouble (if under 21 and intoxicated), isn’t a citation better than dying from alcohol poisoning?

Travel in groups when walking at night!

  • The adage, “strength in numbers” generally rings true. People in groups are victimized far less often than those who walk alone.

Don’t let random people into your building!

  • Thieves rely on unsuspecting people to let them slide. Truth be told, this happens all too often – I’ve seen people hold doors for people they don’t know in most of the “secure buildings” on campus. Once inside the building, they can get almost anywhere and into any open residence hall room.

Pay attention to what’s going on around you!

  • If you see someone who doesn’t belong, call them out. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this, either call a House fellow or UWPD. You’re the one who knows who belongs and who doesn’t. It’s up to YOU to say something!

Unfortunately, despite our best laid plans, it is possible that you may find yourself getting robbed, or find your property stolen. If this does happen to you, don’t resist. No matter how valuable a phone or laptop is, your life is more valuable. Even if you can’t stop a crime from happening, you can still be a good witness. There are preventative steps you can take to help us catch the thieves and get your property back, such as:

Know and secure your property!

  • I can only enter your property as stolen in the National Crime Database if you know the item’s serial number.
  • Send yourself an e-mail with the serial numbers of all of your property (computer, phone, iPod, bike, etc.) and save it in your e-mail account. That way it’s always accessible and unable to be lost.
  • lockedIf you’re going to leave something unattended, LOCK IT UP! Thieves are opportunistic (they hunt for easy targets). This generally translates into taking the unsecured property over that which is locked up. Locking up your property or closing your door when leaving can lead to your property being passed over by the would-be thief.

There’s an app for that!

  • One of the best ways to recover a lost or stolen phone is with a tracking app. Even if it’s not stolen, it can still be useful.
  • There are also apps for wiping your phone’s stored data. Your e-mail access and credit card numbers may be saved on your phone. Don’t let a thief steal that too!
  • Back-up your data! Either sign up for an online service or buy an external hard drive. Your computer can run a backup in the background during any normal lecture and save you from losing months-worth of work it is later stolen.

While all of these things may sound like common sense, you’d be surprised at how many people do all of the ones I said not to do, and forego all of those I recommend on a daily basis. While I and the rest of the UWPD are here to protect you and the rest of the campus community, we can’t be everywhere 24/7. The first, best defender of you and your property is YOU!

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Mopeds on Campus

By: UWPD Community Officer Kristin Radtke

We’re now a few months into the academic year, and what have we noticed?  Mopeds are back in action on campus – in fact, UW-Madison has one of the largest numbers of mopeds in the country.  With that, we’ve noticed some violations!

With more and more people getting around on mopeds, there are a few things you need to remember as you traverse through campus on your motorized two-wheels:

  • UW-Madison-Moped-ParkingYou are a motor vehicle — obey all traffic laws.
  • Only the moped operator is allowed on the moped – NO passengers are allowed.
  • Do not operate your moped on a sidewalk.  Walk your moped to the parking stall.
  • Purchase a moped parking permit and park only where designated.
  • Please always wear eyewear and a helmet.  Operating with your headlight on at all times is also recommended.

With winter coming (or already here, depending on who you ask!), PLEASE use good common sense with winter weather and operating your moped.  Experienced motorcycle operators don’t ride in winter months.  There are days when mopeds should also not be operated.

Most moped citations start at $186, and go up from there.  Obey the law while operating your moped to make campus safer for you, pedestrians, bikers, and vehicles while traversing on campus.  Be safe!

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Welcoming Our New Threat Intervention Services Director

By: UWPD Lt. Mark Silbernagel

Chris Cole photoThe UW-Madison Police Department is pleased to announce that Christopher Cole has been hired as the new Director of Threat Intervention Services. The position is brand new to the UW-Madison campus – UWPD along with other UW campus leaders recognized the need to have a dedicated full-time position to focus on and achieve a cohesive threat assessment and response process to incidents. Cole will help guide and lead a pre-existing group of dedicated professionals from many different divisions and departments on campus – all who play critical roles in assessing and responding to situations where a student, faculty, staff, or visitor poses a threat to other individuals.

Cole rose to the top of a very competitive selection process. He possesses a very impressive background in comprehensive threat analysis and assessment capabilities. Cole comes to UW-Madison after more than 30 years with the FBI and United States Marine Corps. He looks forward to refining and increasing the communication, continuity, and cohesiveness of the threat intervention process and team.

Cole is married and has four children – all who have gone through college. As a father, he understands and is sensitive to the unique needs and concerns of students, parents, and campus community stake-holders.  He looks forward to being proactive in providing a safe environment for all people of the University of Wisconsin.

Cole started his position as Director of Threat Intervention Services on November 4.

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Winter is Coming: Are You Ready?

By: UWPD Emergency Services Coordinator David Kromm

Winter weather will soon be upon us – bringing with it the snow, ice, and bitter cold temperatures that come with the territory here in Wisconsin.  With a little bit of planning and a few preparations on your part, the winter elements are absolutely manageable and survivable.  If you ignore those preparations or venture out without them, the results could be disastrous.

Snow-covered bicycles in the Tripp-Adams Lakeshore Residence Hall quad during winter. © UW-Madison News & Public Affairs  |  Photo by: Jeff Miller

Snow-covered bicycles in the Tripp-Adams Lakeshore Residence Hall quad during winter.
© UW-Madison News & Public Affairs
Photo by: Jeff Miller

Winter storms can be just as dangerous as summer tornadoes and severe thunderstorms.  They can range from a moderate snow over a few hours to a blizzard with blinding, wind-driven snow that lasts for several days.  One major concern is the winter weather’s ability to knock out heat, power, and communications services to our homes and offices – sometimes for days or even weeks at a time.  Heavy snowfalls and extreme cold can immobilize an entire region, hindering rescue and recovery efforts.  Large snowfalls, freezing rain, sleet, and ice can make driving extremely treacherous during the winter months.  Sadly, many winter deaths result from traffic crashes on poor road conditions.

So what can you do to be ready?  Winterize yourself, your home or apartment, and your car.  If you absolutely must be out in cold, winter weather, dress for success:

  • Wear layers of warm, loose-fitting clothes.
  • Cover exposed skin to prevent frostbite.
  • Wear proper footwear – good boots or overshoes, not your tennis shoes.
  • When walking or driving, use the “buddy system” and let a friend or relative know where you’re going, when you’re leaving, and your route of travel.

At home, winterize your residence:

  • Have the heating system checked and tuned.
  • Have some ice melt, sand, and a shovel or two ready to go.
  • Know how to turn off water valves in case pipes do freeze.
  • Keep some dry wood on hand if you have a fireplace or wood burning stove as backup sources of heat.
  • If you have pets or animals, look out for them and their shelters too.
  • Maintain an emergency kit with the basics you’d need to survive a long power outage and a loss of heat to your house/apartment.

Finally, winterize your vehicle:

  • Winterize-Car-VehicleHave the battery and coolant system checked.
  • Ensure the tires are designed and ready for winter driving.
  • Maintain an emergency kit in the car, including extra blankets, a sleeping bag, warm clothes, flashlight and extra batteries, snack food and water, and a first aid kit, among the basics.
  • Pay attention to media sources for winter weather updates.  Today’s forecasts have become pretty accurate, and watches and warnings come with plenty of advance notice.
  • When officials are advising people to stay off the roads, there is a valid reason for that – please heed the warning and don’t drive.

You can’t stop winter from coming, but you can be ready for it.  Stay warm, be prepared, make good decisions, and stay safe!

Additional information on winter weather hazards and protective measures can be found online at the National Weather Service’s website, and on FEMA’s website.

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Free Smoke Alarms Available

By: UWPD Public Information Officer Marc Lovicott

smoke alarmDid you know 65% of home fire deaths occur in homes with no smoke alarms, or in a home with alarms that don’t work?  Smoke and fire can spread fast – functioning smoke alarms give you time to escape.  It’s why the City of Madison Fire Department is proud to offer Madison residents FREE smoke alarms for their home.  The Department received a federal grant, allowing them to provide 1,000 smoke alarms to Madison residents, at no cost.

To qualify for the free smoke alarms, you must meet at least one of the following requirements:

  • Be age 65 or older
  • Have children in your home age five or younger
  • Someone in your home has a disability

For more information on receiving your free smoke alarm, call (608) 266-4709 or click here.

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