After an influx of emails and WiscAlerts this semester, University of Wisconsin students received an email last week reiterating crime rates around campus remain normal, but police are increasing communication with the student body.
The increase in communication comes as a result of a federal law, the Clery Act, University of Wisconsin Police Department spokesperson Marc Lovicott said. The Clery Act requires universities to be upfront and proactive about reaching out to the campus community for crimes and criminal activities, he said.
While the Clery Act has been in place for a long time, UWPD has gotten a better understanding of the law during the past few years, Lovicott said.
“We wanted to do a better job at being more upfront about some of the communications and informing the campus community about certain crimes, and that is what prompted some of the increase in emails,” Lovicott said.
The goal with the clarification email was to let people know that the crime rate on campus has not increased and explain the different types of emails students have received over the past two months, Lovicott said.
WiscAlerts are emergency notification messages sent to the entire university for an imminent threat and on-going emergency situation, the email said.
Timely warnings are sent regarding cases that are being investigated by the police that have occurred on public property in the UW community, the email said. It also said the warnings provide as much information as possible about an incident and a suspect without jeopardizing investigations or privacy.
Crime alerts provide information or a safety message about crimes that do not meet the threshold for a Timely Warning, the email said.
Lovicott said while on-campus crime has not increased, the Madison Police Department has seen a 30 percent increase in off-campus crime since last year.
UWPD’s partnership with MPD has always been consistent, but the partnership has strengthened as a result of the many armed robberies involving students that have been happening off campus, Lovicott said.
The increase in communication from UWPD has prompted a strong push for safety campaigns around campus from all fronts, administration and students, Associated Students of Madison Secretary Carissa Szlosek said.
ASM has been drafting plans for a late-night shuttle service that has received support from administration, UWPD and MPD, Szlosek said. ASM members will be meeting with UW Transportation Services this week to find ways to move forward with the plan, she said.
Szlosek she’s also seen a push for a partnership between the Langdon Street community and MPD through the Langdon Street Watch Program. The program would entail students walking up and down Langdon Street from 11 p.m. to bar close checking for suspicious activity and ensuring people have someone to walk with, she said.
However, the program received some negative feedback and many fraternities saw the street watch program as something that would get other students in trouble and not something they wanted to spend their time doing, Szlosek said.
Szlosek added she is also working on outreach efforts for the Safe Arrival for Everyone walk service, particularly through social media.
“Students have to look out for each other, it’s the only way to ensure people are being safe,” Szlosek said. “We can put out services but people have to utilize them.”