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Concerns about UW Alert System after off-campus attack

MADISON (WKOW) — University of Wisconsin-Madison students are flooding social media with concerns about the school’s public safety alert system after an attack near campus.

Early Sunday morning, someone beat a UW-Madison student so severely, she spent two days in the hospital.

Madison police released a photo of the suspect spotted on a surveillance camera. They say he grabbed the student on Langdon Street and beat her. Police believe the victim didn’t know the suspect.

Students now want to know why UW-Madison Police didn’t send out a WiscAlert when it happened.

“In my mind that’s unacceptable,” said sophomore Will DeAngelis. “Langdon is right in the middle of our campus, thousands of students live there.”

DeAngelis is one of several students and parents tweeting at UW-Madison police since they learned about the attack.

“I definitely caused some waves in the community and I hope they’re paying attention and listening,” said DeAngelis. He’s concerned about receiving an email hours after the attack.

A UW Police spokesperson says it wouldn’t have been appropriate for the department to do more because the crime didn’t happen within its jurisdiction.

“We have a great partnership with the City of Madison, but often times we don’t learn about cases until hours later,” said Marc Lovicott, UW-Madison Police Department spokesperson.

Some students say they find the situation confusing, because they received an alert about a different off-campus incident last week. There was an armed robbery at a Pizza Hut on S. Park St, but the suspect was headed towards campus.

“The suspect ran off onto our property, so that’s when our department got involved,” said Lovicott. “We were directly out there with the City of Madison Police Department working on this case and had up to the second information where we could send out those emergency alerts.”

UW Police wasn’t involved in the early Sunday morning attack, so Lovicott says it didn’t qualify for an alert.

“We typically send our emergency text alerts out when we have an active, life safety event happening right at that moment, within campus property,” said Lovicott.

UW Police wasn’t obligated to send any alert under the crime warning policy because the incident happened off campus. They decided to send the email because they felt it was important information for students.

The email also included the following tips to help keep students safe.

  • Crime victims are never responsible for the behavior of perpetrators.
  • Be active in supporting a safe and respectful community. If you see others engaging in illegal, disrespectful or inappropriate actions, speak up and get involved, or contact someone else to assist.
  • If you’re a bystander and see someone behaving in a way that seems dangerous, step in and do something about it. If you don’t feel comfortable or safe confronting them, call 911.

But DeAngelis says he thinks UW Police should expand their parameters for the alerts.

“Madison is a city environment,” he said. “What’s really on-campus or off-campus is very arbitrary. I think they need to look at it in terms of where are students living?”

Madison Police are doing extra patrolling of the Langdon Street area.

Madison Police are still investigating and are asking anyone with information to contact crime stoppers at 608-266-6014.

Amanda Hari

Reporter, WKOW

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