What does UWPD mean by “WiscAlert,” “Timely Warning” and “Crime Alert?”

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 continued 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 on-going 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.

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 the UW-Madison Police Department is working hard on these cases, and our continued strong partnership with the City of Madison Police Department has already paid off. Over the past week, Madison Police made two significant arrests of men believed to be involved with many robberies and home invasions in downtown Madison.  UWPD detectives are working closely with Madison Police 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 on the following link:

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

Chief Susan Riseling, UW-Madison Police
Dean Lori Berquam, Dean of Student Life