I Have a Complaint
Complaints are taken very seriously by the UW-Madison Police Department and are viewed as opportunities to learn, correct problems, and improve our service to the community.
During the Contact
If you believe a UW-Madison Police or Security officer has acted improperly during your contact, you may respectfully request to speak with an on-duty supervisor, if available, or you may request the officer’s name and badge number. Please do not get involved in a confrontation with the officer, as you will address your complaint with a UWPD supervisor.
After the Contact
If you are the aggrieved person or a witness to an incident where you believe a UW-Madison Police Department staff person acted inappropriately, you are encouraged to speak with a UWPD supervisor. Please call 608-264-COPS (2677) and request to speak with a supervisor. Complaints can often be resolved at this level by providing a better understanding of the issue in a timely manner. In some instances you may not be satisfied with a resolution at this stage. You may file a written complaint.
Does Making a Complaint Address my Citation or Arrest?
No, this is NOT a forum to challenge a citation or arrest. That must be done in a court-of-law utilizing the court date you were given at the time of the arrest or citation.
How do I Make a Written Complaint?
Written complaints are accepted from the aggrieved person or a witness to the incident. You may download a complaint form here, or call the UW-Madison Police Department at 608-264-COPS and request to speak with a supervisor to have a form mailed to you. In addition, you may come to the UW-Madison Police Department in person and request a form, request to speak to a supervisor, or both. Written complaints require a full explanation of your encounter with the UWPD staff member including date, time, and location. There should be a specific description of the alleged misconduct included. The identities and contact information for any witnesses with direct knowledge of the alleged misconduct should also be provided. Completed written complaints that do not require notarization and signature may be emailed to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or mailed to:
UW-Madison Police Department
Attn: Personnel Sergeant
1429 Monroe Street
Madison, WI 53711
For written complaints involving use of excessive force, serious misconduct, violations of laws, ordinance, court orders or civil rights, you must sign the complaint before an official authorized to administer oaths such as a notary public. The Attestation and Notary form is included as part of the complaint forms. For complaints such as discourtesy, verbal abuse or sarcasm or other similar misconduct, the Attestation and Notary form is NOT required.
Is There A Penalty for Filing a False Complaint?
Yes, Wisconsin State Statute 946.66 states that filing a false report of police misconduct with a law enforcement agency is a criminal offense. This state statute is not meant to inhibit the reporting of legitimate complaints — it’s for the discouragement of intentionally bringing false complaints against law enforcement personnel.
How are Written Complaints Resolved?
The personnel lieutenant will review written complaints received and forward the complaint to the appropriate captain. The captain will review the complaint and assign the complaint for follow-up, as appropriate. The supervisor following-up on the complaint will investigate the facts of the complaint and will likely interview you and any identified witnesses as well as the officer involved. The supervisor will also review other information available regarding the incident — such as audio or video recordings and police reports. Upon completion of the investigation, the report is forwarded to the appropriate captain review with an assistant chief. For serious violations, the Chief of Police will also review the report. When appropriate, the internal disciplinary process will be used to preserve the employee’s due process rights. A captain or higher level will communicate the findings of the complaint to you in writing.
The UW-Madison Police Department tries to make sure we respond in a timely manner to complaints. If a significant amount of time has passed and you have not heard about the status of your complaint, please contact the Personnel Lieutenant by calling (608) 262-4889.
Click here for a summary of 2015 complaints >>