What is a Crime Warning?

Crime Warnings are campus-wide communications that are sent out to provide notice of a crime that has recently occurred and that represents an ongoing threat to the community so faculty, staff, and students can take steps to protect themselves.

These notices are known as “Timely Warnings” under the Clery Act, which requires federally funded colleges and universities to share information about campus crime and safety. The act requires warnings for certain incidents (called “Clery crimes“) that happen on or close to campus (referred to as “Clery geography“).


Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some frequently asked questions about UW-Madison Crime Warnings. For more information, you can read UW-Madison’s full Crime Warning policy here.

When are Crime Warnings issued?

Crime Warnings are issued when a UW-Madison Campus Security Authority (CSA) receives notice of a “Clery crime” that occurred on “Clery geography” that, in the professional opinion of law enforcement, represents an ongoing threat to the campus community. A Campus Security Authority (CSA) is a person responsible for campus security or student and campus activities.


What’s the difference between a Crime Warning and a WiscAlert?

Crime warnings are issued after certain Clery crimes have occurred, within the Clery geography, to alert our campus community of an ongoing threat. A WiscAlert is issued when a crime or other emergency is ongoing and poses a threat to campus (such as: an active shooter, a chemical leak), to alert our campus community of an immediate threat, and provide potential life-saving safety steps.


Why don’t crime warnings have victim names or other identifying information?

The Clery Act prohibits institutions from including a victim’s personally identifiable information in a Crime Warning. This includes a victim’s name, date of birth and other information that would lead to the identification of a victim.  This is true for all Crime Warnings, not just those communicating about sexual assaults.


Why don’t I receive a follow-up email with more information?

First, Crime Warnings are sent only when there is a continuing threat to the community, so that people can take steps to protect themselves. We don’t want to send so many communications that people get annoyed and stop reading the emails.

Second, there may not be any follow-up information to provide. Often times, there is no law enforcement investigation or UW-Madison may not be informed of the identity of the offender(s), so there would be no follow-up about an arrest or prosecution. In the event there is a law enforcement investigation, follow-up information is typically provided via news release, Facebook, Twitter, and on UWPD’s website.

Individual student disciplinary proceedings are protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), so UW-Madison cannot provide details about students who engage in the disciplinary process.


What type of support do you offer people who report crimes to UW-Madison

Sometimes the person who reports the crime is not the victim and provides no information as to the victim’s identity. If UW-Madison knows who the victim is, we offer individual support and resources. For victims and those who report sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence or stalking, the following information is provided.


If UWPD isn’t investigating, why does UWPD send the Crime Warnings?

The UW-Madison Police Department (UWPD) is the office on campus that is charged with coordinating Clery Act compliance and has the capability to immediately send communications campus-wide. Crime Warnings are a requirement of the Clery Act. In an effort to respect a victim’s right to not report to law enforcement, a police investigation is typically not initiated without the consent of the victim.


Why do I get Crime Warnings for some crimes but not others?

The majority of crimes that occur on and around campus will NOT result in a Crime Warning or WiscAlert. Crime Warnings are only sent for Clery crimes that occur on Clery geography and present an ongoing threat to the campus community. Property crimes won’t typically lead to a Crime Warning unless there is a distinct pattern of related incidents.  Crimes that occur outside of Clery geography, such as crimes occurring on State Street or in privately owned apartments buildings, will typically not lead to a Crime Warning.  Emergency incidents that occur in the City of Madison may result in a WiscAlert if there is a specifically identifiable threat to campus, such as an active shooter headed toward campus.


How else does campus communicate about crimes?

There are many easy ways to stay informed about safety on and around campus. It is important for the campus community to use these resources and take responsibility to stay informed. UW-Madison is committed to keeping our community informed, and it communicates in many ways other than Crime Warnings.

WiscAlerts are sent when there is an ongoing emergency that is currently presenting a threat to the campus community. WiscAlerts can be sent for emergencies other than crimes, for example, gas leaks or fires.

UWPD maintains a Daily Crime and Fire Log which is typically updated every business day. It includes all crimes reported to UWPD that occur in UWPD’s patrol jurisdiction and also include on-campus residential housing fires.

UWPD often issues press releases about crimes that have occurred on campus that don’t qualify for a Crime Warnings. UWPD also provides crime information on its website, Facebook page, and Twitter feed. Following UWPD is a great way to stay informed.

UW-Madison may also communicate about crimes through news releases, Facebook, and Twitter.


How else can I keep informed about crimes that occur in the Madison area?

The City of Madison Police Department is not subject to the Clery Act and doesn’t issue Crime Warnings or WiscAlerts, but the City of Madison Police Department is active on Facebook and Twitter and routinely releases information about crimes in the City of Madison on its website. Following the City of Madison Police Department is a great way to stay informed about crimes and safety in the greater Madison community.

Local news media often provide information about crimes in the Madison area as well.


I don’t want these emails – can I unsubscribe?

The Clery Act requires that we issue the Crime Warning in a way that is reasonably likely to reach the entire campus community.  UW-Madison accomplishes this by sending the Crime Warnings to all “wisc.edu” email addresses.  If you have a “wisc.edu” address — or another UW-Madison affiliated email address — you cannot unsubscribe to the crime warnings.