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Badger Watch program receives national recognition

June 15, 2010

The UW Police Department‘s Badger Watch program is being honored as the nation’s 2010 Neighborhood Watch Program by the National Sheriffs’ Association.

The association’s Neighborhood Watch Awards of Excellence recognize law enforcement agencies, Neighborhood Watch programs and organizations that are doing extraordinary things to promote such programs in their communities.

Badger Watch coordinators Kristin Radtke, Heidi Laundrie and Erik Pearce will accept the award on June 29 at the organization’s annual conference in Anaheim, Calif.

Badger Watch, which involved only four campus buildings when it began in 2002, today is the university’s premier crime-prevention program. Modeled after the Neighborhood Watch programs developed in the late 1960s, Badger Watch now encompasses more than 70 campus buildings and has more than 1,400 citizen volunteers.

The program relies on those trained volunteers to recognize and report crimes, identify suspicious activities and behaviors, and work with the UW Police to reduce crimes such as theft and violence.

In a message to the volunteers informing them about the award, the program’s coordinators wrote, “This is a huge honor, and we are very proud of this accomplishment. The award would not have been possible without all of you, our volunteers. We want to thank you for what each of you has done in becoming a Badger Watch volunteer and continuing your commitment to keeping campus safe for students, staff and visitors to live, play and learn on this wonderful campus.”

In its nomination for the award, the department noted that it is celebrating a 36-year low in the campus crime rate.

“There has been an increase in crime reporting by the [campus] community,” wrote the coordinators. “The extra eyes and ears of the Badger Watch volunteers have been invaluable. Badger Watch volunteers have assisted with solving and preventing crimes on campus.”

Badger Watch offers one-hour, basic safety-awareness presentations for its volunteers, as well as advanced safety-training courses. The program also reaches out to the campus community on Facebook, where volunteers can network and share information on crime prevention. Each year, the police department also sponsors a free all-day Badger Watch safety conference that is open to the campus community.