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Saturday, September 20, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 77.0° F  Mostly Cloudy
The Daily
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Busy campus, late-night crime keep UW, Madison police busy this summer

Last Friday evening, visitors to the Memorial Union Terrace reported a disconcerting sight to police. A man sat at a picnic table with an uncased compound bow by his side. He had an arrow with him as well.

Officers apprehended the man and took him to a hospital, where he's undergoing psychiatric assessment and treatment.

Due to the presence of a mental health disorder, Sgt. Aaron Chapin of the UW-Madison Police Department suggested against using his name in this story.

"We appreciate the fact that community members called and were concerned," says Chapin. "A lot of community members really have the Aurora, Colorado incident at the forefront of their minds, because that's what is so recent."

In addition to increased anxiety about high-profile violent crime, such as the attack on Badgers running back Montee Ball early Wednesday morning, UW-Madison police are dealing with the usual challenges that come with summer: an increased volume of non-students on campus and ongoing theft.

Campus police have to "deal with lots of theft and property crimes," explains Chapin. "People go into offices and steal laptops or steal books."

A majority of students leave campus at the end of the spring semester, vacating most of the residence halls and decreasing traffic in and around academic buildings, many of which remain open.

In place of college students, the campus sees an influx of visitors from around the community.

High school students come for sports, music, and academic camps. Groups visit the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery and attend research conferences. People boating on Lake Mendota will moor and walk through campus to see what's going on. And of course, the Union Terrace is one of the world's great hangouts, drawing thousands for live music, ice cream and beer.

"We have a lot of stuff that really draws community members into the campus, different programs that are run around the campus. People come to the Union to enjoy nice weather," says Chapin.

Summer crowds also keep the Madison Police Department busy.

"What you have in the summer, at least in the downtown area, is you have a lot more people," says Madison Police public information officer Joel DeSpain, emphasizing an increase in pedestrians.

Last summer, the MPD addressed a series of muggings on bike paths and elsewhere. After making some arrests, says DeSpain, that problem diminished and hasn't returned again this year.

But over the last few months, the 600 block of University Avenue has emerged as a primary concern.

"In the past, that area was predominantly dominated in the evenings and late at night by students," says DeSpain. "Now you have groups of people who are not students, some of whom have gang affiliations. [Some are there] not to be friendly and have a good time, but to make trouble."

The department has stepped up patrols, with an emphasis on the hours between 10 p.m. and 3 a.m., Thursdays through Saturdays. They plan to continue high levels of enforcements until the problem diminishes.

The attack on Montee Ball reportedly involved five men who knocked down the football player and kicked his torso and head, causing a concussion. Ball's friends and other witnesses rushed to his assistance, but the attackers remain at-large.

While the UW police and the Madison city police have worked together on past initiatives they will keep their focus on their respective jurisdictions.

"We're not lacking for work during the summer," says Chapin. "But it's just ... a different climate.

[Editor's note: This story has been corrected to note that the individual at the Union Terrace with a compound bow had one arrow with him.]

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