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Which UW system school is No. 1 for alcohol arrests in the nation?

Published On: Mar 29 2014 01:30:07 PM CDT   Updated On: Mar 29 2014 07:46:39 PM CDT

University has most alcohol-related arrests on campus per capita in the nation.


The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse ranks No. 1 in the nation, but some aren't necessarily proud of the list the school's made this time. The university tops a list from for the most alcohol-related arrests on campus per capita based on a set of statistics from the U.S. Department of Education.

University police said the number of arrests doesn't only mean students. It includes any alcohol-related arrest made within the department's jurisdiction, which includes the streets around the campus as well. Officials from UW-La Crosse said ranking first proves this type of behavior won't be tolerated.

Being ranked No. 1 didn't come as much of a shock to UW-La Crosse faculty or students.

"It's not surprising, it's certainly not scary. We are aware of the issue and we're dealing with it," Scott Rhode, director of UW-L police services, said.

"I'm not that surprised. Unfortunately drinking is a, alcohol is a huge part of Wisconsin's culture," Landen Rimestad, junior at UW-La Crosse, said.

But the university wants people to know it's not just students being arrested.

"Numbers also include attendees at special events. For example, Freedom Fest, Oktoberfest activities that occur both on campus and adjacent to campus," Rhode said.

UW-La Crosse Chancellor Jow Gow said the ranking is a compliment to the university's police force.

"One of the messages here is that we have very talented police, they take the law seriously and when our students chose to violate the law they're going to get arrested," Gow said.

However, UW-La Crosse doesn't only want to be known for punishment. The department also makes a strong effort in prevention.

"We have a full-time alcohol and other drug awareness educator," Gow said. "We also put a lot of money into alternative programming on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights so that people don't need to drink, there are other things to do."

Gow wants students to ask themselves, "Is this something we want to be known for?' and hopes this ranking will send a strong message.

"Students should know if they're going to come to UW-L and think they're going to do a lot of partying, they're going to get in trouble," Gow said.

The numbers used in the study are from 2012. The UW-La Crosse police director said these aren't just drinking arrests. The numbers also include arrests made for possessing and attempting to buy alcohol for minors.

The state of Wisconsin has nine universities in the top 50, including UW-Oshkosh at No. 9, UW-Stout at No. 18, UW-Stevens Point at No. 22, UW-Madison at No. 23, UW-Eau Claire at No. 31, UW-River Falls at No. 33, UW-Milwaukee at No. 45 and UW-Green Bay at No. 46.

UW-La Crosse was ranked No. 10 last year.

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    MADISON, Wis.--A west Madison store is part of an effort to collect hundreds of stuffed animals to donate to six police departments in Southern Wisconsin.

    Todd Merryfield, owner of The Learning Shop at 714 S. Gammon Road, said the store is collecting the bears for officers who use them to help comfort children with whom police come in contact.

    "This is a great way to support what (police) do," Merryfield said. "Those are the kids that need something like this to reassure them, calm them down, and let them know that things are all right."

    Nearly 500 plush animals were donated Tuesday, a Learning Shop spokeswoman said. The Madison store's effort is part of a larger initiative through the Bears for Humanity organization. 

    Photos by Doug Wahl

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