Madison police are not taking “sole ownership” of this year’s downtown Halloween riot, according to Madison Police Department chief Richard Williams.
At a press conference Thursday, Williams said the department would work with UW officials, students and downtown business owners in the future to help prevent a repeat of this year’s mayhem.
Prior to the press conference, the police department released an “after-action report,” with details about the events of Nov. 2 and early morning of Nov. 3. The report notes that downtown Madison businesses were faced with more than $21,000 in damage resulting from vandalism and stolen property during the riot. It also states that 13 officers were injured as part of the melee.
“The post-Halloween event was huge and unmanageable,” Williams said. “This community really owes a debt to the men and women of the Madison Police Department for the actions they took Saturday night and Sunday morning.”
Police officials said alcohol was a major catalyst for the riot. Williams said he estimates 65,000 people were downtown celebrating Halloween and said things got out of control when partiers started throwing alcohol bottles on State Street.
The report includes a recommendation to reduce the level of intoxication of partygoers, something Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4, said will be difficult.
“Lowering the level of intoxication of partiers will be the toughest nut to crack, and I don’t know how to do that effectively,” Verveer said.
Verveer said he doesn’t think it is legal to force bars to stop serving alcohol and that he thinks many of the 65,000 who were downtown this Halloween drank at places other than bars.
The report also includes a recommendation to have more police on duty for Halloween next year, something Verveer said he agrees with.
“Having more police on duty is a no-brainer,” he said. “There needs to be adequate police staffing all weekend, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.”
Madison Police Department captain George Silverwood said the department will work with community members to prepare for next year’s Halloween.
Silverwood said student word of mouth is pinnacle in spreading the word of when Halloween will be celebrated and that the police need to be in the loop to plan accordingly.
He said although the community didn’t take responsibility for what happened during this year’s Halloween, they should be involved in preventing another disaster next year.
“We need to sit down with students, the UW and downtown business owners to figure out when Halloween will be celebrated so we can plan better next year,” Silverwood said.