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DEREK MONGOMERY/Herald photo

The Madison Downtown Coordinating Committee heard the police department's plans for Halloween 2005 at a meeting Thursday.

Madison Police Dept. Central District Captain Mary Schauf presented changes in police tactics with regard to this year's celebration, highlighting the use of fencing, MPD house party teams and communication with out-of-state private bus companies.

Schauf said the high density of students and visitors on State Street has always been a contributing factor to problems during the celebration.

"With the fences, we will try to keep people from pooling in the Frances and State Street intersection," Schauf said. "The fences will also help us in our managed density plan, which is to reduce stagnation by partiers."

According to Schauf, permanent fencing will be used all night on Frances Street to prevent people from entering State Street from Frances. Officers will also be able to deploy temporary fencing at any point of the night across State Street where it intersects Frances Street, Broom and Gilman Streets and West Gorham Street, Schauf said.

"The temporary fencing will give us the ability to close off the 400 block, the 500 block and the 600 block if we have to," Schauf said. "If we see a potential crush situation [on] the street, we will uncoil the fencing and close the area."

The MPD will also try to crack down on house parties more this Halloween compared to last year. Schauf said in 2004, MPD designated one house party team consisting of one sergeant and five officers. This year, four house party teams will patrol the area surrounding State Street.

"What the teams do is find unruly and obnoxious house parties and shut them down," Schauf said. "They will begin early in the night to stop some of them before they get out of hand."

The police department has also been in contact with private bus companies from surrounding states who have trips scheduled for Halloween weekend, Schauf said.

"We usually see a massive amount of people riding in on buses from neighboring states," she said. "You can tell when they arrive because all the passengers get off the bus with their backpacks and a pillow beneath their arm."

Schauf said the MPD has taken a proactive approach to informing such out-of-state visitors.

"We have given these bus companies flyers with information to distribute to passengers about the rules for the celebration," Schauf said. "We were also going to greet the buses with a police welcome wagon, but I don't think we're at that point quite yet."

Committee member Michael Quigley noted that this year's preparations for Halloween seem much different than previous years.

"This year it seems like there is much more focus on being proactive with things like the house party team and safety lighting," Quigley said. "In years past, it always seemed like the police prepared to react to the party."

Other changes in tactics Schauf presented to the committee include lighting from 7 p.m. until the end of the event both Friday and Saturday, use of a state-of-the art sound system rented for $6,000 and increased signage at entrances to State Street.