A Madison Police Department officer addressed possible police strategies for both the planned alternative spring event and the Mifflin Street Block Party in a neighborhood meeting Monday.
MPD Lt. Kelly Donahue said the University of Wisconsin has plans to have a spring party on university property the same day the Mifflin Street Block Party is held. She said the party will be a festival to encourage school spirit and play live music and added MPD is waiting to receive final plans to make further decisions.
“We’ll wait to see how things shake out for [the alternative] party, and then we will make plans for how we will police that area,” she said.
Donahue said MPD will continue to staff downtown during the block party event, but policing will look different than it has in the past. She said officers will be more mobile.
At last year’s event, it was noticeable that Langdon Street and some other neighborhoods required more staffing than in past years. She said most parties at the Mifflin Street Block Party take place during the day but many parties continue into the night, which will lengthen the work day.
Donahue said the cost to police the 2012 Mifflin event doubled from previous years. She said this was in response to the difficulties MPD had the previous year.
She said the 2011 Mifflin was a “violent” party. Stabbings, sexual assaults and other behavior MPD had not seen in previous years occurred at the 2011 event and caused MPD to increase the police presence in 2012, Donahue said.
Donahue said the alternative event has been a grassroots planning effort from a group of students and is being based on the spring parties held at other universities.
“It really has come from the students,” she said. “Hopefully, we can encourage that and make it a positive event.”
Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4, said Donahue’s talk was part of a larger dialogue about planning for the May 4 event.
He said a coalition of student organizations led by the Associated Students of Madison and the Wisconsin UnionDirectorate are planning an event tentatively to be held at Union South and Engineering Mall. He said the event may also shut down traffic on Randall Avenue and use the street for the event.
“The current situation is the city is waiting to see how the student-organized event for the west campus area develops,” Verveer said.
Verveer said MPD has not released the official police report from the 2012 Mifflin. He said the report is complete and received approval from MPD Chief Noble Wray months ago.
In an effort to make campus safer for students, Donahue said she will be supervising a community policing team made up of five police officers and one sergeant. She said they will be on patrol Wednesdays through Saturdays and will work 10-hour shifts.
Donahue said the team is a result of MPD needing more help downtown. The team will be the only department in the police force working on a 10-hour shift, she said.
According to Donahue, there had also been a bump in burglaries over the holidays. She said this is not uncommon since burglaries happen when students go home for break and their mail accumulates at their residence.
Now that Madison has welcomed the students back, Donahue said she hopes burglaries will go down.
MPD will address more updates about university plans for the Mifflin Street Block Party at a meeting on Feb. 14.