Madison Mayor Paul Soglin upped the ante for good behavior at this weekend’s Mifflin Street Block Party, announcing in a meeting with city officials any unused funds from the police budget for the event would go to funding summer youth programs.
Soglin said the 2012 Mifflin event cost $190,000 for the Madison Police Department and the budget will remain the same this year. He urged students to act responsibly on Saturday and said any unused portion of the $190,000 budgeted to police for the event will be allocated for youth programming.
Soglin emphasized the meeting was called for more than just going through the projected budget of the block party. He said it is important the people responsible for the block party know about the consequences the event has for the individuals that attend it and for the city as a whole.
MPD Chief Noble Wray said the students who attend and host at the block party are not held responsible for the police fees the party incurs. He said when other neighborhoods in the city host block parties, they are required to pay for a police presence, which is unfair to the city.
Wray said policing the Mifflin Street Block Party has cost the city a total of $500,000 since 2009.
Soglin said he hopes this year’s block party is tame enough to allow for half of the $190,000 allocated for policing to go to summer youth programs. Additionally, he said he hopes next year’s Mifflin will require a low enough police presence to allow 90 percent of the $190,000 budget to go to summer youth programs.
“It’s about making wise decisions and reasonable choices in regards to festivities in the community and our efforts to create a safe and healthy place where we can take on the challenges of poverty,” Soglin said.
Soglin said everyone needs to make important choices and if the wrong set of changes are made, it will cost the larger community.
He said “wrong choices” will cost individuals in terms of their drinking, dangers to their health and citations. He said people will also have to pay the cost of hospital bills, detox fees and the consequences of sexual assaults and violent assaults.
“All of that comes with a price,” Soglin said. “I don’t think that’s part of the tradition-that it’s very important of a college experience. I think everyone involved would just as soon not participate.”
Wray said MPD made more than 500 arrests at the 2012 Mifflin event. He said last year’s block party was more controlled than the 2011 event, but MPD felt it was losing control at each of the parties.
MPD will not be policing Mifflin differently than it policed the 2012 event, he added, saying MPD wants to change the event to get it under control. He acknowledged this process happens over a series of years and changing Mifflin will be similar to changes that took place at Freakfest in order to get that event under control.
He said last year MPD made changes by choosing to keep the street open, whereas in previous years Mifflin Street had been blocked off, and the party extended to the street. He also said this year MPD wants to see improved behavior and conduct.
“We expect voluntary compliance from the students and people attending the event,” Wray said. “We will hold people accountable for their actions and behaviors.”