Madison Police Department Chief Mike Koval held a press conference Tuesday to discuss the upcoming Mifflin Street Block Party after his recent blog post condemned the event.
In preparation for Mifflin, MPD is currently working with landlords, property owners and student groups to inform them of ways they can contact police if crowds start to get out of control. He stressed the importance of the “three Es,” or engagement, education and enforcement and making sure students are aware of the general “do’s and don’ts” during the annual block party.
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“A lot of the folks [getting caught up with the police during Mifflin] are not our very own University of Wisconsin students,” Koval said. “It’s mostly interlopers who try to see how [UW students] ‘party hardy.'”
Since this year’s Revelry has been downsized, MPD spokesperson Joel DeSpain said there could be more students on Mifflin Street. Despite this, DeSpain said MPD still anticipates a similar level of attendance to last year.
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While Koval couldn’t reveal if there will be a higher police presence on Mifflin, he promised there will be “lots of selfies” with “better poses than students.”
“The spirit of camaraderie between police and students [at Mifflin] is something we hope to continue,” Koval said.
Koval and DeSpain also gave an update on the series of anti-Semitic graffiti throughout UW campus, noting that MPD is assisting UWPD in their investigation. Officers and detectives with training in hate crimes and bias incidents were sent to investigate, Koval said, and police presence on Langdon Street — where most of the graffiti was reported — has increased.
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Despite some developments, DeSpain said MPD does not want to publicize the matter and encourage a potential “copycat.”
Koval also provided an update on the recent shooting at O’Grady’s Irish Pub. While the suspect has yet to be apprehended, he said MPD is crafting an intelligence spreadsheet to see where suppression efforts are necessary in the investigation, and to prevent future gun violence as well.
In 2016, there were 28 separate incidents of shots fired, Koval said, with 16 or 17 in April alone. As shootings have increased in the past few months, he said the MPD Gang, Crime and Burglary unit are working together to craft an intelligence spreadsheet — a method employed last April when there were around 30 shootings in the month.
The spreadsheet method works by compiling crime details into a spreadsheet to locate problem areas within the city.
“Over policing has not been a marquee method of MPD,” Koval said. “We look at crime prevention first.”
Some of the recent shootings may be gang affiliated, and Koval said there is an issue of witnesses not stepping up during these investigations. With investigations often depending on “independent pieces coming together,” he urged community members to come forward if they have any information.
MPD also revealed a development in the investigation into the death of a two-year-old girl. According to the incident report, the girl was taken to the hospital after Madison Fire Department responded to a call at an apartment in the 1700 block of Onsgard Road. The live-in boyfriend of the girl’s mother, 25-year-old Joshua S. Gehde, was charged with first degree reckless homicide Thursday afternoon after the medical examiner performed the autopsy.
“There is that extra special, deep, dark place when you deal with the death of a child,” Koval said. “These homicides speak to a life of unfulfilled potential.”