Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Citations fall at downtown bars

Students see it every weekend. A few Madison Police Department uniforms come into a bar, begin carding people, and write ticket after ticket after ticket.

But it appears that it’s happening less and less.

City cops are on track to hand out significantly fewer tickets to nine popular campus bars this academic year, a trend officials attribute to a change in priorities.


MPD issued 94 citations at Brothers, Chasers, Church Key, Johnny O’s, Logan’s, Madhatters, Monday’s, Wando’s and Whiskey River Saloon from September 2010 through February 2011, according to records obtained by the Herald. From September 2009 through May 2010, they issued 243 at the same watering holes.

Chaser’s, with 20 tickets issued, leads the above establishments so far this year. Whiskey River follows closely with 17. Over the course of the two years, the most common citations issued were for disorderly conduct (30), underage persons inside a licensed tavern (16) and possession of false identification (7).

Click here for the full table of citations.

MPD Lt. Dave McCaw said the reason for the decline is a shift in policy for the Community Policing Team, which traditionally conducts tavern inspections. McCaw attributed this to Capt. Carl Gloede, recently chosen to head MPD’s central district, who he said chose to diversify their role.

“They have been doing a lot of drug investigations, working with neighborhood groups, more traffic control … and preventing burglaries,” McCaw said.

McCaw said this kind of change is not unusual and happens as a new captain takes over the central district. He added when he was a member of CPT a few years ago, the team spent most of their time controlling underage drinking parties on campus.

Sgt. Tony Fiore, the CPT supervisor, said the department’s work to improve security and safety at bars has allowed CPT to move into other areas.

“We have never had a better working relationship with the taverns and bars as we do now,” Fiore said. “We don’t expect them to do all those goals without us, and we cannot get it down by ourselves.”

Jay Wanserski, the owner of Wando’s on University Avenue, said he has definitely noticed a drop in the number of tavern inspections. This year’s data indicates 15 citations have been issued at Wando’s, one higher than last year’s total.

“They know we are pretty responsible and taking care of problems in the bar and if there are any problems we don’t hesitate to call the cops,” he said.

Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4, said he has also noted a distinct drop in the number of tavern inspections this year.

Verveer, a member of the city’s alcohol licensing committee, said while he supports the police and fire departments inspecting bars to ensure they are in compliance with city ordinances, he does not agree with using police resources to check for underage drinkers.

“I’ve never been a fan in the past of overzealous use of scarce police resources to enforce the drinking age,” Verveer said. “It’s the reality that my constituency … would rather have scarce police resources devoted to more pressing public safety issues.”

Verveer added dangerous crimes that happen downtown generally do not occur in licensed establishments, but rather the residential and community areas in surrounding neighborhoods.

However, Fiore said the perception of what officers are doing during tavern inspections might be misguided, as the most visible part of their inspection is finding and citing underage individuals. Police also make sure the bar hasn’t exceeded capacity, there is adequate staffing to meet demand and fire exits are clear and staffed to make sure no one sneaks in, he added.

Fiore said CPT will continue to perform tavern inspections about two nights per week for two hours. But this makes up less than 10 percent of their working week.

The shift in resources comes as a city law limiting the number of bars in Downtown Madison is set to expire. This will allow for a debate over whether the law has been successful in reducing crime – but as Verveer states, it probably has a negligible affect on how many citations have been issued.

A city committee will review most liquor licenses later this spring. Verveer said he doesn’t think any bar is at risk of losing its license.

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