City News

Madison police brace for Mifflin Street Block Party

Image By: Betsy Osterberger

For Madison Police Chief Mike Koval, this time of year means shifting his focus to a particular area of the city close to campus. 

The annual Mifflin Street Block Party serves as a celebration for UW-Madison students each year around spring finals season Centered in the 400 and 500 blocks of West Mifflin Street, thousands of partygoers indulge in loud music, binge drinking and mischief. 

While participants revel in the environment, the MPD will be hard at work to ensure their safety. 

“Mifflin is upon us and MPD, working collaboratively with many other city agencies, is bracing ourselves for yet another edition of this annual rite of passage,” Koval said in his daily blog

Koval’s post highlighted MPD’s plan to fulfill its number one goal on Saturday: public safety. This includes a large police contingency on-site and in surrounding neighborhoods, a ban on glass products and friendly reminders to obey the law. 

Koval preached personal accountability and adherence to the law were preached in his blog. According to MPD Public Information Officer Joel DeSpain, community outreach has been a useful tool to set expectations and teach safety to residents.

“Obviously we can’t meet with organizers because it’s an unorganized event,” DeSpain said. “We do our best to communicate with students who are housed there and what they can do to stay safe.”

MPD has spent an average of $102,654 each year over the past five years to cover safety expenses at the block party, Koval’s blog reported. 

A high number of police personnel, including the MPD Special Events Team and officers from the Dane County Sheriff’s Office will be on foot patrol to maintain order.

Underaged drinking will not be tolerated, according to MPD. Participants cannot have open alcohol containers on the street. Legal-aged drinkers must consume alcohol on private property if they are granted permission to be on the premises. 

MPD asks that music be kept at a reasonable level and for partygoers to properly dispose of trash. Lastly, a glass ban will be enacted from 6 a.m. Saturday until 6 a.m. Sunday, according to Koval’s blog. 

Any violation could result in a citation and potential detainment. 

More than 60 arrests occurred at last year’s party, according to a Wisconsin State Journal article. Common offenses included underaged drinking and public urination. 

DeSpain ultimately believes students should enjoy the block party. However, they should remain wary of suspicious activity. 

“Just don’t do those things to make yourself stand out so that you come to the attention of a police officer,” DeSpain said. “I think students need to know, it’s not just students who go to Mifflin. We have all sorts of people who show up from around the community and some of them are up to no good.” 

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