Efforts to decrease costs at Mifflin Block Party deemed success

Scaled down Spring Student Party in 2014 costs city half of 2012 event
Efforts to decrease costs at Mifflin Block Party deemed success

The Madison Police Department said efforts to decrease incidents and costs associated with past Mifflin Street Block Parties have been successful.

The Spring Student Party, formally known as the Mifflin Street Block Party, has traditionally been held on the first Saturday in May, according to a release. The party started in the 1960s as a protest against the Vietnam War, but it eventually evolved to an annual student party.

As the party became more popular, city resources were required to police the event, officials said. Since the 1990s, the number of people in attendance grew into the tens of thousands and the Dane County Sheriff’s Office and the University of Wisconsin Police Department had to supplement MPD crews.

In 2011, the city issued a street-use permit and the party was sponsored by a local business, according to the release. The crowd was significantly bigger and the number of people who were either intoxicated or incapacitated was far greater than previous years.

Police said alcohol-fueled decisions led to dangerous situations, including stabbings and other violent incidents. Officers were also injured in attempting to control disturbances.

Several hundred arrests were made during the 2011 and 2012 events, according to the release. After the 2012 event, city officials started looking into the cost of the party, including financially and to the extent that the party was enabling crime and affecting the neighborhood.

In 2013, city officials decided there would not be a sanctioned party, and the party was scaled down, officials said.

City costs incurred at the 2013 event were significantly less, arrests from the incident dropped dramatically and joint cooperation and dialogue between residents and officers was improved, according to the release. The cooperative effort continued in 2014, and the city was able to decrease staffing and costs for the event even more.

At the height of the issues associated with the Mifflin Street Block Party in 2012, the city incurred just under $200,000 in costs, according to the release. The costs for policing the unsanctioned event during the traditional Mifflin Street Block Party weekend in 2014 were reported just under $95,000.