Madison is getting ready for an annual event that’s become increasingly unpopular with police and residents. The Mifflin Street block party is a venerable tradition dating back to protests against the Vietnam War in the late 1960s, but one that has become increasingly problematic over the past two decades.
Madison Chief of Police Mike Koval has made it very clear that he’s not a fan and would prefer that the event simply go away, due largely to the demands it places on staffing. Koval addressed that in a recent blog post.
“A five year comparison of various financial considerations is certainly trending in a “better” direction (from a taxpayer’s standpoint), but even a relatively “benign” episode of Mifflin (in 2015, no major incidents were reported and “only” about forty citations were issued) can amount to a fiscal hit of over $90,000.”
At a press conference this week, Koval said 95 percent of party goers just want to have a good time, but the other 5 percent are trouble. “In the midst of that kind of population of crowd density, that creates a ripple effect on innocent people who are otherwise minding their own business and having a fun time,” he said.
In 2011, there were sexual assaults, stabbings, injured police officers, and scores of arrests.
Nearly all of the problems associated with Mifflin stem from excessive drinking. “Obviously if you’ve been starting from dawn and you’re imbibing from past dusk, crazy things happen when you take on the demon rum,” Koval said.
It’s possible that the weather will dampen the turnout on Saturday, with a forecast which calls for daylong showers and a high in the mid-50s.