UPDATED: Friday, November 1, 2013 --- 10:30 p.m.
Reporter: Phil Levin
A swell in violence and drug deals possibly caused by felons dropped in Madison without a place to stay is slowing, according to Madison Police.
In September, Madison Police Central District Captain Carl Gloede raised concern about crime in and around Philosopher's Park, an area with scattered cylindrical benches near the capitol off of State St. He said the department was called to the area more than 400 times in just nine months.
At the time, Mayor Paul Soglin was concerned that the crime was encouraged by some violent prisoners from other parts of the state being dropped in Madison without the resources to stay out of trouble.
"If we do find individuals who would like to be back in their hometown, who were driven here by that local police department, if they'd like a lift back we'll get them back there," said Soglin.
Soglin said so far he has not had any takers.
Meanwhile, Madison Police say crime at the park is slowing. Since September, the city has hosted coffee and lunch sessions in the park aimed to create a positive presence and change the image of the park.
"Peace Park then Cement Park then 100 Mifflin, wherever it bubbles up again we'll deal with it again," said Lt. Dave McCaw. "But during that displacement time we have a segment of peace and that's what we're after."
The Department of Corrections declined to comment specifically about the park as it relates to released prisoners. A spokesperson said prisoners work with parole agents on release plans.
POSTED Tuesday, September 3, 2012 --- 11:30 p.m.
Reporter: Phil Levin
A swell in violence and drug deals may be caused by felons dropped in Madison without a place to stay.
Madison Police Capt. Carl Gloede says a park near the intersection of State St. and W. Mifflin St. is becoming a favorite hangout for criminals around the clock. Since the start of the year he says incidents in the area, bordered by the reconstructed library to the south, caused 430 police calls resulting in 213 arrests.
"We've seen an increase of drug dealing in the area, and lately we've had some serious batteries and a stabbing all in that 100 block of W. Mifflin area," said Gloede.
Madison Mayor Paul Soglin attributes the crime surge partly to the state Department of Corrections dumping offenders released from prisons from around the state in Madison without a place to stay, stressing the shelter system.
"We plan to talk to some of the other municipalities that are using their staff, their vehicles and literally driving their residents to downtown Madison," he said. "I'll tell you right now we will drive them right back."
Some who frequent the area are echoing the call for action. Maria and Daniel Milsted have owned several apartment and commercial buildings on Mifflin St. for 28 years. They say not only is it harder to find tenants, but they fear for their own safety.
"I'm scared to death to go into my own office at 106 W. Mifflin" said Maria Milsted. "Capital Tap Haus on busy nights has a guard posted at the bathroom so that they don't go in and shoot up."
Daniel Milsted says he has seen potential renters turn away after encountering suspicious crowds of more than 40 people right outside their property.
Soglin hopes to meet with Madison Police Chief Noble Wray and the DOC to explore solutions. Some city staff and alders liken the area, sometimes called "Concrete Park," to Lisa Link Peace Park before it was redone with additional lighting, seating and a visitor center.