Madison Officials: No More Mifflin Street Block Party

UPDATED: Posted Friday, April 12, 2013--- 6:11 p.m.

Every year about 10,000 people crowd Mifflin Street for what students call a tradition, but every year there are incidents and arrests. And police are now saying it's enough.

"It just gets out of hand and everyone has to seemingly pay for that," said Lt. Dave McCaw with the Madison Police Department.

The Mifflin Street block party that's gone on for decades is coming to an end.

The annual door to door visits from police beforehand outlining the laws went beyond warnings this year, including a letter stating that the end of the year celebration for students would no longer be permitted.

"Every plausible plan has been tried and failed so this year nobody is even trying," said McCaw.

It's the last straw for police with calls to violent crimes every year-- eight sexual assault reports one year, nine aggravated batteries another, and just two years ago there were two stabbings.

Last year there were 500 arrests. Police enforcement alone cost $200,000.,

Many students living there say police are blowing it out of proportion.

"Any time you have a large group of people things like that tend to happen," said Mifflin Street resident, Thomas Coolidge.

Some still plan to keep the party going for another year.

"We'll probably do the same old stuff just see what happens," said Weston Heupel who lives on Mifflin Street.

"Another year, another Mifflin."

The Mifflin Street block party would fall on May 4.

Police still expect there to be issues this year. They are operating under a no tolerance policy, and student violators will also be reported to the UW Dean of Students.


Posted Friday, April 12, 2013 --- 12:38 p.m.

This is a letter from Madison Police concerning the weekend of May 4th.

Spring 2013
Resident Information Letter

Due to the widespread public safety issues associated with past spring student parties, an annual student event that has traditionally occurred on the first Saturday in May, There will be no Mifflin Street Block Party on or around Saturday, May 4th in 2013.

The spring student party will no longer be a City permitted or sanctioned event. The City of Madison, UW Madison, area landlords and downtown residents, have all determined that the toll of the spring student party far outweighs any benefit to our community. The nuisance house parties on Mifflin Street, with the rampant over-consumption of alcohol and the attendant safety issues will no longer be tolerated by the City of Madison.

Highlights of the City of Madison plan to deal with May 4th, 2013:
-Revelry Music and Arts Festival at Union South is the only sanctioned event on 05/04/2013
-No street use permit: Mifflin Street will be open to normal traffic & parking
-A no tolerance policy will be enforced at illegal house parties throughout downtown
-If you choose to have an illegal house party; you will be cited for any and all law violations
-If you are arrested/cited you will face sanctions by the UW Dean of Students

If you are considering hosting a party in the downtown area on or about 05/04/2013, the City of Madison is strongly recommending that you reconsider. The Madison Police Department will be operating under a no tolerance policy in reference to enforcing house party violations on Mifflin Street and the entire downtown area.

Criminals use the conditions created by house parties to prey on the good nature of hosts. Some people will see your party as their best way to get cheap alcohol. Others see it as an opportunity to commit more serious crimes such as theft, burglary, robbery, battery and sexual assault. Protect yourself and your roommates from becoming victims. Protect others by not providing the alcohol that enables their victimization. The Madison Fire Department would also like to remind you that houses, porches and balconies shall not be overcrowded or overloaded. To maintain a safe environment, occupants must be able to move freely through the house. If police or fire department personnel observe dangerous overcrowding, the party will be dispersed and you will likely be subject to enforcement actions.

ALCOHOL: All City of Madison Ordinances are in effect and will be enforced. The Madison Police Department does not condone violations of alcohol ordinances, nor violent or disruptive behavior. Common violations include (but are not limited to):

-Nuisance Party: Any party deemed a nuisance due to alcohol consumption along with safety violations will be shut down and citations will be issued. (Hosts $500 forfeiture, Guests $300forfeiture)
-Underage drinking: If you look under 21 and have alcohol, you will be asked to provide proof of age. ($177 for First Offense)
-Drinking on Private Property: Only persons with express permission from the owner or tenants may drink alcohol on any private property in the City of Madison. ($303 forfeiture)
-Procuring Alcohol: If you provide alcohol to someone who is not yet 21, you will be cited. This includes the underage people who walk into your open home and help themselves to alcohol. You are responsible for controlling who comes into your home and any alcohol you have in your residence. ($366 forfeiture per violation per roommate)
-Dispensing Alcohol: You and your friends who are 21 or older can buy alcohol together and drink alcohol together, but you cannot resemble a bar. Any exchange of money for alcohol constitutes dispensing alcohol. ($681 forfeiture per roommate)
-Open Intoxicants on Public Street: The "Public Street" extends from the outside edge of the sidewalk, across the street to the far outside edge of the opposite sidewalk. No open alcohol is allowed in this area. Do not expect warnings even for perceived "minor" transgressions of this ordinance. ($303 forfeiture)
-Depositing Human Waste: Urinating outside will result in arrest. ($177 forfeiture)

LANDLORDS: The Madison Police Department works closely with downtown landlords, who are fed up with expensive damage costs associated with drunken conduct every May. Your lease likely contains language forbidding you from having large amounts of alcohol in your apartment. If you choose to have a house party and are cited by MPD you will likely be responsible for an additional fine from your landlord. You also open yourself and your roommates up to the possibility of eviction.

UW DEAN OF STUDENTS: The UW Madison Dean of Students office assists the City of Madison with holding students who commit illegal activities accountable for their actions. If you choose to have an illegal house party on or around 05/04/2013 and you are cited by the Madison Police Department, your information will be sent to the UW Madison Dean of Students office and you will face additional disciplinary action. Academic sanctions may include anything up to expulsion. Is your academic future worth the risk?

MUSIC: If you provide any amplified music without a permit that emanates beyond the boundaries of your property you will likely receive a noise citation. You are responsible for monitoring the noise level. Police will not be providing “sound checks” to determine if you are in compliance or not. You will likely receive a noise citation with no warning.

GLASS: The City of Madison has established a glass ban on Mifflin Street and surrounding areas from 05/03/2013 through 05/05/2013. This ban is meant to help keep residents, guests, visitors, police and fire personnel safe. ALL GLASS containers will be banned on public property, even if it is not alcohol. Please avoid any glass containers. If you have glass on the street, sidewalk, or terrace, you will be cited.

OTHER REMINDERS: The goal of this initiative is to provide residents of Mifflin Street and downtown Madison with the information needed to understand that there will be no tolerance of any residence hosting an illegal and/or unsafe house party on the first weekend of May 2013. The City of Madison has asked the Madison Police Department to put a stop to the multitude of safety issues associated with the spring student party. There will be NO Mifflin Street Block Party in 2013 or beyond. The safety issues associated with the spring student party are, historically, the result of over-consumption of alcohol. Illegal/nuisance house party enforcement is the most effective way to stop this over-consumption of alcohol.

The no tolerance stance of the Madison Police Department extends to the entire downtown area during the first weekend of May. So, if you‟re thinking you‟ll just have a friend in another part of downtown host an illegal/nuisance party; The Madison Police Department again encourages you to reconsider. We will be out in force downtown and most of the repercussions outlined in this letter will apply everywhere downtown.

If you have any questions or concerns contact the Madison Police Central Community Policing Team at 608.266.4248 or