Submitted by Captain Jason Freedman and State St NPO Jessica Sosoka
Over the course of the year, our crime analysts keep track of various calls for service throughout the City of Madison. At the end of this summer, I received a document which captured the data related to crime and incidents in the State Street area. As many people are aware, State Street has various challenges which vary throughout the neighborhood. The data provided breaks the street into different "Focus Areas": which the 100 and 200 blocks of State Street ('Focus Area 1'); Peace Park (Focus Area 2'); the 600 block of State Street ('Focus Area 3'); and the 600 block of University Avenue ('Focus Area 4'). Each focus area has its own unique challenges and needs, and generate different types--and volume--of calls for service. Please see the map at the end of this blog for reference.
The region denoted as Focus Area 1 includes the area known as the "Top of State Street". The Madison Police Department has been providing extra patrol and dedicating additional resources to this area due to a high number of calls for service in this region in years past. Based on the data provided by our crime analyst, calls for service have been lower than in 2015 and 2016. While we recognize that work remains (for example this area does have the highest number of disturbances than any other part of State Street) we are pleased to see that our efforts and collaborative work with various partners have yielded improvements in the quality and safety of life in that area. I've included a 3 year graphic representing data between 2015-2017 of this area at the end of the report.
Focus Area 2 includes Peace Park in the 400 block of State Street. This region has the lowest call volume in relation to the other focus areas, and has the most calls for service during business hours. This could be attributed to the fact that the Visitor's Center monitors the area closely, and utilizes police services to maintain order in the area. There are mainly municipal violations for possession of open intoxicants and other liquor law violations. The number of calls has remained roughly constant from 2015 to 2017.
The area described as Focus Area 3 includes the 600 block of State Street, which sees the majority of its calls for police services between 11:00 PM and 2:00 AM. The number of incidents remains constant from 2015 through 2017. The types of calls usually involve disturbances, retail thefts and stolen bicycles. Walgreens and 7-Eleven have been suffering from a higher number of retail thefts than any other business in that region.
Finally, Focus Area 4 includes the 600 block of University Avenue and the 400 block of North Frances Street. The majority of the issues are generated between 11:30 PM and 3:00 AM, which coincides with the bar-time dynamics that dominate the area. From 2015 to 2017, calls for service have increased by over 11%. This area has been staffed for years with extra officers (the D.S.I./ Downtown Safety Initiative) during the late night/early morning hours in an attempt to keep the area safe and orderly. However, the addition of 10-15 officers on a regular basis does not represent a solution to the issues. Those bar-time issues are being approached through various means and strategies in order to mitigate the consistent and troubling safety issues that arise.
As always, the Madison Police Department continues to approach the myriad issues on and around State Street with creativity, diligence, and a goal of striving for continuous improvement. This includes collaboration with service providers, the Business Improvement District, and business owners, to name a few. These partnerships create more effective and creative ways to address police calls for service.