Archived News: This news release is more than one year old and may include outdated information.

MPD Leads Charge To Cut Costs

The cost for policing Madison's annual Halloween party - Freakfest - has been reduced by more than 50% in the past four years thanks to strategies developed by the Madison Police Department that have led to a significant reduction in staffing levels.

In 2006, the police cost for the party was $376,900. The figure came in at $307,350 in 2007; $255,150 in 2008; $213,560 in 2009, and this year police costs were slashed to $155,595.

Since 2006, some of the successful strategies pushed for by the MPD include:

• The Madison Police Department defined a number of problems which were directly related to damage to property and unruly behavior by patrons of the Halloween event in and around the State Street area, (i.e excessive intoxicants, historical spontaneity of the event, and a lack of responsible sponsors taking ownership of proposed activities).

• MPD Emphasized and maintained that past occurrences were not just a police issue and insisted that other stakeholders (i.e.Streets Department, City Engineering Department, Madison Fire Department, local students & businesses, community groups, Mayor's Office, etc.) take on responsibility to help manage this event. MPD led the way in bringing these stakeholders to the table, leading meetings, and determining appropriate responsibilities.

• The Madison Police Department led the way in making the annual party a "Formal Event" by changing the expectations by all involved parties; re-branding Halloween by implementing initiatives such as gating, entertainment, food, private security, messaging, and UW guest policy which dramatically reduced overall costs. Coupling MPD's tactical response in dealing with significant crowd size and associated unruly behaviors with implementing a crowd control philosophy of positive engagement with the patrons of the event, resulted in resounding and measurable changes.

• MPD utilized data to look at historical trends, and this allowed the department to allocate resources based on equipment needs and expenditures. Adjusting equipment needs resulted in improvements made throughout the event (i.e. elimination of lighting, amplification, changes in arrest equipment, facility expenses, etc.)

The Madison Police Department has continually strived to seek out cost effective strategies to reduce the scope of expenditures relating to overtime, associated supplies, and equipment usage. A collaboration of many different entities assisted MPD in the overall approach of significantly reducing costs for four consecutive years; balancing required safety measures of MPD staff and participating patrons of The Halloween event. In 2008, The Madison Police Department was nationally recognized by the Center For Problem-Oriented Policing, and was a finalist for the Herman Goldstein Award For Excellence in Problem-Oriented Policing. MPD is proud of this recognition, and will continue to evaluate past practices which have proven to be effective, and seek to develop new and innovative ideas in the future.


  • Howard Payne, 608 266 4897