The Wisconsin State Journal recently published an article stating that in the last 10 months, Madison Police had 173 criminal cases occur on the 600 block of University Ave. This is a 65 percent jump from last year’s records. The 600 Block on University Avenue is home to some of Madison’s most popular bars including the Double UU, Churchkey, and Liquid. On the weekend, students of UW-Madison can be seen frequenting the area.
“Oh I definitely go to the 600 block for a night out. I get some margaritas, some mixed drinks. And I really think I would feel safe in that area even if there was less police monitoring,” Trina La Susa, a senior at UW-Madison, said.
“I have noticed an increase in police presence here and I don’t know why there is because there seems to be no problem here usually,” Mark Koehler, a junior at UW-Madison, said.
The Madison Police Department has increased its patrol in the area in response to a rise in criminal activity. Captain Jason Freedman of the MPD believes this activity is gang-related. While the Wisconsin State Journal stated “gangs now consider bar-focused 600 block of University Avenue part of their turf,” the Madison Police believe that statement goes too far.
“We don’t believe there is a gang war, but we are seeing that if I am a gang member from one part of town or from out of town… where am I going to go late on a Friday or Saturday night? There aren’t many places to go in Madison so I’m going downtown,” Captain Jason Freedman said.
With Madison residents continuing to frequent the area and the continued increase in criminal activity, city officials have joined forces with bar owners to combat this issue. Possible solutions include more lighting, improved private security, and the implementation of a universal ID scanner.
“My hope is that the strategies that we are all working on will collectively be so meaningful that we can’t have this culture change, where this is not an activity that goes on another 5, or 10 years, every weekend night,” Michael Verveer, District 4 Alder, said.
With colder weather approaching, city officials hope the criminal activity tapers off. Madison Police advise UW-Madison students to stay in groups when frequenting the bars on the 600 block of University Avenue and to leave before bar close.