Police increase patrols in downtown Madison
Police hope strength in numbers deters problems
MADISON, Wis. — Police are increasing their patrols in downtown Madison after seeing the number of random acts of violence rise.
Not only are there more incidents occurring, but police say those situations are also getting more severe in nature.
With a spike in serious assaults downtown, Madison Police Lieutenant Timothy Peregoy is keeping a close eye on the bar crowds. He said seven additional officers were on Friday night, and sometimes there are even more.
“We find that high visibility sometimes will make people think a little before they react,” Peregoy said.
The force focuses on certain blocks of University Avenue as well as areas on State Street.
“Just looking for anybody who’s down here not really enjoying the nightlife that you can have downtown, but really looking for trouble,” Peregoy said about the nature of people they tend to have problems with.
The increased presence downtown started before University Of Wisconsin running back Montee Ball was attacked early Wednesday morning.
Investigators now say that incident was not a random act of violence. Police confirm that there was a fight involving other Badger football players the Friday before Ball was knocked unconscious on University Avenue.
Ball was believed to have been present at that altercation, but not involved in the fight.
Police say most incidents they are seeing during weekend bar hours downtown aren’t premeditated.
“It’s a totally innocent person who is just minding their own business, and then they get hit,” Peregoy said.
Peregoy also said the main target for their patrols is big groups of people. When fights start there, Peregoy says, they can be dangerous and tougher to break up.
“When you start getting a lot of people down there, and you’ve noticed that for quite a bit of time they haven’t moved, they’re really blocking the sidewalk, they’re obstructing the sidewalk, and then we’ll look at to see what they are doing when people walk by,” Peregoy explained. “Are they intimidating the people? Are they making the people walk around them? If they’re making them walk around them, are they putting them out in the traffic where it’s dangerous? Those are the type of things we’ll look for.”
Madelin Snedecker sees the violence and police reaction all firsthand. She often works the night shift at Erbert and Gerbert’s Sandwich Shop on University Avenue, and said she’s seen fights break out right outside of her workplace.
Snedecker mentioned the increased violence doesn’t put her at ease to walk home alone in the early morning hours.
“It just seems like there’s a lot more fights and violence going on, but I don’t know how they can combat that,” Snedecker said.
Peregoy hopes power in numbers is a good place to start for police.
“Although we’ve had a little increase in problems, it’s not as bad as what people say it is. It gets a little bit overblown. You can still have a very good time. It’s just you have to be careful about your surroundings, especially when it gets past bar time,” Peregoy said.