Turn out the lights, the party’s over. Willie Nelson’s lyrics should have been the slogan of the Madison Police Department’s (MPD) Party Patrol program, carried out on campus in the early ’90s. Also known as Operation Sting, this program directed undercover police officers to infiltrate house parties and gather evidence of illegal activity before calling in a larger squad to issue underage-drinking fines. The Party Patrol was an unpopular strategy, but these cops were party-poopers with a cause. Captain Jeffrey Frye, head of Operation Sting in 1992, defended the raids, explaining that underage drinking itself was not the issue. “We are looking at large, out-of-control parties that create disturbances, fights, sexual assaults, burglaries, thefts, and all kinds of things.” Former Madison mayor Paul Soglin ’66, JD’72 supported the Party Patrol and encouraged students to keep their parties chill. “When there are 33 noise complaints from surrounding buildings, 15 people hanging off of balconies, and people milling around with beer cups in their hands,” Soglin said, “it is not difficult to determine there’s a party going on.” When Sue Bauman ’65, MS’81, JD’81 ousted Soglin as mayor in 1997, she fired a “party’s over” back at the MPD and cut funding for Operation Sting.
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