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Downtown Madison brawl puts strain on officers

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MADISON (WKOW) — Early Saturday morning, as some on State Street were trying to get a post-bar meal, Madison police say a group of people started arguing inside the Qdoba.

“Pretty soon there’s drinks being thrown and words are being exchanged and there are reports of some fights,” Joel DeSpain, with the Madison Police Department, said.

He said that’s when officers got involved.

Surveillance video from The Green Barn Door, a business next door, shows as one officer prepares their pepper spray before entering the restaurant.

That officer then tries to take someone into custody, when other people start to try to interfere with the arrest.

“By the time more officers arrive, it’s a pretty chaotic situation,” DeSpain said.

With the benefit of hindsight, Madison police say the fight here wasn’t as severe as originally reported. However, it still brought its fair share of concerns.

“We’re already thin out on the streets, especially at night,” DeSpain said. “When they say the Thin Blue Line, they do mean thin, and when you have a large disturbance on State Street, it really pulls resources from other districts.”

He says the impacts from something like this could be felt citywide.

“If we have to respond to another call like a burglary or a car crash, pretty soon we’re on priorities only and we can’t provide the level of service we’d like to,” he said.

As for the fight itself, he says it was typical of the types of call officers have to deal with on State Street during the weekend.

“There were no substantial batteries, no batteries. We did arrest a couple people for resisting and disorderly conduct,” DeSpain said.

Francisco Almenara

Reporter, WKOW

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