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The independent news website of The Kent Stater & TV2


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Police urge safety for boozy Halloweekend

Even though downtown Kent hasn’t faced scary, big crowds during Halloween weekend in recent years, city and university police are still preparing for a tricky night. 

Tricia Knoles, a Kent State University police sergeant, said she expects fewer people in downtown Kent for Halloween compared to past years. Previously, crowds as big as 35,000 people have lined downtown and the Route 59 area. 

“We’ve been fortunate that [crowds] haven’t been as big as before, not as many out-of-town people, and that’s where the crowd will come from,” Knoles said. “People will come in from out of town typically in the late evening, early morning hours and cause issues.”  

Knoles said the department mainly receive alcohol-related calls, including issues with intoxicated people and people looking to assault or rob them. 

According to Michael Lewis, a Kent Police Department lieutenant, those under the age of 21 who are found in possession of an open container of alcohol on public property will be brought to the Kent Police Department and charged with a third-degree misdemeanor, along with a fine of around $750. They could also face mandatory community service, diversion programs and alcohol awareness classes. 

People who are under 21 years old cannot be in possession of alcohol. Particularly, no individual of any age should have an open container while on public property, including BORGs, which have increased in popularity across college campuses. Having an open container on public property is punishable by a $150 fine, but will include a physical arrest for prohibitions if the person is under 21. 

The Kent Police Department commonly sees violations of the Kent noise ordinance as well, which states no noise can go beyond a person’s property after 9 p.m. Those in charge of hosting a noisy crowd that violates the law face a $150 fine, and will face enhanced penalties when combined with additional offenses like underage drinking and parking violations. 

City and university police collectively arrested 18 people over the 2022 Halloween weekend, according to the Kent State Police Department. During the same time period in 2014, about 43 people were arrested.

“We no longer may need everybody to work because it’s just an unnecessary thing to do right now,” Knoles said. “The past few years we’ve been fortunate to not have as many people in from out of town. We haven’t had as many large, crazy, wild parties.” 

The department will be fully staffed, with their morning shift officers coming in early and afternoon shift officers staying late in order to have an overlap of officers on duty, as well as working closely and communicating with the Kent Police Department. 

While everyone in the department was once mandated to work the last Saturday in October, the number of large parties dwindled, and the correlated amount of calls they have received in recent years makes the mandate unnecessary. 

“A lot of the fraternities and sororities have been really good the past few years with gating off their front yard, having someone at the entrance to make sure they know who’s coming in and that they’re of age,” Knoles said. “They’ve been doing a really good job having security within their own parties, so we can encourage that part of it.”

Lewis said the two departments’ relationship is beneficial for ensuring the safety of both the university and the community.  

“We have a very good working relationship with the Kent State University Police,” Lewis said. “We operate on the same radio channel, so they know everything that we’re doing and we know everything that they’re doing. We have a mutual aid agreement, which means we both can legally go into each other’s jurisdiction and provide law enforcement services.” 

Knoles said the majority of the calls her department receives usually come in after 11 p.m., which is why she suggested students go out and have fun but leave earlier in the night. 

“I always encourage people, like freshmen who have never been to a Kent Halloween, to go downtown and have a good time,” Knoles said. “However, you want to leave by nine, no later than 10, because nothing good happens after 11.”     

Lewis said his department will often contact the university police if they receive a call that involves students from the university, so they can file a separate report for the incident and provide assistance.  

“What I tell students is just because something happens between you and the city of Kent police, doesn’t mean it’s going to stay between you and the city of Kent police,” Lewis said. “Yes, you’re going to face sanctions at the Kent Municipal Court, but you could also be sent to Student Conduct and you most likely will be.” 

Lewis and Knoles both said the safest way to celebrate Halloween would be to not drink excessively, be vigilant of your surroundings and stick with a group. Those looking to commit offenses will most often seek out impaired and distracted individuals. 

“One of the main words of advice that I can give to someone during Halloween is to be aware of your surroundings,” Knoles said. “If you’re walking back either from downtown or a party or just find yourself walking back at night, be in a group. I usually say two’s good, three’s better, you know, the more the merrier in a group.”

Kayla Gleason is a reporter. Contact her at [email protected].

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About the Contributors
Kayla Gleason, Reporter
Kayla is a sophomore journalism major. She enjoys writing about the current events happening around campus.
Contact her at [email protected]
Kennedy Gotham, TV2 News Director
Kennedy serves as the TV2 News Director. She is a senior journalism major with a minor in political science. Kennedy is passionate about covering stories where peoples voices who are not being heard and giving them an opportunity to share their experiences. Contact Kennedy at [email protected]

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