Tricks, treats and SWAT: Kent police prepares for Halloween


The corner of Water Street and Main Street, littered with costumed partygoers during downtown Kent’s Halloween on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016.

Madison MacArthur

As Kent Halloween draws near, Kent City and University Police have made preparations for the holiday and the drunken hijinks that ensue.

Each year, the Saturday before Halloween is deemed the unofficial “Kent Halloween” for Kent State students are able to celebrate on a weekend.

“It’s the busiest day of the year for us by far,” said Mike Lewis, the administrative lieutenant for Kent City Police. “We don’t have the resources to deal with the — I’m told — 20,000 people that come to the city.”

To cater to the increased masses, additional police forces are brought in to help.

“We depend very heavily on outside agencies who give us a hand for that: University Police, Brimfield Police, Stow PD, Aurora PD,” Lewis said. “There’s a number of different departments and that includes Metro SWAT.”

The Metro SWAT team will be joined by other departments of similar size to create a regional team that can be deployed whenever needed.

“We have (Metro SWAT) on Halloween every single year just for the manpower aspect of it,” Lewis said.

While downtown fills with Kent State students and visitors, the police will be joining the crowds.

“We deploy a number of walking teams just to get out to prevent problems, to look for any violations, parties that are out of control or underage drinking violations,” Lewis said.

However, while they partake in the celebration, Kent State students are not always to blame for crimes.

“Parties that have gotten out of control are really our biggest problem,” Lewis said. “Our arrest statistics from year to year show that Kent State students are not necessarily what causes all of our arrests. A lot of it comes from people who come from outside the city of Kent. They come in car loads for those house parties.”

Lewis cautions students to be aware during the night to prevent possible problems.

“We’re also on the lookout for people who come here with bad intentions,” Lewis said. “That happens every year because there’s so many people here, and it’s a college town with college parties and students. They’re going in and looking to commit crimes of opportunity.”

The campus itself will have University Police patrolling it. Tricia Knoles, a resource officer within the department, said every working officer will be on duty Saturday.

“Typically, this is what we do every year,” Knoles said. “We bring in extra manpower just to provide extra services and extra patrols in the area and to assist anything that could be happening in our joint jurisdiction area.”

Kent State University Police Chief Dean Tondiglia has specific goals for the Halloween festivities.

“Our goal is to make sure that all of our students and community members have a safe, enjoyable Halloween night,” Tondiglia said. “It isn’t so much that we’re there to spoil the fun; we’re there to make sure that people are able to participate in Halloween safely and be assured that we’re there to try and maintain that safety.”

Madison MacArthur is the safety reporter. Contact her at [email protected].