Kent police prepare for Halloween crowd of 20,000

Costumed+partygoers+cross+traffic+in+downtown+Kent+on+their+way+to+the+Zephyr+Pub+for+the+Halloween+festivities+on+Oct.+31%2C+2015.

Costumed partygoers cross traffic in downtown Kent on their way to the Zephyr Pub for the Halloween festivities on Oct. 31, 2015.

Mitch Felan

As students make their Halloween costumes and purchase large amounts of alcohol for parties, the Kent City Police is preparing for what might be their biggest undertaking of the school year: Halloween.

According to the department, the event will bring nearly 20,000 people to the city this Saturday, many of who are not Kent State students.

In fact, Kent Police Lt. Michael Lewis said that he is less concerned about students causing crimes and more concerned about outsiders who are “looking for trouble.”

“Our message to the students has been to try not to be too attractive for these outsiders to come in,” Lewis said. “Be careful about having parties because we do have outsiders who come in.”

Lewis said students only account for a third of arrests on Halloween night.

However, Lewis is concerned for student safety this Saturday, which he said is threatened by an increased amount of visitors.

“It’s a very big concern of ours and because the city is so densely populated … you see carloads of people from outside who come here to commit crimes,” Lewis said. “They think they can do so with anonymity because the city is so busy that night.”

As Lewis is quick to point out, though, these problems often happen far away from the downtown area, rather than near campus.

“Downtown for the most part is relatively harmless. What we see down there are good-natured people coming down, looking at costumes, walking around downtown, and spending money at our downtown businesses. We appreciate that,” Lewis said. “It’s good for the city, and I’m sure the chamber of commerce appreciates it.”

He said areas like Lincoln Street, East Main Street and College Avenue are more likely to see those problems.

Among those problems are aggravated robberies, which have been called in two out of the past four Halloweens.

As for the Kent State campus, Tricia Knoles, a Kent State police officer, said that the main campus is a common target for burglaries on Halloween night.

She said she understands the possible dangers of visitors, and advised students that safety lies in numbers.

“I typically tell students that if they do choose to participate in the Halloween events, to make sure that they walk in large groups together (and) to make sure they’re not walking by themselves,” Knoles said.

She also recommends taking advantage of Kent State’s security aide program, which is offering students without a group an alternative.

“We have the security aides doing the escort service that evening. You can contact one of the student security aides to walk with you,” Knoles said. “You can use the escort service if you find themselves separated from your friends.”

Lewis agreed with Knoles. He said he recommends students use the “buddy system” to stay safe.

“I’ve spoke to a number of fraternities who said that they do not plan to have anything going on at their houses for that night,” Lewis said. “They said it’s just not worth some of the problems in the past and they don’t want to be a part of it.”

Above all, Lewis and Knoles said their departments are ready for this weekend, and hope that students and visitors will act responsibly and safely.

“We understand they want to party and have a good time,” Lewis said. “We just ask they do so responsibly and safely.”

Mitch Felan is the safety and transportation reporter, contact him at [email protected]