Kent Police to add foot, bike patrols

Carrie Blazina

A grant given to the city of Kent will allow for more foot and bike patrols this spring and summer.

Kent Police Department announced Friday that it received a Justice Assistance Grant for $6,750. The grant will allow about 120 hours of extra patrols downtown, Lt. Jim Prusha said.

The Ohio Office of Criminal Justice Services awards the grant annually. This is Kent’s first time receiving it. Main Street Kent and the Kent Chamber of Commerce worked with the police department to secure the grant after the department applied.

Lori Wemhoff, Kent Chamber of Commerce executive director, wrote in a letter of support for the grant that the chamber is thrilled to have more people downtown but wants them to feel safe as well.

“Providing people with a safe environment while they are here is a goal that the KACC and KPD share, and we believe that additional foot and bike patrols visibly present in downtown Kent will illustrate our collective commitment,” Wemhoff wrote.

Prusha said the new foot and bike patrols are not in response to complaints from business owners or residents.

“I don’t think we’ve had a lot of reaching out from people downtown saying, ‘Oh, the crime’s horrible down here, come help,’” Prusha said. “I think it’s just a matter of we have this whole new nice stuff and we want to keep it nice.”

Police Chief Michelle Lee said in a press release that the patrols will allow officers to build relationships downtown with businesses and also cut down on crime.

“The officers will certainly enforce the law downtown, particularly in the evening hours, but the goal is to establish relationships with the business community that will help to reduce our calls there,” Lee said.

Prusha said there will be daytime and evening patrol shifts. Among the problems, he hopes the evening patrols will prevent fights, fake ID use and graffiti.

Prusha said Kent has 15 officers trained to patrol on bike and five bikes, which he hopes to see used more often. He said a typical shift has five officers working, which is not enough to patrol on bike.

“We only have enough officers to cover the city, and to put somebody on a bicycle if an emergency happens a couple of miles away from them, they’re going to be a while to get there,” Prusha said. “So we haven’t used [the bikes] as much as we’d like to.”

To combat that problem, the officers will work overtime for the patrols. Prusha said there is a sign up sheet that officers use to pick up extra shifts doing foot or bike patrols, and they are paid from the grant money.

Prusha said the patrols will start as soon as the weather cooperates and run through the end of August.

“It’s mainly just a way for all these new business owners to come in and for us to come in and introduce ourselves and say, ‘Let’s work together and let’s do what we can,’” Prusha said. “The whole idea of community policing is that the cops are not going to be as effective unless they have the support of the community they serve.”

Contact Carrie Blazina at [email protected].