Halloween weekend yields most city arrests in last three years


Area law enforcement officers patrol downtown Kent during Halloween on Saturday, Oct. 27, 2012. Photo by Jacob Byk.

Kent State may be one of the top 200 universities in the world for academics, but it also excels in arguably the most important collegiate pastime: celebrating Halloween. After all, it’s an excuse to dress up in a ridiculous costume and overindulge in alcohol. Much like its springtime equivalent Collegefest — with the open street fires and tear gas — Halloween is the highpoint of the semester for some, but also when people are most likely to step over the line.

Kent police made 64 arrests during Halloween weekend, the most in the last three years and nearly double last year’s total of 36.

Of this year’s arrests, 39 were for underage drinking. Proving the under-21 crowd refuses to go thirsty, potential $1,000 fines and 180-day jail stints await them.

“The majority of our arrests were for underage drinking, and that’s been pretty consistent over the years,” Lt. James Prusha said.

Police saw a decrease in disorderly conduct arrests — 16 in 2011 compared to six in 2012 — and no arrests for unlawful noise offenses, down from three in 2011. Yet calls made to the police requesting service barely deviated from the 111 mark from 2010-2012.

The Halloween festivities caused some property destruction as a garage fire in a vacant university owned structure near the Esplanade drew firefighters. Kent Fire Department Capt. John Tosko said two fire engines and a ladder truck arrived on scene around 2:14 a.m., but the blaze was hardly an inferno as firefighters cleared the area 45 minutes later.

Tosko said no one was injured, and the fire caused little damage considering the structure will likely be torn down as the area continues to undergo development. Still, he said they are looking into the fire’s origin.

“It’s being investigated, but somebody may have gone in and set it,” Tosko said. “We just don’t know yet.”

Beyond illustrating that imposing a legal drinking age does little to dissuade those determined to drink, and that Kent students/residents may have an unhealthy penchant for partying and setting things on fire, the stats prove one thing: Bad weather can’t stop a good time.

“I remember some years on Halloween when it’s been nastier than this past Saturday,” Prusha said. “ I’ve been out where it’s been pretty rainy and actually a little bit of snow mixed in but it seemed like there was the same number of people. There were bodies everywhere you looked. [The weather] really didn’t deter a lot of people from going out.”

Campus police arrests down from last year

Kent State police arrested 30 people on campus, a decrease from last year’s 37 arrests, according to Community Resource Officer Michquel Penn.

Penn said the department received 87 calls for service between Saturday night and Sunday morning at 5 a.m. Of the 87 calls, 30 were listed as either physical arrests or summons.

Last year during the same time frame, the department received 74 calls, of which 37 ended in arrests. She also compared these numbers to last Saturday when the department received only 27 calls for service.

Halloween is one of the department’s busiest nights, she said, along with the end of the school celebrations.

“Not only did we have officers dealing with various calls here on campus, but we had officers who were assigned to work on mutual aid with the city,” she said.

Kent State police prepared for the busy night by overlapping the police officers’ shifts.

“Afternoon officers stayed later than they normally would, and midnight shift officers came in early,” she said. “So during some point of the night, two shifts were working.”

Although Penn said underage drinking and disorderly conduct were at the top of the list of charges, a man walking near Hilltop Drive and the Esplanade reported to police that he was punched in the face and robbed at 1:30 a.m. Sunday by four black males, who then fled the area heading east, according to a university press release.

Anyone with information regarding the assault and robbery is asked to contact the Kent State police immediately at 330-672-2212.

Contact John Milligan and Amanda Crumm at [email protected] and [email protected].