Staying safe in Kent: police tips and tricks

Meghan Caprez ranks Kent State University number six in Ohio for highest safety rating, but local officers say students still need to exercise caution both on and off campus.

“It’s easy to get the impression that your life is being taken care of,” Capt. Jayme Cole of the Kent Police Department said. “What I would encourage is that incoming students recognize that this might be Kent, but it’s the world.”

Crime prevention can start with individual habits, Cole said. The first thing he recommends to students is to keep both room and car doors locked and windows rolled up to prevent easy access to personal items.

Officer Michquel Penn of the Kent State Police Department said petty theft is the most common crime on campus both in the dorm rooms and in cars. Penn said students should avoid leaving backpacks and other materials unattended, especially in public places like the Student Center.

Emergency numbers:

  • Kent Police Dept. – (330) 673-7732
  • Kent State Police Dept. – (330) 672-3070
  • Kent State Anonymous ThreatLine – (330) 672-7233
  • Kent State Escort Service – (330) 672-7004
  • Parking Services Motorist Assistance – (30) 672-4444

Penn said students should try to be more aware of their surroundings both during the day and at night. This means students should avoid texting and walking and playing their iPods too loud while moving across campus.

Residence Services offers an escort service to students who feel uncomfortable walking across campus at night. A trained security aid will take a student from any location on campus to another, Penn said. The service runs from 8:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m. during the school year.

The Kent State Police Department offers a 90-minute workshop to train students how to deal with an armed shooter.

The course is called ALICE — Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuation — and it is offered throughout the year, Penn said. The Recreation and Wellness Center also offers a self-defense course, which Penn recommends to students.

If students are faced with an emergency, they can call 911 to reach local authorities. Also, if students are on campus, they can use the blue-light emergency telephones located along sidewalks and in parking lots. This will not only alert the authorities of an emergency, it will also give them the location of the caller, Penn said.

“Our officers respond to that area, regardless whether or not we hear someone on the other end saying, ‘We need help,’” Penn said. “We’re not just going to go to that phone, we’re going to check the surrounding area, too.”

Other safety resources on campus include FlashAlerts, a text messaging system that notifies students of any potential campus threats or emergencies.

Students can sign up for FlashAlerts through their FlashLine accounts. The campus also has a sexual assault response team and crisis intervention team.

Cole said if students follow three rules, they will minimize the need for police involvement as both a victim or perpetrator.

“Do the right thing. Tell the truth. Be respectful,” Cole said. “If you can manage to contain your life inside those three sentences, you should not have any problem getting into trouble in the city of Kent whether it’s becoming a victim of a crime or whether it’s getting in trouble with the police.”

Contact Meghan Caprez at [email protected].