Reviewed Underage drinking citations low for bars in downtown Kent-McLean

Jackie McLean

It began as any other night at the Kent State Police Department. Two officers were on the night shift when they received a call about some criminal mischief in Tri-Towers. Nothing could prepare them for what they were about to find. As they walked down the hall, a trail of huge piles of poop led them to the men’s bathroom. With the perpetrator out of sight, the police officers left. A few hours later, they received another call from a KSU student whose roommate was unresponsive. Immediately, the police officers went back to Tri-Towers to check on the student. A strong odor was coming out of the room as they approached the student’s dorm. They had finally found the “Mad Pooper.”

“He had no idea that there was dried poop all over his shorts and legs,” Michquel Penn, the community resource officer, said. “That’s always the one incident that sticks out in mind because it was so gross.”

Penn cited the student for disorderly conduct.

“A lot of students don’t realize or think about the things that can happen to them after getting too intoxicated,” Penn said. “If you’re going to drink, don’t let someone get so drunk that they can’t care for themselves.”

According to Penn, underage drinking is a serious problem for the city because of the safety concerns that can arise from students’ lack of responsibility when they drink. A couple of years after she had started working for the Kent State Police Department in June 2006, there was an incident during Halloween in downtown Kent, where an intoxicated male had fallen into the street after a fight. She said he was run over by a flat-bed tow truck.

“By the grace of God, he actually did survive,” Penn said. “I do believe he’s a paraplegic now and his life has changed forever.”

As for underage drinking on the campus, Penn said there have been many alcohol violations, including 136 incidents involving alcohol and 244 arrests (with a majority of them receiving a Summons in Lieu of Arrest citations) in fall 2010. In January 2010, there were 15 incidents involving alcohol and 35 arrests, again with a majority of them receiving a Summons in Lieu of Arrest citations. Penn said a majority of underage drinking arrests are made at Main Street and Lincoln Street when the students are on their way back to the dorms.

Jayme Cole, the captain of the Kent Police Department, agrees with Penn. He said underage drinking is a problem when it becomes disruptive to the community or causes issues of public safety.

“Certainly a kid who is 19 or 20 sitting in his or her dorm room or rental house enjoying a beer while watching the game is not going to have any kind of a huge impact on the community,” Cole said. “Experience has shown us year after year, that the people who drink underage are the ones who tend to cause other problems either by just drawing attention to themselves because of their drinking, or by committing other crimes.”

Even though there are a lot of bars in downtown Kent, Cole said they don’t generally have a lot of underage enforcement there because many of the bar owners are only letting people 21 and over into the bars. He said this is an effort for the bar owners to protect their liquor license, which is their vehicle to do business.

“The bars tend to do a pretty good job of policing their patrons,” Cole said.

Usually, the Kent Police Department gets involved in enforcement at the bars if an underage person has slipped into the bar or if there is an underage person with fake identification at the door. Cole said they also deal with people that are furnishing alcohol to minors.

Julie Hinds, a public information officer for the Ohio Department of Public Safety, said the highest volume of underage drinking arrests is made during big events in a college-town atmosphere, including: Ohio State football games, Halloween parties in Athens and Kent and the Jamboree in the Hills summer festival in Belmont County. She said undercover agents from her department are often called to different locations to monitor underage drinking. The Ohio Department of Public Safety is one of three main agencies that regulate liquor in Ohio.

According to statistics from the Ohio Investigative Unit, there were 18 different underage alcohol-related offenses in Kent for 2009, including minors’ knowingly consuming and purchasing beer and other intoxicating liquor. In 2010, there were 16. Hinds said there have not been any license premises cited for sales of alcohol to minors by this particular department within the last two years.

For more information about drinking violations in any particular area, visit To report an underage drinking complaint or any other alcohol-related complaints against an establishment, call 1-877-4-MINORS.