Additional officers and SUV make campus safer

Daniel Moore

The Kent State Police Department hired six new police officers and purchased a Ford Explorer SUV in an effort to increase campus safety.

Kent State Police Chief John Peach said he persuaded university president Lester Lefton to allocate $43,451 per officer, a total of $260,706 in university funds to provide the additional officers and $29,131 for the vehicle.

New Officers

“We’re very grateful for the decision,” Peach said, noting that a safe campus affects all aspects of the university. New officers will also be used to strengthen bike patrols and coordinate with residence hall staff.

While two of the new officers filled vacant positions, the department created four new positions in response to what Peach said was an “outcry from students, staff and parents.”

The ratio of police officers to every thousand students is key factor in overall safety, Peach said. Prior to the new hires, Kent State ranked in the bottom third of all university officer-to-student ratios, Peach said. At 28 officers, the ratio was 1.1 to 1; currently at 32, the ratio is 1.3 to 1. Peach said the current ratio puts Kent State in the middle third of the rankings.

“The serious occurrences, the armed robberies, the assaults that led to deaths off campus, it created such an outcry, and rightfully so, that there needed to be an addressing of the problem.”

Peach also cited the mental health issue as cause for concern. Arresting police officers are trained to treat suspects with mental health issues more delicately, Peach said. Consequently, more time and manpower are needed to do it right.

“We are having to spend much, much more time with mental health issues,” he said. “Higher education is getting inundated with these issues. It’s become a crisis.”


Accompanying the new officers is the SUV purchased over the summer.

“Not only is it larger, but it is a command vehicle with all of the supplies and equipment we need,” Peach said.

Sgt. Rick O’Neill makes sure the SUV goes out on every shift. The most important advantage, he says, is the space the vehicle provides.

“It’s a movable instant command post with more functional drivability for severe weather,” O’Neill said. “We can set up shop and operate effectively.”

While acknowledging the economic hardships of the university, Peach said the overall financial state of the department is efficient.

“We’re well-staffed and satisfied,” he said. “As long as we keep it at this level, the community will be well served.”

Contact Daniel Moore at [email protected].