Busts continue without KSUPD

Simon Husted

Campus police look to expand

The heroin drug bust on Feb. 19 outside the Student Recreation and Wellness Center is the most recent arrest made by the Portage County Drug Task Force on Kent State’s campus.

But the Kent State University Police were not actively involved in that arrest, which leads some to wonder why.

Safety Director John Peach said the Portage County Drug Task Force notified KSUPD about the drug bust prior to the incident but asked for no assistance.

Some students said the bust being performed by an outside agency exemplifies the perception that the KSUPD aren’t doing their jobs.

“It sends a message,” said Lauren Parker, junior English major. “No one takes the campus cops seriously, whether it’s their fault or not. And when anything big happens they’re going to be excluded. Simple as that. They’re not going to get the credit, even if they had a hand in it.”

The Drug Task Force, which is responsible for the four on-campus drug busts this school year, is made of officers from various police agencies, including the Portage County Sheriff’s Office, Portage County Prosecutor’s Office and the police departments of Kent, Aurora, Garrettsville and Streetsboro.

Up until five years ago, the KSUPD had one full-time detective working at the Drug Task Force’s headquarters in Rootstown, Peach said. However, a gradual budget cut from the Ohio government forced the department to leave the Drug Task Force.

“It became an issue of staffing for the department,” Peach said. “I had to determine whether to still commit a full-time officer to the drug task force or assign a person to here on campus where there’s a real need.”

At the time, he said there was more of a need for an officer on campus because student population was growing and alcohol problems were increasing.

Pat Burns, Drug Task Force commander, said the agency offers many benefits for any police department to join.

“You’re in the loop in all of the investigations,” Burns said.

A police department wishing to join the Drug Task Force commits one detective to work inside the agency. Not only does that detective act as an informational liaison between the Drug Task Force and the department, but he or she can also investigate drug offenses and suspected dealers as a plainclothes detective.

Unlike a typical uniformed officer, Burns said a detective at the Drug Task Force can blend with crowds and investigate suspects and drug activity.

“Just like this week, we can catch these people before they continue wreaking havoc on people’s lives,” Burns said

Burns added the detective also investigates cases outside his or her department’s jurisdiction.

Aside from paying for the salary of the detective, Burns said the police department is responsible for paying a $10,000 annual fee to the Drug Task Force. In return, the department receives some financial compensation when money is confiscated from a crime scene and is ordered by the court system to be dispersed throughout the departments that comprise the Drug Task Force.

“You don’t join this (the Drug Task Force) to earn a profit,” Burns said.

Peach said the department wishes to be a part of the Drug Task Force again, but the department first needs to regain a sufficiently sized staff.

This year, three new officers were hired earlier this semester and three more are budgeted to be hired sometime later in 2010. The new officers will bring the department’s workforce back to 31, the same it was five years ago, Peach said.

However, he added, training is needed for the new officers before the department recovers in


Even though the KSUPD and Drug Task Force have no formal connection, Peach said the two have a good cooperative relationship.

“When we get information about drugs we share it with them, whether it’s suspects, offenses or so forth,” Peach said.

Contact safety reporter Simon Husted at [email protected].