Bar owners lobby for more police action

Ryan Young

OU party may reduce crowd

Halloween has always been a night of drunken whimsy for some Kent State students, but it has also been a night to remember (or not remember) for another Ohio college: Ohio University.

This year, the two universities will hold their respective Halloween celebrations on the same night, which could detract attention from downtown if students travel to Athens instead of staying in Kent.

However, even with the number of projected attendees down, a few local bartenders are becoming increasingly frustrated by the lack of law enforcement during the annual celebration.

Brad Powell, owner of Professor’s Pub located on Main Street, said the evening has gotten to the point where police should intervene to prevent accidents.

“The police won’t sanction it as a holiday because they don’t want the responsibility that comes with it,” Powell said. “If they closed (Main Street), then things would look a whole lot better from a safety perspective.”

It is an opinion that is, to some extent, shared by Jim Tribuzzo, owner of the Brewhouse Pub, located on North Water Street. Tribuzzo said his bar is less prone to safety hazards because it is not located on a main road, but he is still open to the idea of increasing police intervention.

“I think (closing down Main Street) would be nice, and definitely safer for pedestrian traffic,” Tribuzzo said. “It’s usually a great night for a lot of people to have fun, but a lot of booze and a lot of people usually equals bad things.”

Even with the adjacent Ohio University celebration, Tribuzzo estimates around 15,000 to 20,000 people will be celebrating at the local bars.

When asked why the Kent Police Department refused to shut down Main Street, Lt. James Cole replied, “Our responsibility is to protect the 28,000 people of Kent,”

While enforcing downtown is certainly a priority, Cole said the Police Department has maximized its resources for the night, making all 42 officers “protect and serve” all the citizens of Kent in some capacity.

Cole said on a typical Saturday night, the Police Department arrests an average of 10 to 15 people. Every Halloween night, however, he said they arrest 30 or more.

Cole, who has worked the Halloween night shift for 22 consecutive years, said the increase of arrests is because students get too comfortable with their surroundings and “fall into a false sense of security because of the crowd’s size.”

Cole said that anyone caught breaking the law will be arrested as they would be on any other night of the year.

“An open container on the public right of way (sidewalk and streets) will definitely get you a citation,” Cole said. The most popular arrests on Halloween night, he said, are underage drinking, home invasions, strong-arm robberies and sexual assault.

His advice to those attending the celebration is to have a plan and stick to it.

“Know where you’re going and who you’re going with,” he said. “Basically, have a buddy.”

Also, Cole warns about the limited visibility that costumes can cause, and advises that anyone who dresses up should consider visibility to be crucial in their costume selection.

Contact off-campus entertainment reporter Ryan Young at [email protected]