After recent robberies, police remind students of campus safety services

Suzi Starheim

KSU police increased patrols on campus between Hilltop and Terrace drives

University police have increased security on campus in response to the three recent robberies.

John Peach, director of public safety and university chief of police, said the department is focusing on the area of campus where at least three suspects committed robberies Aug. 30 and Aug. 31.

“We are going to have increased security between Hilltop and Terrace when we can because that is certainly an area people feel nervous and concerned about,” Peach said. “We really don’t believe that is anymore dangerous or risk than it was before the armed robberies, but because people are more concerned, we’re going to have higher visibility, especially in the front part of campus.”

Crime prevention specialist Alice Ickes said staying safe on campus is easier than most students realize.

“Students need to be aware of their surroundings and not have both ears plugged with ear buds,” Ickes said. “There is safety in numbers. The escort service is available, but also if you are leaving an evening class and you have friends or other students with you, strike up a conversation and walk together instead of individually.”

Ickes said students overlook two safety services the university provides. These are the campus escort system and the emergency phones. Campus escorts

The escort system is composed of students working for residence services. Each carries a two-way radio, which is in direct contact with university police. Each escort also receives 40 hours of training prior to escorting. They learn CPR, first aid, fire prevention and emergency procedures.

“If you are about to leave an evening class or are walking on campus and feel concerned, you can dial for an escort to meet you,”

Ickes said. “We want people who are new to our community to know how easy it is to contact the police in case of emergency.”

Peach said the escort system is very underutilized by students.

“When in doubt, and you are by yourself, call them,” he said. “You may have to wait a few minutes because they are busy elsewhere on campus, but it gives you a lot of peace of mind.”

Escorts are trained to call the police via the radios if there is ever a problem but are told not to engage in anything that may be a risk to themselves, Peach said. Glowing blue phones

Peach said the emergency phone system started on campus more than 20 years ago, and, as of last year, there were about 32 emergency phones on campus.

“These phones were around before cell phones were normally possessed by campus members,” Peach said.

While these phones are meant especially for emergency situations, Ickes said they can also be used to dial any campus phone number.

“You can push the red 911 button and it goes to the campus police as an emergency call, but you can also dial any five-digit campus number from those phones,” she said.

Peach said he also wants students to realize these phones are not just for crimes that have already occurred.

“It doesn’t mean it has to be a crime in progress; it could be the fact that you are reporting suspicious circumstances that bothers you and so forth; those calls are permissible,” Peach said. “It isn’t for any other purpose than for one’s safety.”

And when in doubt, Peach said, report it.

“Report any suspicious circumstances,” Peach said. “A lot of people feel a little embarrassed to have to report things, but we would rather have them report it so we can check it out.”

Ickes said while it’s always good to be cautious, there is no real reason to be terrified while walking on campus.

“We don’t mean to be paranoid because these incidences like a robbery are very rare,” Ickes said. “We have a few bad people among thousands.”

Contact safety reporter Suzi Starheim at [email protected].



The first incident occurred at 2:40 a.m. on Aug. 30. Three suspects robbed two victims on the University Esplanade near the Kent Hall annex. No injuries were reported.


The second incident occurred at 4:23 a.m. on Aug. 30. Three suspects robbed one victim off campus at the Eagle’s Landing apartments. No injuries were reported. Peach said the investigation of this robbery is now in the hands of the city police department.


The third incident was reported at 11:59 p.m. on Aug. 31. The victim reported being approached by two subjects: a white male, 5′ 9″, wearing all dark clothing and a black male, 6′ 2″, wearing dark pants and a dark colored hat.

The victim said the subjects assaulted and robbed him near Kent Hall. Peach said the victim suffered minor injuries. He was taken to Robinson Memorial Hospital, treated and released.

Peach said the only weapons displayed in the robberies were in the first, and possibly the third, incidences – a pocketknife and brass knuckles in each.

Police cannot yet release victims’ names or what was taken in each robbery. And they’re still investigating a possible connection between the three, Peach said.


Police arrested 23-year-old Benjamin J. Clevidence of Loudonville on charges of robbery and complicity to aggravated robbery on Sept. 3.

Police released the photo, which was taken by a convenience store surveillance camera, to ask for the community’s help in identifying the suspects. Peach said this directly led to the first arrest.

“We received a number of contacts, both e-mail and telephone, and particularly we started receiving information on the ThreatLine,” Peach said. “This was very helpful, and that led us to the first person which has allowed us to pursue the investigation more deeply into the others.”

The ThreatLine is the university’s phone system that allows community members to report information to police anonymously.

While the surveillance photo was a crucial part of the investigation, Peach said it was a hard decision whether or not to release it.

“Obviously if you have committed a crime, and you know people are looking for you, you can either get rid of evidence or hide,” Peach said. “We weighed the risk to the community, and not having (the suspects) identified was a greater risk. So we put the photo out there to have people tell us, even though it may impair an investigation and collecting evidence.”

Peach is considering a scenario in which Clevidence took part in all three robberies, and he believes the other two men in the photo took part in the robberies, too.

University and Kent city police are still asking for assistance in identifying the other two subjects in the photo.