Campus and city police consider a combined building

Kelly Byer

The Kent State and Kent city police departments, Portage County Sheriff’s Department and Clerk of Courts might move to a new shared facility.

John Peach, director of public safety and Kent State police chief, said the departments are still trying to determine how plausible it would be.

“We are still at the beginning of a very long process of determining whether or not it makes sense,” John Peach said, adding that the departments are conducting a feasibility study.

“There has been no certainty in terms of location,” John Peach said. “There’s several proposed sites in the city of Kent.”

John Peach said the university is only considering participating, if the location is near campus in the general area south of Haymaker Parkway and north of Summit Street.

“We don’t want to get too far removed from where we are now,” Peach said. “It only makes sense because the university eyes itself as growing into the area where that facility will be.”

The departments do not have cost estimates for the possible new building. Public Safety Director Bill Lillich said that comes after building plans are created.

“We haven’t really defined who’s going to be in the building and what the building’s going to include,” Lillich said.

Kent Police Chief James Peach said each department’s financial responsibility would be based on its use of the building.

Lillich said the Kent city police department has been considering a combined facility with Portage County courts for about two years and discussed the joint facility with Kent State in the past year. Since then, the Sheriff’s Department has also considered participating.

James Peach said the Kent city police building was built in 1923, and is no longer adequate.

“It’s really out used its efficiency,” he said. “It’s very high-maintenance, and a more streamline approach is needed to meet the needs of not only today but in the near future.”

John Peach said the combined facility could benefit the university financially, in addition to improving relations with the city police.

“It’s to be a good citizen, good partner, to the city of Kent,” John Peach said. “Economic development in Kent means economic growth for the university.

“It will be something that will make Kent State much more attractive for enrollment, for recruiting faculty, for recruiting employees.”

Because of the growth of Portage County, John Peach said the Sheriff’s Department is looking to extend availability with the proposed building.

While the departments would be combined in the building, John Peach said the agencies themselves will not be combined.

“This is a distinct building that houses these separate entities,” John Peach said. “We serve

separate communities.”

Both the city and campus police chief said they don’t expect response time to be a big concern because officers are usually on patrol and are not greatly affected by building location.

John Peach said he hopes the departments can decide if a combined facility is possible within a month or two, but he said if it doesn’t work, he won’t regret the attempt.

“If nothing else, it shows that there’s a strong willingness to work together for the benefit of both communities for the future,” John Peach said. “It will have been worth the effort.”

Contact safety reporter Kelly Byer at [email protected].