City, university prep for Hallo-weekend

Kira Meixner

Police plan for worst but hope

If tradition continues, the streets of downtown Kent will be packed tomorrow night with funny, freaky and flirty costumes. It’s Halloween, and everyone’s ready for it.

Kent administrative officer Jayme Cole said the city’s police department is preparing for this weekend like they do every year. The biggest problem they face is drunkenness, he said.

“This time of year gives people an excuse to drink too much,” he said, “and problems can result from that.”

Cole said most of those problems — including fights, assaults, sexual assaults and disorderly conduct — occur after 10 p.m.

“That’s when things can get ugly if they do,” he said.

Prior to that, the Halloween festivities that take place mostly at the corner of South Water and West Main streets can be a family event, said Cole. Parents usually bring their children downtown to watch the different costumes pass by and some business owners also join in by inviting friends and family into their establishments for the evening.

Jenny Arthur, owner of The Works at 130 East Main St., said although she’s had people come to her store for Halloween night, she prefers to be involved in the festivities rather than sitting in her store.

“Years ago we’d have a party with friends,” she said, “but it’s almost more fun to be outside on Halloween.”

Arthur said she’s not worried about people vandalizing her store this weekend.

She added that clearing out the window displays and being inside the store seems to draw more attention from people walking down Main Street, not vandalism.

Aaron Shay, an employee at Woodsy’s Music at 135 South Water St., said the employees may decide to stay in the store this Saturday, but not because they’re concerned about vandalism.

“We might hang out just to watch, more for entertainment than to protect the place,” he said.

Although Arthur and Shay are not too worried about bad behavior, the entire Kent City Police Department, including Metro SWAT, will patrol downtown this Saturday, Cole said. That amounts to about 40 officers — plus 40 to 50 members of the SWAT team — compared to the seven to nine who work a regular weekend shift.

It will be an expensive night for the Kent Police Department considering they will pay overtime to all officers outside the regular shift workers.

If the Kent City Police are in need for some extra manpower, they could call on the Kent State Police Department thanks to a mutual aid contract, allowing each department to request officers from the other, said John Peach, Kent State Police Department chief and director of public safety. The terms of the contract state that officers who cross into the jurisdiction of the requesting department immediately hold the authority of that department. This contract is used to control the use of police resources, Peach said.

“The main Kent campus is where we’re most concerned,” he said, “primarily around front campus and particularly the residence halls.”

The number of people on campus during the Halloween celebration has increased in the past two years, Peach said. Many people still go downtown, but they return to campus for further festivities, mostly in the residence halls.

The number of people out that night depends greatly on the weather, Peach said, and the majority of Kent State’s 26 officers will patrol campus on Saturday night.

Peach said the officers will intervene if things get out of hand, but they want people to have a great night.

“Have fun, but do it safely,” Peach said, “and that means if you are of age to drink, be wise about it because we have so many examples of some terrible tragedies that have taken place in people’s lives because they drank too much.

“We all want — including the city of Kent — everyone to enjoy themselves. Just do it wisely and safely.”

Contact public affairs reporter Kira Meixner at [email protected].